The Wizard Knight Hardcover – 22 Sep 2005
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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)
A thrilling, emotionally riveting tale of wonders by one of the field's greatest writersSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
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. Reaching the last pages made me sad because I genuinely didn't want it to end.
I cannot say who will or won't like this book, because - as other reviews indicate - if what you are looking for is a standard run-of-the-mill fantasy you will probably be disappointed and it may be almost too traditional in story for many genre fans, but if you are in any doubt then I strongly recommend giving this a try. It is truly brilliant.
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I have read it many many times.
I would recommend this to any fantasy fiction fan.
A complete waste of time.Read more