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The Wizard Knight [Hardcover]

Gene Wolfe
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Sep 2005

THE WIZARD KNIGHT springs from the myths, legends and literature of times past.

A teenager passes from Earth to a magical realm of seven worlds, where he is given a hero's adult body and named Able. Though forced to act as a man, inside he is still a boy, even as he sets off to find his destined sword and become a knight.

In his quest he battles giants, meets gods, heroes and a sorceress (who repeatedly tries to seduce him), and serves the mercurial dragon king Arnthor in a was that could end everything.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (22 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575077093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575077096
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 6.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,620,436 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.

Product Description


A sophisticated meditation on dream and on the nature of fiction and its illusion. Wolfe deserves respect for the endless invention with which he not only subverts genre convention but challenges the assumption of all fiction. (Roz Kaeveny TLS)

Book Description

A thrilling, emotionally riveting tale of wonders by one of the field's greatest writers

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious Romance of Knights, Dragons and Faery 27 Dec 2009
What a truly extraordinary book. It's a proper, deeply old-school high fantasy. It has knights with pennants on their lances when they joust and giants and dragons and magic swords and castles. It takes cues from the high arthurian stories and from norse mythology and all the roots of most standard fantasy fiction and yet through sheer deftness and storytelling it somehow sneaks between the predictable events and avoids the cliches even as it uses them.

Do not buy this if you want post-Tolkien fantasy because I think you will be disappointed, it is rooted in the same legends that Tolkien was inspired by, but the story itself is of a different kind, revolving more around the notions of knightly conduct and how people can relate to each other, maybe closer to a medieval romance in that respect, tapestried and bright with the glare of sunshine on burnished armour. However it is not caught in that time, the storytelling is modern, but modern without ever drawing too far from the setting or being distracting to the reader. The development of the central character changes as they grow through their adventures and their writing does too.

I mostly bought it because I know Neil Gaiman is a big fan of his work and I can really see why. This is a grand story of honour, glory and adventure. It doesn't read like it's trying to be anything that it's not- you could write a book of this kind and people would read it and think "this is trying to be T.H.White" or Tolkien or whoever else - this book reads like it is it's own thing and it is clearly a classic, from start to finish. It belongs to a canon broader and more illustrious than the fantasy genre, alongside Mallory and Grimm as much as Martin and Le Guin and I recommend it strongly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Gene Wolfe has the annoying habit of making his characters waffle when they speak. On and on they rattle. They never get to the point straight away. The effect of this is to make the story rather more turgid than it needs to be. So that's not too good.

Having said that, as soon as I finished reading The Wizard Knight I went to the beginning and am now reading it a second time. You can do that sort of thing with Gene Wolfe - his stuff has depth. You find yourself willing to go to the effort.

So, a bit of a dilemma here. The story is told at a solemn pace, with the characters yacking more than they should - but on the hand it is worth reading twice over.

Some of his other works are marred in the same way - too much hanging around, waiting for the salient points to emerge - so we have to suppose that it is intentional. It isn't sloppy writing: it's a way, one imagines, of spreading the story out and making it plod onwards. He must have his reasons for doing it that way, I suppose. Perhaps it is this lack of urgency which makes this stuff literature rather than a bog-standard work of fantasy.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Be Re-Read... 13 Feb 2007
I can see why some people might not like this book - it's huge, and drags in some places. However, it's a gripping read and I was hooked from start to finish.

It's not a typical fantasy novel, I feel - or perhaps just not the sort that I tend to read. I found it a lot more serious than books I usually read, though not in a negative way. The depth of the narration makes it easy to empathise with the characters, although I must admit that the way some of them behave (including the main character, in fact) occasionally had me wondering if they were the sort of people I would like to know.

As someone mentioned, it has a slight dry part, around two-thirds/three quarters of the way in (about half-way through 'The Wizard'), but I still enjoyed reading it. As for the comment about magic being used to finish the story in a satisfactory way (a happy ending), the theme of the entire story is honour, and Sir Able has promised not to use his gifts, and only uses them when forced to.

The book reads as though it could continue at the end, which I hope very much it will - it's always sad to reach the end of a good story, especially one as long and involving as this - if I get the chance to follow Sir Able again, I certainly will. This book will definitely be re-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you have already read The Knight & The Wizard, don't buy this - it is simply these two previous novels bound in one volume. Amazon rarely bothers to make this clear - and the back cover gives no clue - but this is indeed the case. That said, if you are coming to the Knight/Wizard for the first time, you are in for a treat, a great story, told in an intriguing narrative style, where information is dropped in out of sequence - a beautifully written tale which invites immediate re-reading
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A phantasmagorical read 28 May 2006
I totally disagree with the previous review, to the extent that I wonder whether we read the same book. Admittedly, I'm a long-time admirer of Wolfe's writing, having loved the 'Books of the New Sun'. As usual, the author does his trick of conjuring up a highly readable narrative which has hidden depths. The story, on the surface a conventional fantasy quest, frequently slides into symbolist visions that remind me of the paintings of Gustav Moreau.

The story is narrated by Able, a boy who is brought from our world to a realm which mixes Norse and Arthurian mythology. He's not the most disciplined narrator, often clumsily skipping back and forth as he writes, giving Wolfe a crafty chance to create suspense by offering hints of what's to come. He can also be somewhat simple-minded and of a bit of a bully. Mind you, if you were an eleven year old boy given the body of a strapping knight, you'd probably be tempted to throw your weight around too.

So is this a clever book that's doing something new with fantasy, or just an entertaining yarn? I really don't know, but I do know I throughly enjoyed it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars dull, uninteresting and lifeless
Well, first I was kind of put of by how giant this book is! It weighs a ton and is really thick, making it hard to read...well...anywhere! But I persevered, and tried to read it. Read more
Published on 1 July 2010 by Larewen Evenstar
1.0 out of 5 stars Just Awful
i've never felt the need to review a book on here before, but this book has earned my utmost contempt.

A complete waste of time. Read more
Published on 20 Feb 2009 by Mr. J. Kenny
1.0 out of 5 stars A tedious mess of a book
I started this book in high spirits, thinking it looks really interesting, and gradually as I read I was let down further and further until I ground through the last 300 pages or... Read more
Published on 21 April 2008 by Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Knight of ghosts and shadows / I summoned am to tourney
I'm not given to reviewing books on Amazon often, but I'm frankly amazed that some reviewers found this fantastic book unreadable or uninspired. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2007 by D. I. Macdonald
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Rubbish
This must be quite the worst fantasy book I've ever read. The major flaw is that it's written in the first person... Read more
Published on 5 April 2007 by Jamie Lang
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but heavily flawed
What could have been a fairly good, albeit somewhat mundane two-novel series (which has been collected as one in this printing, the two novels being known separately as "The... Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2007 by James McGovern
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping fantasy epic
I was somewhat taken aback by some of the more negative reviews here of this novel, as I got so much pleasure from reading it. Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2007 by Megamunch
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for ALL true fantasy fans
This is my first Gene Wolfe book that I have read and wow was I blown away.

An absolutely amazing story with such detail that I have only ever come across in the likes... Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2006 by Mr. P. G. Lewis
1.0 out of 5 stars In brief
I wrote a long and in-depth review about this book a few weeks ago and it still has not been published. Read more
Published on 10 July 2006 by Secret Squirrell 99
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