From the start, Gene Wolfe has consistently maintained his image as a classically educated writer, with a hugely gifted imagination, and an ability to use language which is far beyond what most writers today (or yesterday, for that matter) will ever aspire to. He's a brilliant short story writer *and* a fully developed novelist. The fact that he just *happens* to be writing what is probably best called "science fantasy" is a secondary issue. With "The Book Of The New Sun" series, he carved out a lasting legacy for more than a few generations of readers yet to come.
We're doubly fortunate, though, that he hasn't limited himself to *only* the many books in the various "Sun" collections he's most famous for. While it's hard to say I could like *anything* better than THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER---SOLDIER OF THE MIST is easily one of my *favorite* Wolfe novels. The setting is Greece in 479 B.C. Soldier Latro has a head injury. Because of this, his memory can only last about 12 hours. So, he writes on a scroll what happens to him each day, and then reads what he's written first thing every morning. A simple premise. But---oh, my! The story that unfolds is one of Wolfe's most unusual and intriguing books. Other reviewers have explained some of the events that Latro experiences. However, there's another aspect of this novel that I find most interesting of all. Because of his memory problem, Latro is very much trapped in "the eternal now." Yet, as the reader, remembering all that has occured from page one, you gradually become aware of a variety of changes in his environment, of which Latro is totally unaware. Wolfe handles this like the Master that he is. It's an example of what I like to call *true* fantasy (as opposed to how most people use that term). It really is a great book.
It raises the question, for me, as to what extent *any* of us can completely trust our own perceptions about the world, or even about ourselves. What, I wonder, could *I* be overlooking as I move along, from day to day...things that are totally obvious, not hidden...but which I'm just not able to see? I don't fret about it. But I do wonder, from time to time.
READ THIS ONE!