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THE WIZARD by Gene Wolfe


Vol. II, the Wizard Knight

by Gene Wolfe

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2004
ISBN: 0-765-31201-8
Publisher: Tor

The grand conclusion to a fantasy two-parter about a knight with the soul of a teenaged boy.

In The Knight (2003), Wolfe sent an American teenager into another world, a multitiered fantasy universe divided into seven different planes of existence. There, he became known as Sir Abel of the High Heart, a powerful knight with a sword, Eterne, that your average hero would kill for. Now, we find Abel having recently come back to the land of Mythgarthr. Although he’s aged some 20 years in the realm of Skye, the passing of time there doesn’t really seem to follow the standard rules, and, while he doesn’t seem very mature, he definitely isn’t a kid anymore. A seasoned warrior, Abel is in the midst of a struggle between the realm of King Arnthor against a race of Frost Giants intent on raiding south into the hotter lands to capture human slaves to work their fields. The Wizard’s first half allows Abel to tell about his struggles in this conflict, and he’s an engaging narrator, though given to the prolix. When Wolfe shifts the action away from Abel, though, and turns to the diplomatic efforts of his squires Svon and Toug (and Mani, the speaking cat: less gimmicky than it sounds) in their effort to stop the giant-human fighting, the action shifts into high gear and the comprehension factor (despite the upfront list of dramatis personae) begins ratcheting dramatically downward. Wolfe likes to spin spiderwebs of plot and counterplot inside his impressively constructed universes, and fortunately his innate sense of humor keeps matters from getting impossibly dense. Even as he trots out the fantasy tropes (elf-like beings, a battle with a dragon, jousting matches, honorable peasants, arrogant royalty), he both undercuts expectations and fulfills them in each and every page.

Mordant, thrilling, all tangled up in heavy knots of double-crossing and magic.