The Knight: Book One of The Wizard Knight Hardcover – Jan 3 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Nebula and World Fantasy awards-winner Wolfe's new novel-the first half of a massive epic-is a reminder that no one gets called a great writer without being first of all a great storyteller. This wonderful story is narrated by a teenage boy who wanders into a universe of interlocking magical realms. Transformed into a powerful man by an elf queen, he first calls himself a knight, Sir Able of the High Heart, then begins growing into that role. Wolfe doesn't just rearrange the cliches of sword and sorcery fiction; he recreates the genre. Sorcerous knowledge is important to Sir Able's survival, but muscle and steel count for a lot too, while sympathetic curiosity and self-awareness may be even more crucial. Though beautifully told, the novel is not exactly Wolfe Lite; much of the plot underlying the action remains obscure. Able realizes that there's a lot he doesn't comprehend, some of it because knowledge was stolen from him. He must gain (or regain) understanding of the worlds around him and of himself. In this respect, Wolfe's tale somewhat resembles the quest in David Lindsay's visionary masterpiece, A Voyage to Arcturus. Whatever its literary antecedents or its ultimate destination, however, this is a compelling, breathtaking achievement.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
That national treasure, Gene Wolfe, returns with the first of two novels about a teenage boy who wanders into what may be called Faerie. Remaining a teenager in mind, he finds himself in the mightily thewed body of the classic hero, from Roland to Conan to the protagonists of current quest fantasy. The tension between his consciousness and his new body may be satirically intended, and it certainly leads to satirical effects, but it also achieves much else as the boy-knight wanders about, encountering spells, monsters, evil races, heroic comrades, and lovable (also lovely) shape changers. During his wanderings, readers may occasionally wonder what is happening and, even more, where the story is going. But they will forgive Wolfe, for his wit, erudition, narrative technique, and consummate mastery of the language sweep all before them. Furthermore, serious medievalists will admire Wolfe's skill at scooping tropes out of medieval literature by the double handful and imaginatively blending them in this extraordinary book. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
It is interesting, because the protagonist, Sir Able of the High Heart, is a child in man's form. This may be one of the reasons that this boy is able to follow high and honorable ideals where lesser grownups might falter. For this reason, Able is possibly more likeable than other Wolfe protagonists such as Severian from the Book of the New Sun (think Dorcas/Jolenta--with this said, I myself think the Book of the New Sun is among the best Fantasy/SF ever written, but I digress). Able can inspire the ideal within us and maintain his honor and be the man many of us would hope to be.
While exploring this Knight in shining armor theme, Wolfe maintains an otherworldliness and gives a unique twist to this form. Non-Wolfe lovers have complained that in the Book of the New Sun (his most highly acclaimed novels), Severian is simply an unremarkable person wandering around. While I can comprehend this point of view, the beauty of Wolfe's novels lie in his ability to draw the reader into the world with his flowing and descriptive writing style. The Knight does not disappoint in its writing, and because of the accessible theme of this work, the novice Wolfe reader will enjoy this story and the world that Wolfe creates. This reviewer certainly looks forward to the continuation of the series!
It's difficult for me to express to people how wonderful and gifted a writer Gene Wolfe is, for words often fail me. His characters are drawn so vividly, with all the frailties and imperfections that real human beings have. Severian had his perfect recall, but had the hubris to lie to the reader now and then.
In reading the negative reviews, I think it is lost on many people that Able's narrative is entirely intentional. It brings to life the mythos of his newfound world through an imperfect and immature human's perspective. Perhaps they are used to being entertained too easily in Speilberg-like dramas where no thought, imagination or discernment is demanded of the audience.
The Knight is, perhaps, the best work by Wolfe since Severian ended his days. You come away from each chapter as if you had just awakened from a dream, as if you were there. This was the first fiction I'd read in over a year, haven't been on a non-fiction bend as of late. I took my time, not wanting the magic to end too quickly, and as Arthur said in Excalibur," I didn't know how empty my soul was until it was filled."
*The Knight* is written on a deceptively simple level. Unlike some other Wolfe series, particularly New Sun and Long Sun, the style and vocabulary is extremely accessible. This is good because the sheer complexity and uniqueness of the story's world require you to constantly shuffle the pieces to see how everything fits together, and that requires a lot of concentration (so you can't sit there wondering what an archon or palestra or oubliette is).
Unlike the grim seriousness of some other Wolfe titles, *The Knight* has quite a bit of humor and fun, from the carefree mischief of the aelves to the often-ridiculous situations that able finds himself in through foolishness, conspiracy, or pure dumb luck. For instance, when the captain of the ship that Able wants to travel on won't give Able his personal bunk, Able grabs him by the ankle and dangles him out the window, making a mortal enemy on the spot.
So, yeah, I give this book ***** stars. It manages to take a hackneyed concept and make it breathtakingly original. It takes a normally insipid genre and makes it chromatic. If you can struggle through Tolkein but you can't read this, then there's something seriously wrong. Read it! Buy it now!
Most recent customer reviews
I love this book! It's really smartly written (Gene Wolfe finally foregoing his love of obscure words) with a story that feels like it's swiftly moving along. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2008 by Andy
Seriously team, I bought this book for the above good reviews. This book is a real bad read for several of the below reasons:
1. Read more
Having throughly mined out and made his own several SF ideas, Gene Wolfe turns to epic or heroic fantasy in this first half of a promised two-volume series. Read morePublished on April 12 2004 by Addison Phillips
I loved THE KNIGHT.
This may seem hardly surprising, given my well-documented worship of Wolfe's oeuvre, but the truth is that my expectations had been lower than usual this... Read more
Are you tired of generic fantasy? If you are, and you saw a book titled <b>The Knight</b> in your bookstore travels, would you pick it up? Maybe, but probably not. Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by David Roy
Wolfe's first major fantasy novel (split in two with the second half being the upcoming The Wizard) reads like a man reporting his dreams. Read morePublished on April 5 2004 by Richard J. Arndt
The book of the new sun is one of my favorite books of all time. I used to carry it around even when I wasn't reading it just to look at it sometimes and hold it. Read morePublished on March 26 2004
this book is very creative. I have never read a book in the format gene wolfe has written this novel in. I really enjoyed this book, but I just wish the ending was better.Published on March 22 2004 by AGraff