four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
10-May-June-2004
By: 
Gene Wolfe
user_rating: 
0

A-Knight"Dear Ben," an American teenage boy writes to his older brother, "You must have stopped wondering what happened to me a long time ago." Thus begins a boy's retelling of his strange adventures in a parallel world. When he leaves his family cabin for a walk in the woods, he falls asleep and is transported to a castle floating in the sky. He awakens, his memory partially erased, in a magical universe, where an elf queen names him Sir Able of the High Heart and transforms him into a man. He encounters giants, dragons, and monsters while in search of a magical sword, which he must use to earn his knighthood, and survive.
Tor. 430 pages. $25.95.

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"...Gene Wolfe not only entertains, he invests his work with a complexity and trickiness that place him among the most important American novelists of our time. ... But you don't need to know Wolfe's earlier work to be caught up in a novel that blends, imaginatively and briskly, Arthurian ideals, Celtic legends and Norse mythology." Michael Dirda

SF Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"It's worth remembering, however, that Wolfe is one of the least straightforward writers in the genre, and this first half of The Wizard Knight is unlike anything the reader has encountered before. ... The Knight ranks among Wolfe's most enjoyable and accessible books, and it leaves the reader eager for the concluding volume." Michael Berry

San Diego Union-Trib 4 of 5 Stars
"Start with prose that is translucent unto luminosity, add in an epistolary narrator who is scrupulously honest with himself and his reader, and you have a good basic recipe for any novel. ... You won't be able to put this book down, and you'll be waiting for Vol. II, The Wizard." Jim Hopper

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Like Robert Heinlein's famous young adult SF novels, Wolfe's new fantasy series has enough wit to entertain adults and enough adventure to keep teens turning pages." Dorman T. Shindler

Rocky Mtn News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"This 'sword and sorcery' duo is much more akin to Terry Brooks' Landover series, The Hobbit and the Harry Potter stories than anything he has written before. ... By borrowing much from Norse mythology, other myths and the traditions of the Arthurian legend and incorporating them into his story, Wolfe has created a believable alternate world and a tale that will encourage fantasy lovers to look forward to the publication of The Wizard." Mark Graham

Critical Summary

Critics can't wait for The Wizard, the promised sequel to The Knight. The award-winning Wolfe has written many fantasy books, but this one, full of imagination and panache, is among his best. The story starts with a convincing if unreliable narrator, after all, the protagonist is a boy in a man's body, and can't, to humorous ends, discern motives. At times, Wolfe's foreshadowing may confuse the reader, and the form, a long letter penned to Ben, might not please traditional fantasy fans. Luckily, short, adventure-filled chapters capture the reader's attention. Wolfe, the Washington Post concludes, "not only entertains, he invests his work with a complexity and trickiness that place him among the most important American novelists of our time." To be continued.