The Knight by Gene Wolfe

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Book Information  
AuthorGene Wolfe
TitleThe Knight
SeriesThe Wizard Knight
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Anonymous 
(Jan 05, 2005)

To tell you the truth, I very nearly never read this book. I saw it about a year ago and thought it looked like it was part and parcel smack dab in the middle of Tolkeinesqe genre fantasy. At that point, I was rather unwilling to read what I considered to be a Tolkien rip-off.

However, that all changed earlier this year when I heard about Wolfe's much acclaimed tetrology, The Book of the New Sun. I read the first novel, Shadow of the Torturer, but I did not have time to read any of the sequels because of school. However, Wolfe's distinctive style quickly got my attention. When I learned that he had written The Knight, I quickly went back to the library and picked it up. I was really glad to hear that Wolfe has released a sequel, entitled The Wizard.

Like The Book of the New Sun, The Knight is entirely told in first person from the viewpoint of the main character, Sir Able. It is written in the form of a letter to Able's older brother back in America, Ben. In some points, the story is purposefully vague, at others, Able goes into a lot of details that the reader might not really consider important until much later in the book. It's written from the perspective of a teenager, and so there are purposeful gaffes and lapses into some American jargon. For example, a vicious, morphing dog who says "Wow!" is just a bit strange.

What is especially interesting about the story is the fact that Sir Able, though he is physically matured by the Aelf princess Disiri, he remains a youth mentally. Therefore, he has to learn how to control the sudden strength of his body and his social position as a knight.

Another interesting point is that a lot of fantastic things happen to Able. He visits multiple layers of this universe, he is worshipped as a god, he has an ogre, a talking cat and dog, and two Fire Aelfs as his servants. However, he can never talk about all of the strange things that happen to him to other humans because he believes that no one will accept his stories as truth. A belief that I felt Wolfe is trying to stress is the common perception that we are unable to truly relate our experiences to other people because they won't believe us.

It was also to see how much Nordic and Viking mythology influenced the story. In one part, Able sees the King of Skai riding on his eight-legged horse, which is a direct reference to Odin and Sleipnir.

A popular phrase from the seminal science fiction classic Dune is "wheels within wheels." This could easily the way that Gene Wolfe writes. Check him out, you won't regret it.

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