cover image Hymn


Ken Scholes. Tor, $28.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2131-2

Scholes’s conclusion to his complex Psalms of Isaak fantasy quintet amply rewards his fans. The series is set on a future Earth populated by humans, dragons, and androidlike mechoservitors, including Isaak, whose role in the destruction of a great library kicked off the saga. This book picks up from the conclusion of Requiem (2013), continuing the war between the two major factions, the religious zealots of the Y’Zirite Empire and the Androfrancine Order of the Named Lands. As in the best epics, the grand conflicts are humanized by individual tragedies, and here Scholes dwells on the sorrow and rage of Androfrancine leader Lord Rudolfo, whose son, Jakob, was abducted and believed to have been murdered by Rudolfo’s father-in-law, Vlad Li Tam. The quest for revenge is just one of many story lines, and the series’ ambitious scope can make compression of a character’s backstory border on the parodic (“he’d buried a city, fallen in love, joined the Foresters, been captured in the Churning Wastes by Y’Zirites and discovered that his adopted father wasn’t dead after all... and that his real father was actually a Younger God”). Newcomers will be struck by Scholes’s talent but lost in his tangled story; returning readers who have eagerly waited for this series to conclude will be thrilled. (Dec.)