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Soldier of the Mist Paperback – October, 1987

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Editorial Reviews

From AudioFile

A science fiction/ fantasy master presents the story of Latro, an ancient Greek soldier, who has suffered a head wound. Because he cannot remember from day to day, Latro describes events in a scroll. His senses, intensified by his injury, enable him to see many things, including gods circulating among mortals. Verna delivers a full-voiced narration with subtle vocal characterizations. His voice is a gentle baritone, slightly higher for a young girl, slowed into oiliness for the snake god. Like most modern fantasies, this includes scenes of violence: child sacrifice, castration, others. A masterful work for a wide audience. D.W. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (October 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812558154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812558159
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gene Wolfe is winner of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and many other awards. In 2007, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He lives in Barrington, Illinois.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on July 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is set in Ancient Greece, during the Persian Wars. The protagonist, Latro, is a soldier who has recieved a head wound and forgets very quickly. Therefore, he keeps a journal to tell himself who he is and what has happened to him--and that journal is this book. When I first heard about this, I was skeptical that a coherent novel could be written this way, but Wolfe makes it work without stretching believability too much.
Wolfe describes the setting effectively. In order to prevent the reader from using prior knowledge of Greek history or mythology to unfair advantage, he usually replaces the Greek proper names with the protagonist's translations (sometimes incorrect!), which are then rendered into English. This makes the reader nearly as disoriented as the characters, making the book more interesting. Some readers may be annoyed that Wolfe never stops to explain anything, but I think it's better this way, since it avoids the contrived plot devices and character behavior that are often necessary for more explicit exposition. Wolfe's characters are realistic enough, and it's interesting to watch Latro's development as a character and the ways he deals with his affliction.
Of course, I do have some complaints. The first few chapters were boring, and sometimes the plot seemed to drift, as if the author, as well as Latro, had forgotten what he was doing. This aside, Soldier of the Mist could make a good introduction to Wolfe for those who find the New Sun series intimidating. I rarely had much trouble with that longer (and better) work, but some do, and they may be glad that the worldbuilding, allusions, and descriptive language have been toned down. If you have already read and liked Wolfe, then read this. It won't change your life, but it is a solid and rewarding novel.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jon G. Jackson on June 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
From the start, Gene Wolfe has consistently maintained his image as a classically educated writer, with a hugely gifted imagination, and an ability to use language which is far beyond what most writers today (or yesterday, for that matter) will ever aspire to. He's a brilliant short story writer *and* a fully developed novelist. The fact that he just *happens* to be writing what is probably best called "science fantasy" is a secondary issue. With "The Book Of The New Sun" series, he carved out a lasting legacy for more than a few generations of readers yet to come.
We're doubly fortunate, though, that he hasn't limited himself to *only* the many books in the various "Sun" collections he's most famous for. While it's hard to say I could like *anything* better than THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER---SOLDIER OF THE MIST is easily one of my *favorite* Wolfe novels. The setting is Greece in 479 B.C. Soldier Latro has a head injury. Because of this, his memory can only last about 12 hours. So, he writes on a scroll what happens to him each day, and then reads what he's written first thing every morning. A simple premise. But---oh, my! The story that unfolds is one of Wolfe's most unusual and intriguing books. Other reviewers have explained some of the events that Latro experiences. However, there's another aspect of this novel that I find most interesting of all. Because of his memory problem, Latro is very much trapped in "the eternal now." Yet, as the reader, remembering all that has occured from page one, you gradually become aware of a variety of changes in his environment, of which Latro is totally unaware. Wolfe handles this like the Master that he is. It's an example of what I like to call *true* fantasy (as opposed to how most people use that term).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on March 24, 2004
Format: Audio Cassette
Someone said elsewhere that this felt like an exercise for Wolfe, and I know what they mean-- using a Memento-like plot (a main character who loses his memory at the end of every day) Wolfe sketches the world of ancient Greece through the eyes of a soldier named Latro.

The details are compelling-- I was uninterested in the real historical value (people should not be trying to derive history lessons from fantasy novels) but Wolfe does a good job, as usual, of creating a realistic and detailed world for Latro to inhabit.

The plot is somewhat less compelling. It is nearly a necessity of the trope that he chose that the plot becomes confusing (particularly in times when Latro couldn't write his journal) and I'm sad to say that I often didn't feel any kind of guiding line that was coherent enough to motivate me through the confusion.

Interesting for Wolfe completists or real fans of historical fiction, not a place to begin with his work otherwise.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 1996
Format: Paperback
With `Soldier of the Mist' Gene Wolfe attempts to tell a story that would stop any other author in their tracks. `Soldier of the Mist' is the diary of Latro, a soldier of ancient Rome (maybe) who suffered a head wound on the battlefield. Every day when Latro awakens, he has a new case of amnesia. Not only does he not know who he is, but whatever he learns lasts only one day. He has found travelling companions in his search for his identity, and every morning they have him read his diary to learn who he is. Every night he makes new entries, hoping they will be useful in the coming day. The next morning he will face the world as new, knowing only what he's written and what he sees in front of him.

Latro wanders ancient Greece dealing with war, politics, gods and goddesses. His lack of knowledge and prejudices let him (and you) see the world of the ancients in an entirely new light.
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