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Soldier of the Mist Paperback – 31 Dec 1987

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Product details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (31 Dec 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812558154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812558159
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 2.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 476,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gene Wolfe is the author of two dozen novels and hundreds of shorter stories. He is best known for the three multi-part series The Book of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book of the Short Sun, as well as for the acclaimed duology, The Wizard Knight. Over his forty-year career, he has won the Nebula Award, the John W. Campbell Award, the World Fantasy Award, the British Science Fiction Award, the Locus Reader's Poll, the Rhysling (for poetry), and many others. In 1996, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Fantasy Convention, and in 2007 he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He lives in Barrington, Illinois, with his wife Rosemary.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
One of Gene Wolf's common theams is memory. In The Book of the New Sun the hero Severian remembers everything, In the Soldier books the hero Latro cannot remember anything for more than a few hours.
Wounded in battle he knows nothing of who he is, who he fought for or even where he came from. Called "Latro", meaning Soldier, by the healer he begins his travels to find out who he is and how to get home.
Treating the past as another world Gene Wolf brings us a world where gods are real and reality fades with the Latro's memory. It is not as epic as the Book of The New Sun but I found that Latro was a more sympathetic hero, he may be a great warrior but he cannot remember his victories. He is constantly lost and has to rely on those around him for guidance. Sometime their guidance is not in his best interest.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By merlinme VINE VOICE on 21 Dec 2000
Format: Paperback
Certain themes recur in Gene Wolfe's novels; one of them is memory. In the Book of the New Sun series, Severian has a perfect memory; in Soldier in the Mist, the main character is an Ancient Greek who has no memory at all beyond the present day, so he has to write down important events (which make up the novel). He has been given the power of communicating with the ancient greek gods, and this novel describes his adventures in dealing with them and with his memory loss. It's a fascinating idea, and I'm curious if the makers of the film Memento had come across this novel. I love Wolfe's writing, and there are lovely moments in this novel, evoking a world in which the main character can communicate with very powerful forces, but has very little power over his own destiny. In the end, however, I think the stylistic difficulties got the better of the writer; the book doesn't really reach much of a conclusion, and it's difficult to get narrative continuity when the writer is supposed to remember almost nothing. There is a sequel, but I was very disappointed with it, so I shouldn't try too hard to get hold of it. Stick with this book, and treat it as a curiosity by one of the finest fantasy writers of our age.
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By Mr M.R.Watkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Mar 2014
Format: Paperback
Gene Wolfe is a heavyweight of the SF&F world. He is, it must also be acknowledged, sometimes rather heavy going. His various Sun novels are loaded with outlandish imagery, esoteric terminology (usually drawn from Ancient Greek & Roman history), and highly ornamented descriptive passages. Surprisingly enough, this book and its sequel (Soldier of Arete) are, in that sense, a much easier read, notwithstanding the fact they are actually set in Ancient Greece.

The story is straightforward enough. Written in the first person, in beautiful prose, we are reading the journal of Latro, a mercenary with the defeated army of the Great King, retreating in disarray after the 479BC Battle of Plataea. He has received a head wound, which causes him to forget; by the evening, he cannot remember the morning, when he has slept, the previous day is more or less gone. His journal is his only memory now...

Wolfe is one of only two authors, in my opinion, who truly can be called masters of both Fantasy & SF, Zelazny being the other. Whilst Soldier in the Mist isn't as weighty as the various Sun series it is brilliantly atmospheric throughout, even to the extent of the foreword that explains the "existence" of the scrolls on which the journal is written. If you've read any of his Sun novels and enjoyed them, I think you'll like this. If you've read any of them and didn't, don't let them put you off trying this; it really is a superb novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Not the best by Wolfe, but good 18 July 2002
By Kevin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is set in Ancient Greece, during the Persian Wars. The protagonist, Latro, is a soldier who has recieved a head wound and forgets very quickly. Therefore, he keeps a journal to tell himself who he is and what has happened to him--and that journal is this book. When I first heard about this, I was skeptical that a coherent novel could be written this way, but Wolfe makes it work without stretching believability too much.
Wolfe describes the setting effectively. In order to prevent the reader from using prior knowledge of Greek history or mythology to unfair advantage, he usually replaces the Greek proper names with the protagonist's translations (sometimes incorrect!), which are then rendered into English. This makes the reader nearly as disoriented as the characters, making the book more interesting. Some readers may be annoyed that Wolfe never stops to explain anything, but I think it's better this way, since it avoids the contrived plot devices and character behavior that are often necessary for more explicit exposition. Wolfe's characters are realistic enough, and it's interesting to watch Latro's development as a character and the ways he deals with his affliction.
Of course, I do have some complaints. The first few chapters were boring, and sometimes the plot seemed to drift, as if the author, as well as Latro, had forgotten what he was doing. This aside, Soldier of the Mist could make a good introduction to Wolfe for those who find the New Sun series intimidating. I rarely had much trouble with that longer (and better) work, but some do, and they may be glad that the worldbuilding, allusions, and descriptive language have been toned down. If you have already read and liked Wolfe, then read this. It won't change your life, but it is a solid and rewarding novel.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Limitations Of One's Own Perceptions 1 July 2001
By Jon G. Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An interesting idea, deftly rendered. 24 Mar 2004
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Someone said elsewhere that this felt like an exercise for Wolfe, and I know what they mean-- using a Memento-like plot (a main character who loses his memory at the end of every day) Wolfe sketches the world of ancient Greece through the eyes of a soldier named Latro.

The details are compelling-- I was uninterested in the real historical value (people should not be trying to derive history lessons from fantasy novels) but Wolfe does a good job, as usual, of creating a realistic and detailed world for Latro to inhabit.

The plot is somewhat less compelling. It is nearly a necessity of the trope that he chose that the plot becomes confusing (particularly in times when Latro couldn't write his journal) and I'm sad to say that I often didn't feel any kind of guiding line that was coherent enough to motivate me through the confusion.

Interesting for Wolfe completists or real fans of historical fiction, not a place to begin with his work otherwise.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining story that nobody else could have told. 13 Dec 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
With `Soldier of the Mist' Gene Wolfe attempts to tell a story that would stop any other author in their tracks. `Soldier of the Mist' is the diary of Latro, a soldier of ancient Rome (maybe) who suffered a head wound on the battlefield. Every day when Latro awakens, he has a new case of amnesia. Not only does he not know who he is, but whatever he learns lasts only one day. He has found travelling companions in his search for his identity, and every morning they have him read his diary to learn who he is. Every night he makes new entries, hoping they will be useful in the coming day. The next morning he will face the world as new, knowing only what he's written and what he sees in front of him.

Latro wanders ancient Greece dealing with war, politics, gods and goddesses. His lack of knowledge and prejudices let him (and you) see the world of the ancients in an entirely new light.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A fractured tale, beautifully rendered 10 Feb 2006
By Raymond Nance - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Anybody who has seen the recent movie "Memento" knows the premise: the protagonist (in this case a wounded mercenary) has lost his longterm memory, and so can only remember what happens to him for one day. In both the movie and this book, he tries to compensate by writing down what he needs to know. Gene Wolfe's fine novel, however, far predates "Memento", and the world it describes, Greece in the 5th century BC, is a far more exotic and alien place.

As a piece of craft, this is a wonderful book--full of apt and elegant descriptions, sparely but deftly rendered characters, and eruptions of violence that pack surprising power. Wolfe is a writer who transcends the genre he happens to be working in, which is something of a miracle in today's pigeon-holed, dumbed-down publishing climate. My only complaint is that he perhaps takes his conceit too far, throwing in one or two too many shifts in time and place (and, in the case of one character, even gender) so that the plot remains less involving that it might have been.

All in all, this is a remarkable achievement.
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