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February 10, 2011

Book Review - Canticle by Ken Scholes

Welcome to Day 3 of Book Week at Dave's Buttoned-Up Mind! Or should that be "in Dave's Buttoned-Up Mind?"

Ahem, anyway...

Today's entry is yet another 2-for-1.

Have you ever been browsing at a bookstore and picked up something where the cover looked kind of neat. You read the back, and the description sounded kind of interesting too. Then you read a passage in the book and were just wowed?

Canticle (The Psalms of Isaak)That happened to me with Ken Scholes, when I was visiting White Dwarf books (the local SF bookstore here in Vancouver). I was looking through the "New Arrivals" section of the store and saw this interesting-looking book called Canticle. It looked like a political fantasy book, maybe a bit along the lines of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice & Fire" series (though not quite as grim).

Since this was book 2 in the series, I had to pick up the first book and read that. This is one continuing story, so I didn't want to jump into the middle of it.

LamentationThe first book is called Lamentation, and the cover just completely drew me in. Lots of birds, soldiers on horses, and all of that. I'm sure you'll agree. I raced through this book because it was almost impossible to put down.

Here are the links to my reviews of the two books: Lamentation and Canticle.

Here's the setup for Book 1:
"Some ancient technology or magic has destroyed the city of Windwir, home of the Androfrancine Order and the collected knowledge of most of the world both before the cataclysm hundreds of years ago and today. Sethbert, Overseer of the Entrolusian City States, glories in the results of what he has done, but others are also quick to react. A former member of the Androfrancine Order comes to see for himself the destruction that was wrought. Rudolfo, Lord of the Ninefold Forest Houses, comes to exact justice for the perpetrator of this foul deed, and other leaders of the Named Lands do as well. War is brewing as all sides play the game of politics. These leaders will have to choose which side of the game they will join."
I loved both the characters and Scholes' plotting in this book, and even more so in the second book:
"The ancient Androfrancine city of Windwir is gone, destroyed by an ancient weapon used with misguided intentions. Windwir was the seat of power and knowledge in the Named Lands, and the last Androfrancine Pope, Petronus, has charged Rudolfo, the leader of the Ninefold Forest Houses, with protecting what remains of that knowledge and potentially rebuilding it through the mechanized men that the Androfrancines were hiding. It’s been nine months, Rudolfo will soon have an heir, and he is holding a celebratory feast. Suddenly, strange hidden assassins burst into the room, killing the noble guests from the various other lands, with the strange exception of Rudolfo himself. At the same time, another mechanized man appears at the gates to the Churning Wastes with a message to Petronus, a message that will spark an exploration of the Wastes in order to find what knowledge may have been hidden away - or what ancient enemy may be finally willing to reveal itself."
Scholes' prose just keeps you reading as the various events unravel in front of you. The characters all have their strengths and weaknesses that define them and carry the plot forward. The plotting is so intricate, with secret machinations on top of secret machinations, that I was riveted from beginning to end.

While there is a little action, this series is not for the action junkie. There's a lot of thought going on behind everything, but there isn't a lot of swordplay. Those interested only in that sort of thing should check out Michael Stackpole or R.A. Salvatore.

Check out the reviews and let me know what you think!


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