A Memory of Song (First Verse of the Last Ballad), by Scott Palmer

6 Jun 2024

The Book

A Memory of Song
Series: The Last Ballad
Pages: 543
Age Group: Adult
Published on 29 May 2024
Publisher: Self-published
Available on:


In a dying land, the armies of the dead hold sway. And those who rule them are more god than human.

James Culdaine, the last heir of the Northern Throne, was just a young man when the armies of the South murdered his parents and subjugated his lands. He has never forgotten those responsible, nor has he forgiven. He has spent the last ten years living in isolation with The Feldarra; a sacred Northern clan of fierce warriors, led by the fearless Wulfee who, still reeling from the loss of her own children, finds new meaning in protecting what only family she has left.

Now, an ancient order of warlocks has returned to the North, singing dark songs composed of blood magic that null the elements and threaten all that is living.

With nature depleted and the Southern armies returning to the North, James struggles to embrace the unique power he has long tried to repress; the ability to commune with the spirits of the dead. In the bitter heart of a growing war, with the world dying around them, James and Wulfee desperately seek answers, vengeance, and a way to save the ones they love... No matter the cost.

Fires refuse to burn. The skies are thirsty and breathless. The earth won’t eat its rot…

Welcome to Ardura.

My Review

A Memory of Song is the first book in the grimdark series The Last Ballad, written by the Canadian author Scott Palmer. Pitched as Braveheart meets A Song of Ice and Fire, we have an ambitious story told in a dual POV which, while keeping the elements of an epic and dark saga, puts the focus on the journey of the characters through an incredible world with a clear Nordic inspiration, but which keeps an interesting twist.

Two broken people who are in their own path looking for revenge and to protect those they love. We have Wulfee, the leader of the Feldarra, a mother seeking vengeance against her husband for losing her sons; and James (we need to talk about this name), the displaced heir to the Northern throne, but whose destiny and powers reserve for him a bigger role than just recovering it.
Despite the parallel line that can be drawn between both, they are quite different, and that gets reflected into the story. Wulfee's quest is moved by anger and emotion, pure stubbornness and a resilience that won't allow her to stop until she gets her payoff; however, this will imply experiencing dark moments that she didn't think about. We could say that Wulfee's POV is more mundane, putting the emphasis on the strength, in the battle and the blood.
In comparison, James' path is more erratic, as he seems to be prone to doubt; there's less agency as at many points is spoiled by the pressure of others. There's more mysticism and supernatural powers implicated; and the fantasy elements shine more when we are following James.

Even if the focus is put on the characters, Palmer has a talent to make the world-building shine; we can see the Nordic influences, and by points, it might remember to the Hound parts in Abercrombie's writing. However, it keeps adding details, creating a vast net of politics and relationships between different houses; and the magic details are absolutely perfect (but I'm a bit biased because I love when music is used as the base for magic).
Pacing can be a bit rough at points, especially when we are touching James' journey, but the prose makes it compulsively readable.

A dark book, but which uses those moments to weave an epicness that remembers to ASOIAF; it is difficult to believe this is Palmer's first book. I can't wait to return to Ardura; and honestly, if you want to read epic and grim fantasy, you should be running to pick A Memory of Song.

The Author/s

Scott Palmer

Scott Palmer

Scott Palmer was born in London, Ontario, Canada, where he lives with his wife, daughter, and two cats, and they conjure up magic (love and happiness) daily. His whole life has been a journey of collecting stories and stowing them like a library of experiences. 

Growing up in Middle Earth, Kanto, and Hyrule, before moving to darker worlds like Westeros, The Circle of The World, and The Randlands provided a sturdy foundation for Scott’s imagination to grow upon. He travelled to those other worlds and walked, and fought, and bled with the people that lived there. It was somewhere in those pages that he fell in love with the art of storytelling. Since taking those first steps out of reality, Scott has immersed himself in creating his own world. A place that could transport readers somewhere they could only dream of. A place of magic, and love, forgotten lore, and long history.

Scott started writing seriously in 2020 and now he cannot stop.