Scholes, Ken. Lamentation. Tor, 2009 (2008).
The fantasy worlds of modern authors really haven't made as much of an impact upon me as they might have, of late, but Scholes' Lamentation manages to emerge pretty well from the sludge of would-be Tolkiens and not-quite Le Guinns that have plagued the fantasy bookshelves of late. Lamentation is set in a far-off world on an apparently quite compact continent, and the novel opens with the destruction of the ancient city of Windiwir, home to most of that continent's knowledge. The narrative is told from the perspective of several key characters, which allows Scholes to keep the novel's focus on major players in several key players all at once, and the plot is strong but well supplemented by rich description.
Although Scholes' reliance upon stylistic elements introduced by Tolkien and the Star Wars canon is pretty clear, and although the narrative voice (unfortunately) doesn't change with each shift of narrator, there are many good things about this book. The choice of narrators is excellent, giving readers insight into certain villainous activities about which other characters are unaware, and keeping two key characters, in particular, far enough from the various narrative voices to maintain crucial elements of mystery and surprise. Scholes' women (all two of them) are interesting, strong, and likeable, and I might be inclined to read the sequel of this text if only to watch their further adventures unfold. On the other hand, while the possible heroes are flawed enough to be interesting, the major villains of Lamentation are dry and uninteresting.
I enjoyed this book, and would not be opposed to reading at least one of its four intended sequels (not all of which have yet been published) but I hope that future volumes in the saga will be less derivative and more complex.