Select one of the keywords
The Knight: The Wizard Knight Book 1    by Gene Wolfe order for
by Gene Wolfe
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The tale of The Knight is in the form of a long letter from a boy to his brother Ben back home in America. You see, this boy wandered in the woods and ended up in another world, actually a series of layered worlds (though not everyone can see them) in each of which time passes differently, and with the Valfather's castle floating in the clouds. Parka, an old crone in a cave, named him 'Able of the High Heart' and told him to plant three spiny orange seeds.

Able wanders through the world of Mythgarthr and meets crazy Bold Berthold ('as brave as any man I have ever known') who claims him as his lost brother and teaches him. Able encounters and admires a knight named Ravd, and then helps and falls in love with Disiri the Mossmaiden, queen of the Aelf, whose kiss turns him into a man before she disappears. Able decides to be a knight and wanders Mythgarthr, defeating outlaws on land and pirates at sea, and demonstrating a combination of high ideals and casual brutality.

An innocent at his new profession, he gradually acquires a train of followers as he develops knightly skills. There's one-eyed Pouk, a shapechanging dog named Gylf, a pair of lusty Aelf maids, a chameleon ogre, a cat named Mani, a resentful squire, and phantom knights who come to his aid at a critical moment. Able climbs into a volcano and is healed by the sea's power. He takes on new quests at every turn, including one assigned him by Disiri, to win the sword Eterne. He's brave and high-hearted, and somehow still a boy.

The Knight is high fantasy and somewhat abstract, with a dreamlike delivery of events. You have to enjoy this particular style. Even though I was not engaged by it, I still have to admire the brilliance of the edifice of imagination built by Gene Wolfe in this first of what promises to be an enchanting series.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews