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The Lost Art Hardcover – 5 Jul 2007
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"Another fat book offering plenty of entertainment" (Independent)
"Morden combines science fiction and fantasy in a novel with a cracking pace that pitches savagery and bigotry against reason" (TES)
"A big book and a big read . . . Action-packed, the plot is revealed gradually, drawing the reader on, with good descriptions of a colourful world" (The School Librarian)
"Highly recommended as a summer read for all sci-fi fans and might inspire the younger ones to ask deeper-probing questions" (thebookbag.co.uk)
"There is no doubt that this novel is compelling. The various mysteries in the story combine to keep the reader turning the page and the world in which it is set is fascinating" (writeaway.org.uk) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
A stunning slice of future-fiction for the Matrix generation --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
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Va is a monk and member of a church dedicated to locking away the technological past. When his monastery is sacked, his brothers murdered and a book of forbidden knowledge stolen, he and Elenya (a woman from his past who is hopelessly devoted to him) embark on a quest to get it back. His quest coincides with the arrival of Benzamir Mahmood on the planet who is engaged in a mission of his own. As their quests coincide they discover that power greater than either imagined is about to be unleashed - a power that could devastate the planet again ...
Although Simon Morden's science fiction novel is billed as young adult, there's more here that will appeal to grown up readers. It's a mature tale filled with adult characters (the only teenager is Wahir, a boy who assumes the job of Benzamir's servant) and the storytelling is complex, with key information not really emerging until the final quarter. There's also a certain amount of violence both on and off the page, which may be disturbing to some.
The world-building is convincing and the characters are great. Benzamir is a fascinating character - enthralled by a world he's from but never seen and horrified by the way in which humans have allowed themselves to forget their scientific curiosity. Va is his complete opposite and (for me) the star of the book - a reformed mercenary who is now committed to his faith and desperate to ensure that a book of forbidden knowledge is locked away again. Equally fascinating is Elenya, a former princess who promised her love to Va, only to lose him when he did as she asked and who has now lost herself as well.
It's a great story that combines politics, imagination and poses interesting questions about what we're doing with the planet. I found it enthralling and can't recommend it highly enough.
I loved the basic premise, the set up, the history, the world building - all that. It was inventive, fresh, innovative. It felt like something I hadn't read before, and that's rare enough. I liked how it began as a sort of cod-historical fantasy world, but gradually morphed into sci-fi. I liked the protagonist, Benzamir. But the bulk of my issues with the book are with all the other characters.
For a start, it's not apparent that Benzamir *is* the protagonist until several chapters in. We have a strand following Va and Elenya. We have another strand following Akisi. Benzamir is one more story strand - and after a while he becomes the main one. The story begins with Va and Elenya - so I assumed they were the main characters - but then they're not in it again for a long time.
And they are odd. Not in a good way. I didn't find either of them remotely convincing. All of their sections read as though there's a previous book in the series that I haven't read. There is a lot of history between these two, and it is sort of introduced in dribs and drabs, but I didn't feel it was handled very convincingly or satisfyingly. As the book progressed I began to wonder if the author has ever had any relationships with women, or spoken to them at all...
There was a line about half way through which typified this strange attitude. I can't remember the exact phrase, but the sentiment was: she's a princess, and therefore obviously beautiful and desirable. I really tried to look for some context that would make this irony - but I didn't find any. Also odd is that this information wasn't given until this far into the story - either that she was a princess or that she was beautiful. But after it had been announced it became her defining traits, and all that anyone commented on! And everyone fell in love with her. Because she was a princess. And therefore beautiful :-/ Nevermind obsessive, deluded, and verging on madness...
So that annoyed me a lot. But even so there was a lot I enjoyed about the story. In short, it's good on ideas, bad on relationships. Approach with caution - but do approach.
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