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Canticle by Ken Scholes Jacob Send a noteboard - 21/10/2009 08:57:37 PM
Canticle (Book 2 of The Psalms of Isaak) by Ken Scholes

The second novel in the series The Psalms of Isaak, Canticle, opens several months after the events of the first book, Lamentation. The Andofrancine capital, Windiwir, has been destroyed, and the Order has been disbanded. An uncertain peace is in place as the nations of the Named Lands navigate the fallout of the loss of the power and influence of both the Order and the Li Tam family, money and political machinations both. There is hope, rebuilding work on a new library and the recovery of some of the knowledge and lore thought lost, the impending birth of the Gypsy King’s heir, and the cessation of war. Hope is a tenuous thing, and it is about to be tested.

The novel opens with a celebration to honor the much expected birth of Rudolfo’s, the Gypsy King, first child. Heads of state and allies have made their way to the Ninefold Forest to mark the occasion, and to honor the hope and dream of a more certain future. Magicked assassins, invisible and unstoppable, attack and lay waste to the new found peace. An old and forbidden magic has returned, and it threatens the world once again. Old dreams and new, pull characters and nations in different directions. Rudolfo, Jin Li Tam, Vlad Li Tam, Winters, Neb, and Petronus, find themselves propelled in different directions by mysteries and plots deeper than they knew possible.

Canticle sees Ken Scholes hit his stride as an author and storyteller. The characterizations are deeper and more dynamic. The plotting is more intricate and detailed. The writing itself is better utilized to tell the story and maintain a crisp pacing. Canticle is a better book in nearly every way than an already good debut in Lamentation. The first book serves as a sort of table setter for the deeper and larger plot that Scholes slowly unveils throughout Canticle. All the characters find themselves on uncertain footing, caught up in mysteries, plots, and resurgences that they don’t understand even as their actions have been planned and forced upon them.

Canticle has a little something for everyone. There is intrigue, espionage, and statecraft. There is action and adventure. There are mysteries, puzzles, and compelling developments. There is even deep emotion and compelling character development. Pirates. Rescues. Surprises… yes, I think real and supported surprises. Even the world building and the many story settings are interesting, creative, and well achieved. Ultimately, this is a story about family, about loss, about life, and the difficult choices in between. Family is really the central theme, and Scholes explores the strengths, weaknesses, the hopes, the pains, the compromises, and the complexities, tied up in what we perceive as family. It is something that I was able to identify with in many ways, as a father especially, but also in nearly all contexts of the idea of family.

There isn’t too much to complain about in Canticle. Outside of a scene where one of the characters happens upon a secret discussion about some of the wider events in the world, there aren’t too many developments that hit a sour note here. I was left with more questions than answers, but that isn’t really a bad thing. It’s only bad in that I’ll have to wait some months before being able to pick up that next book.

I’ve got word from Ken Scholes that he is even now working to finish the third novel in the series, Antiphon. He hopes to be done with the revisions by the end of October. After that, he plans to get started on the fourth book, Requiem. He still believes that the final book, Hymn, will be complete by late 2010 to early 2011.

If you are a fan of epic fantasy, or really speculative fiction at all, I think you’ll be well pleased at picking up The Psalms of Isaak. Lamentation was a good opening, and Canticle is an even stronger book. I found it to be a quick and very satisfying read, and I think many of you will too.


Remember that I am planning on giving away 3 copies of CANTICLE. There are two ways to qualify for the contest. You can either participate in some way in the LAMENTATION discussion, starting on the 6th of November. Or prior to November 6th, you can write a review of any book and post it on the Sci-Fi & Fantasy MB, and then noteboard me so that I am certain to see it. If you both participate in the discussion and write a review, your name will be entered twice.
This message last edited by Rebekah on 17/11/2009 at 08:54:12 AM
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Canticle by Ken Scholes - 21/10/2009 08:57:37 PM 4043 Views
I really want to read this series now. - 23/10/2009 11:59:10 AM 871 Views
I've enjoyed it so far. - 23/10/2009 02:21:07 PM 920 Views
Perhaps sometime early next year, - 27/10/2009 04:28:22 PM 922 Views
Update on the Canticle Giveaway. - 27/10/2009 06:00:23 PM 1002 Views
Never heard of him... - 04/12/2009 05:19:40 PM 855 Views
Well... - 04/12/2009 06:46:51 PM 1038 Views

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