Audiobook Review: Lamentations by Ken Scholes

28 06 2012

Lamentations (Psalms of Isaac, Bk. 1) by Ken Scholes

Read by Stefan Rudnicki, Scott Brick, William Dufris and Maggi-Meg Reed

Macmillan Audio

Length: 14 Hrs 49 Min

Genre: Science Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: Lamentations is an exciting start to a series that blends science fiction and fantasy in a fun way. I think some hard core fantasy fans will find aspects of this novel derivative of the genre, yet,  for those who like vast conspiracies, political maneuverings, battles, romance and robots, and are willing to accept some plotting that can be a tab bit overly complex, you are sure to have a fun time following these characters on their adventures.

Grade: B+

Back when I first began listening to Audiobooks, I never truly understood the importance of narrators. One of the biggest complains about audiobooks is that the narrator creates another layer between the text and the listener and doesn’t allow for the pure, unfiltered consumption of literature that reading print does. Before becoming an audiobook enthusiast, this was something I feared. Yet, what I didn’t realize is that with audiobooks, a sort of relationship is formed between the listener and the narrator. The human animal likes to be told stories, and some of our earliest heroes, whether it is a beloved teacher or simply your parent, are those who read to us. This is why many audiobook fans view their favorite narrators as almost celebrity like, yet with a bond stronger than a favorite movie star or television personality. These are the people who tell us the stories we love. They sit down beside us and whisper tales of magic, intrigue, romance and adventure. There is a level of intimacy there that other performance mediums just can’t match, As an audiobook fan, I love when an author gets that. I love hearing stories about authors reaching out to their narrators, assisting them, making sure the story is being told how it is supposed to be told. One of the first series I ever listened to was Orson Scott Card’s Enderverse series, which introduced me to many of my favorite narrators, including Stefan Rudnicki, Scott Brick, Harlan Ellison, Kirby Heyborne, Gabrielle De Cuir, Emily Janice Card, and John Rubinstein, among others. I was always thrilled later when I heard a voice I recognized from that series appear in other audiobooks. I liked that Orson Scott Card would often record a foreword or afterward talking about how, in his opinion, audiobooks where the best way to experience his work, and praise the narrators who worked on his tails. It had been a while since I listened to a science fantasy reminiscent of these Ender novels, with their multi-narrator approach. When I read Scott Brick’s Audiobook Month entry of Ken Schole’s The Psalms of Isaak series, a series I had been interested in but never took the leap into actually listening, I decided that Lamentations, the first novel in this series, should be included in my audiobook week lineup,

Lamentations begins with the utter destruction of the city of Windwir, the most powerful city of the named world, leaving behind a vacuum of power, and a mystery that may shake the world to its core. Let’s face it, this is how all fantasies should start. In Lamentations, Ken Scholes doesn’t allow you to ease your way into the story, but forces you to jump in head first. With the world in chaos, and two armies converging on the devastated city, Scholes introduces you to a series of players that will shape the course of this changed world. Scholes has created an interesting world, melding magic and science, and placing it upon the ruins of a  culture that already brought about an apocalypse. This is the type of fantasy I have always enjoyed. It blends classic political epics like Game of Thrones with science based fantasy like Orson Scott Card’s Homecoming Series.  There is something familiar to this world. Its magic may be mythical, or it may be an artifact of a past scientific culture that was so advanced its science only seemed like magic. Scholes prose isn’t as crisp as Martin’s and his language tends to become a bit too flowery at times, full of language that almost feels biblical, yet where he really excels is creating complex characters and placing them in intricately plotted scenarios. Plus, there are robots. I mean, if I would have realized this was a fantasy novel with robots I may have jumped on the train much earlier, because I always like me some robots. Scholes has peppered this tale of political maneuvering with an age’s old conspiracy that requires just a bit of a well honed suspension of disbelief, but if you are willing enough to by in to the overly complex machinations of true power, well, then, it really is a whole lot of fun. Lamentations is an exciting start to a series that blends science fiction and fantasy in a fun way. I think many hard core fantasy fans will find some aspects of this novel derivative of the genre, yet,  for those who like vast conspiracies, political maneuverings, battles, romance and robots, and are willing to accept some plotting that can be a tab bit overly complex, you are sure to have a fun time following these characters on their adventures. Oh, and did I mention robots? Yeah, I guess I did.

The Audiobook edition of Lamentations featured three iconic audiobook narrators who, for me at least, have instantly recognizable voices and styles and one other narrator who I have had less experience with, but truly gave an excellent performance. Scott Brick, Stefan Rudnicki and William Dufris are all narrators I am comfortable with, and have listened to them tell many tales in single and multi-narrator productions. Maggie-Meg Reed I had heard before in David Baldacci’s Camel Club series, but, in all honesty, I didn’t remember anything about my past experiences with her work as I started this audiobook.  One of the great things about this production is all four of these narrators are excellent story tellers, and helped to immerse the listener in the story from the very beginning. Many Fantasy novels tend to have a lot of set up before the core action begins, but there isn’t that luxury of development with Lamentations. Yet, Rudnick, Brick and Dufris allowed me to instantly engage the characters they portrayed allowing the character development to hold  pace with the plot. Yet, Reed’s performance was the one that truly stood out for me in retrospect. She brought a sort of bravado to her character, Jin Li Tan, making her probably the most intriguing character of the novel. Reed doesn’t do sugary sweet, but gives her character a mature edge that truly highlighted her importance to the plot. Lamentations is a great example of novel whose audiobook version adds to the experience through  the thoughtful performances of the narrators. 

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5 responses

28 06 2012
Laurie C

You’ve convinced me! (Although mentioning Stefan Rudnicki would have probably been enough.) Adding Lamentations to the list…

28 06 2012
17 New Audiobook Reviews From Around The Web For Wed 27/06/2012

[…] Quick Thoughts: Lamentations is an exciting start to a series that blends science fiction and fantasy in a fun way… Read this review → […]

28 06 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

You planned very well putting this post on narrator day =)

29 06 2012
12 New Audiobook Reviews From Around The Web For Thu 28/06/2012

[…] Quick Thoughts: Lamentations is an exciting start to a series that blends science fiction and fantasy in a fun way… Read this review → […]

10 01 2013
The AudioBookaneers 2012 Year in Review, Part 2: Books We Missed | The AudioBookaneers

[…] by Chuck Wendig, The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams, The Twelve by Justin Cronin, Lamentations by Ken Scholes, Seed by Rob Ziegler, Empire State by Adam Christopher, Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by […]

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