Category: "The Wizard Knight"

The Knight - Gene Wolfe

January 31st, 2006

The Knight by Gene WolfeA novel in two volumes, THE WIZARD KNIGHT is in the rare company of those works which move past the surface of fantasy and drink from the wellspring of myth. Magic swords, dragons, giants, quests, love, honor, nobility -- all the familiar features of fantasy come to fresh life in this masterful work.

The story begins in THE KNIGHT, when a young man in his teens is transported from our world to a magical realm which contains seven levels of reality. Very quickly transformed by magic into a grown man of heroic proportions, he takes the name Sir Able of the High Heart and sets out on a quest to find the sword that has been promised to him, a sword he will get from a dragon, the one very special blade that will help him fulfill his life ambition to become a true knight and a true hero.

A book-dealer friend picked up an extra copy of this book for me at the World Fantasy Convention. As it was not given directly to me, but rather given to my dad to give to me, I never found out whether or not it came with a recommendation. I decided to read it regardless.

The young boy, somehow transplanted into this strange world sets out to find meaning in the words of an old lady. He meets characters, significant and otherwise, along the way to chase his dream of becoming a true knight. Or was it that dream chased him? In either event, the book grabbed my attention and would not let go. The beginning pulled me in so quickly, I hardly realized it had happened.

There was a plot twist that shook me back to my senses. When the boy is transformed into a man, the book goes in a new direction; one I did not necessarily like. And unfortunately this happened a mere 60 pages in. The young boy did little more than thirst for each and every modicum of education of how to become a true night. As a man, he simply began to tell people that he was a knight and that they need tend to his every whim. It was as if all character he had as a boy was traded for age. If that were the case, he got a raw deal.

The book was light and fast moving, so I kept at it. It ventured down a few paths that I may not have thought the best, but I never stopped reading. The end of the book was very weird and hardly fit at all with what had led up to it, yet on I went. Try though I might, to figure out what happened at the end, I cannot. All I know is that with each time the Sir Able came to a door I had to find out what was on the other side.

I did not love The Knight, but I could not put it down. Until the book was done, I did not realize it, but I had to know what happened next. No matter how weird the ending of The Knight was, I knew that I had to buy The Wizard and see how Sir Able fairs. I bought book 2, stay tuned...

I know this is not the most glowing praise for a book, but kudos to Gene Wolfe for inciting this strange reaction in me. If nothing else, Mr. Wolfe, you sold one more book.

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