Antiphon (The Psalms of Isaak)
by Ken Scholes
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765321299
Date: 14 September 2010 / Show Official Info /
The Named Lands remain in trouble as the Androfrancine Order failed to keep the peace when the monks were in charge. Instead the arrogant feral monks focused on understanding the technology and magic of the ancient Wizard Kings rather than the people they ruled. The order struggles with a song found in the wastes that they hope they can control to bring back the power they've lost. Adding to the land's troubles is the bellicose revival of the Y’Zirite religion, whose history of violence is frightening to any sane person.
As a child, Nebious watched the horrific genocide of the city of Windwir. Now he is chieftain of the desert but misses his beloved queen of the Marsh. Women warriors stalk him seeking his death and his sleep is disturbed by violent nightmares. His mother the Ninefold Forest Queen Jin Li Tam tries to keep her son safe, but knows how difficult that is as bloody warriors travel the lands waiting for the opportunity to assassinate him. His mother informs Nebious that her religious leaders insist Jakop, the baby son of the Gypsy King Rudolfo, is the "Child of Promise" prophecy that some cults want dead and others want crowned. However, unbeknownst to the Queen and her son in the shadows lies the greater danger from an invincible invisible foe at a time when the music spreads leaving Rudolfo and his advisers to wonder what it means and how to react to it.
The third volume of the Psalms of Isaak (see Lamentation and Canticle) continues the superb blending of science fiction and fantasy in a powerful epic tale. The story line is fast-paced and laced with action as well as a strong mystery cutting across the myriad of subplots. Yet somehow all this action and adventure blend together while also moving forward the overarching theme.
The cast is loaded with a vast horde of fully developed players who represent different aspects of the Named Lands' variety of societies. The individuals who lead the diverse subplots are fully developed with the obvious leads like Rudolfo and Nebious as expected to be three dimensional, but secondary key players are also. That is the marvel of how creative and talented Ken Sholes is as these critical support players do not trip over each other; instead they propel forward the subplots into a cohesive tale.
With all that is going on and a potent cast, Antiphon retains a vivid deep look that enables the reader to picture the Named Lands. Although it helps to have read the previous two thrillers to fully understand how far the tale has come since Lamentations, fans of the saga will relish this strong entry as Mr. Schoels is three for three with one of the best ground-breaking series in years.