Posts Tagged With: Lamentation

Top 10 Fantasy Books of 2010

Like I did last year, I’m going to recap the top 10 fantasy novels of 2010. Unlike last year, this time I’m splitting the difference. Five novels in the top 10 are the favorites I read over the past year, and the other five are novels that I haven’t read, but spent a good deal of time on the Amazon top 5 fantasy bestseller list. If you’re looking for a gift, its likely that any book from this list will delight the recipient.

This is the first in a series of Top 10 posts covering the fantasy industry. Next week, we cover the Top 10 Fantasy Book Trends of 2010.

Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Lamentation was one of my favorite fantasy reads of 2010. A vibrant new world, painted with colorful, unique characters, all wrapped into a story with heart, makes for a fantastic package. This first installment promises a quality series to come in The Psalms of Isaak. Check out my full review of Lamentation.

fantasy books Lamentation

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie was the best fantasy novel I read in 2010. Gritty, fast-paced, and filled with action, this first novel in a new epic fantasy series solidifies Abercrombie as one of the premier new authors in fantasy literature. The characterization isn’t just top-notch, the characters in The Blade Itself are unforgettable. Not only does Abercrombie deliver a quality novel, but there are moments of hilarity contained in these pages. Abercrombie is an honest, open-minded author, and these qualities shine in The Blade Itself. Check out my full review of The Blade Itself.

fantasy books

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Yet another fantastic first novel in a series discovered in 2010. Empire in Black and Gold kicks off at a frantic pace, in the middle of a battle, and doesn’t relent for the rest of the novel. Absolutely blistering pace is combined with a truly original idea for characterization: all the characters in this novel are some derivation of what Tchaikovsky describes as kinden, which are half-human and half fill-in-the-insect. This makes for some truly unique elements in fighting, and opens up the opportunity for all kinds of historical backgrounds among the different kinden in novels to come. As if to match the blistering pace of the novel itself, Pyr has been releasing the novels in The Shadows of the Apt series every three months or so since this novel’s original release date. Looks like I’ve got some catch up reading to do. Check out my full review of Empire in Black and Gold.

fantasy books

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Daemon was, hands down, the most addictive novel I’ve ever read. While blending elements of fantasy and sci-fi (something I normally don’t enjoy), this techno-thriller beats the pace of a Dan Brown novel into a quivering pulp and delivers a novel that you can’t help but devour in a week or so. The hook: a computer game design company founder writes a code that monitors news headlines online. When he dies, it triggers a series of events that attempt to takeover the economy and portions of the government. Oddly, the DDOS attacks on large corporate web sites recently in relation to the WikiLeaks site are eerily reminiscent of the themes discussed in this novel. Scary. Check out my full review of Daemon.

fantasy books

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve read a few Sanderson novels at this point, and Elantris is, if not tied for favorite with Mistborn, my favorite Sanderson novel. This novel contains similar themes as Mistborn, but was written prior, and I believe Sanderson had an insatiable appetite for writing fantastic fiction at the time. This is a beautiful story, self-contained in one volume, that is definitely worth going back and reading for any Sanderson fans who have tasted his more recent work. Check out my full review of Elantris.

fantasy books

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Fantasy Blogosphere: December 13, 2010

Reviews of a few novels this week, including one of my favorite reads this year, Lamentation by Ken Scholes. Interviews with Guy Gavriel Kay, Brent Weeks, and Scott Bakker. HBO released a 10-minute trailer for the Game of Thrones series this week, and Orbit Books offers a little elven holiday cheer.

Game of Thrones HBO Series 10-minute Trailer

Holiday Treat

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Fantasy Blogosphere: July 25, 2010

This week we’ve got a review of one of my favorite fantasy reads so far this year: Lamentation by Ken Scholes. Also check out the interview with Jim Butcher over at SciFiNow. A classic Frazetta sold for 1.5 million over the past week, and Tor made the cover art of Brandon Sanderson’s A Way of Kings available as desktop wallpapers, so grab ’em while they’re hot!

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Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010

In honor of book blogger appreciation week 2010, I’m submitting some of the best reviews from Fantasy Book News. Below is a sampling.

Best Literary Fiction Blog

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Review: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Book review of Ken Scholes’ Lamentation

LamentationKen Scholes debut novel is a delight, plain and simple. I approached Lamentation after hearing a lot of buzz online, a lot of it crossing here at Fantasy Book News in our weekly Fantasy Blogosphere posts. Scholes has been hailed as a brilliant new voice in the fantasy genre, leaning on his background which includes service in two branches in the military, a degree in history and a stint as a clergyman. I was delighted to find that Lamentation not only lives up to the hype, but completely exceeded my expectations.

Lamentation is the first in a five book series, collectively titled “The Psalms of Isaak”, although it is not clear after reading the first book whether the “Isaak” referred to is the dead twin of the lead character Rudolfo, or the mechanical man Rudolfo names after his deceased brother. Scholes has taken a unique twist on the fantasy genre with Lamentation. The setting is a post-apocalyptic world where the past had seen heights of technological innovation, but after reaching a certain plateau in technological progress, the technology lead to a disaster and subsequent technological regression, giving the novel a fine social commentary on the dangers of the technological advances in our own world. At the height of this pre-apocalyptic era there existed mechanical men, a pinnacle of the society’s technological achievement. In Lamentation, we see some of these mechanical men, who have been constructed using the knowledge of old, as well as a few other technological innovations that survived the devastation not typically seen in the fantasy genre.

Knowledge is a central theme to the novel. Like deleting a civilization’s existence in Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, one of the hubs of knowledge in Lamentation, a city named Windwir, is destroyed in the opening pages of Lamentation. The ensuing four hundred pages deal with how to save what little is left of the knowledge that was destroyed, and how to go about building a new center for that knowledge. Like any literary commentator, I thoroughly enjoyed this theme.

The characters that go about deciding how to manage this tragedy and attain retribution for the destruction of the death of thousands of people and knowledge are in a word, fantastic. Scholes immediately gives you something to care about in Lamentation, and then brilliantly brings in characters you can not only relate to, but genuinely get behind and root for. From the free-spirited gypsy king Rudolfo to the ex-Pope-in-hiding Petronus, to the father and daughter team of Vlad and Jin Li Tam, and a host of others, these are well fleshed out characters and they truly make Lamentation come to life.

Scholes has a familiar writing style, that is both comfortable and vibrant. He writes with a clarity and succinctness lacking in modern epic fantasy; there are no needless words in this novel. His ability to make an ordinary situation exciting is quickly apparent, as displayed in this example where he describes the look on a merchant’s face when Rudolfo offers the service of his squad of gypsy scouts free of charge:

He watched at least three emotions wash over the arch-scholar’s face. At first, surprise. Then anger. Then weariness. These are the only currencies our hearts can spend now, Rudolfo thought.

Lamentation is a novel that flies by, first because its just plain good. Second, because of the author’s ability to communicate an emotionally-charged story in a minimal amount of words, this paperback weights in at around 400 pages, with many other epic fantasy novels coming closer to the 700 page mark. The chapters are in smaller chunks, making it very easy to consume quickly; whether you can sit down and read five or six, or only have time for a quick one or two chapters. The viewpoints shift perspective per chapter, each being from the point of view of a different character. This is a style I enjoyed originally in George R.R. Martin’ s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and completely enjoyed visiting again in Lamentation.

Overall Lamentation is a fantastic debut in the fantasy genre for Ken Scholes, and I’m extremely excited for the second installment, Canticle. The first novel does a great job of building up to what you believe is going to be a complete resolution of the issues presented (which it does do to some degree), but does open the door to a whole set of new problems, on a much larger scale than you could have imagined having read the first novel. All I can say is bravo, Mr. Scholes, and keep up the good work.

You can purchase Lamentation over at

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 8 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

Categories: Ken Scholes, Reviews, The Psalms of Isaak | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Top 10 Fantasy Books for 2010

Here’s my list of the books I’m most excited to read in 2010. The first three are not released yet, and are possibly the most highly anticipated fantasy novels slated for (potential) release in 2010. Picks 4-6 are historical fiction, or some twist on the sub-genre. Books 7-9 are continuations, if not necessarily in the same series, of authors I’ve already read at least once. And my final pick is a classic thrown in for good measure.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

I know its been five years since A Feast for Crows. But Pat over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist has this book slated for release in 2010, and he knows George R.R. Martin personally. Coincidence? Hopefully, for legions of A Song of Ice and Fire Fans, its a bit more.

A Dance with Dragons

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The first two books in Scott Lynch’s fantasy debut series have redefined the meaning of action fantasy. Saying the third book in this seven book series is highly anticipated is like saying Tiger Woods made a boo-boo. In other words, its going to be huge.

The Republic of Thieves

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss delivered a home run with his first novel, The Name of the Wind, and rightfully earned himself a seat among the top dogs in the fantasy novel industry. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ll see this one drop in 2010.

The Wise Man's Fear

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

With a degree in anthropology, Steven Erikson’s ability with characterization should be fantastic. Gardens of the Moon is the first book in the ten book Malazan Book of the Fallen series. With historical fiction gaining traction in the industry and the popularity of the later novels in this series recently, I’m interested to get Erikson’s take on fantasy novels.

Gardens of the Moon

Acacia by David Anthony Durham

Durham has traveled the world, and lived in Scotland for a number of years, before landing in California as a Creative Writing professor at California State University. He’s made a name for himself writing novels involving The American Civil War, Carthage and the war with the Roman Republic. Acacia is his first attempt in the epic fantasy genre, and has made some noise in the industry.


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Fantasy Blogosphere: August 23, 2009

Admittedly, I skimped a bit on the reviews this week, as I’m just too excited about our “avatar-related” bonus videos.

SUPER BONUS! James Cameron’s (director of Terminator, Aliens, Rambo, The Abyss and Titanic, among others) Avatar trailer:

SUPER BONUS! Video by the cast of The Guild (3rd season starting this Tuesday):

Visit the Guild’s website.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: July 12, 2009

I first heard about Lamentation by Ken Scholes on the Dragon Page Cover to Cover podcast, where they hailed it as the most anticipated fantasy novel of 2009.  A hefty title to ignore indeed.  On my most recent trip to the States, I tried to locate the novel at a Barnes & Noble, a Borders, and finally at the Logan airport book store.  The clerk at the airport book store looked it up online, and told me the book was not to be released until September.

Lesson learned: don’t trust airport book store clerks who very obviously go to Amazon rather than their own database and find the release of the mass market paperback.  Here are some reviews:

Lamentation @ A Fantasy Reader
Lamentation @ Blood of the Muse
Lamentation @ Fantasy Book Reviewer

And as a bonus fantasy blogosphere feature for this week, we’ve got an interview with R.A. Salvatore:

Interview, Part 1

Interview, Part 2

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