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The Knight: Book One of The Wizard Knight Hardcover – January 3, 2004

128 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Wizard Knight Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nebula and World Fantasy awards-winner Wolfe's new novel-the first half of a massive epic-is a reminder that no one gets called a great writer without being first of all a great storyteller. This wonderful story is narrated by a teenage boy who wanders into a universe of interlocking magical realms. Transformed into a powerful man by an elf queen, he first calls himself a knight, Sir Able of the High Heart, then begins growing into that role. Wolfe doesn't just rearrange the cliches of sword and sorcery fiction; he recreates the genre. Sorcerous knowledge is important to Sir Able's survival, but muscle and steel count for a lot too, while sympathetic curiosity and self-awareness may be even more crucial. Though beautifully told, the novel is not exactly Wolfe Lite; much of the plot underlying the action remains obscure. Able realizes that there's a lot he doesn't comprehend, some of it because knowledge was stolen from him. He must gain (or regain) understanding of the worlds around him and of himself. In this respect, Wolfe's tale somewhat resembles the quest in David Lindsay's visionary masterpiece, A Voyage to Arcturus. Whatever its literary antecedents or its ultimate destination, however, this is a compelling, breathtaking achievement.
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From Bookmarks Magazine

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.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Series: The Wizard Knight (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (January 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765309890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765309891
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,903 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Anthony on December 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a fantasy fan, but one of my complaints about the genre is that what you find usually borders on two extremes. Either a novel is utterly derivative and full of cliche, shoddy writing, and the exact same plot filled with different names, or it is so high minded and literary that it is barely understandable. You either get "cheap thrills" (Robert Jordan) or art house fantasy (China Mieville). You rarely get the novel that is well written and truly enjoyable. But when you do get it (a la George RR Martin,) You get something special.

The Knight is that something special. With The Knight Gene Wolfe has finally taken all his talent, skill, and potential, and he has given us an accesible novel that is brilliantly done. The whole key to this hinges on the protagonist. Able is a young teenage boy who finds himself with the body of a true warrior. Able is a likeable hero with all the flaws of a teenage boy, yet at the same time he is basically a good kid. The story of Able's quest to be a Knight is well written, endearing, and filled with timeless value. It trancends being a story about Able and becomes a story about honor.

You have a strong main character. There are strong side characters. The pacing of the plot is brisk and moves at a nice clip. There are moments of humor and moments of horror. But throught it all Able's determintation to be a noble knight stands as the center of a great story.

There are some quibbles. You end the book still not really knowing why any of this has happened. There are far too many questions left unanswered. But this is classic Wolfe and this is what second volumes are for.

All in all a tremendous novel. If you are a fan of fantasy you need to read this book. Wolfe proves that talent makes the tale and sometimes the old stories are the ones worth reading (and writing.) Outstanding.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jacob G Corbin on April 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This may seem hardly surprising, given my well-documented worship of Wolfe's oeuvre, but the truth is that my expectations had been lower than usual this time around because I honestly wasn't sure about the choice of subject matter. Consider: the book follows a young teenage boy from present-day America who wanders into the woods and emerges in a strange mystical otherworld, and after being enchanted by a fairy queen is transformed into a adult man of Schwarzenegger-like proportions. Upon reading the synopsis, I wondered if THE KNIGHT would be the book that heralded the decline of Wolfe's powers. But that was silly of me, and I should have had more faith, because I can now say with almost perfect certainty that THE KNIGHT is not going to be at all what you'd expect.
The book reuses a lot of Wolfe's favorite tropes, especially the trick of the unreliable narrator and the picaresque narrative structure. In THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, Severian had perfect memory but lied to the reader to make himself sound better. In SOLDIER OF THE MIST, Latro tried to be honest with the reader but was cursed by Hera to forget everything that happened more than twelve hours previous. Here in THE KNIGHT, the narrator, who assumes the knightly name Sir Able of the High Heart long before he's earned a claim to the title, is unreliable because he has the mind of a pubescent boy and doesn't always know what's going on around him.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Owen C. Marshall on January 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the third book by Gene Wolfe that I have read. The first two were Soldier of the Mists and Soldier of Arete. I am a fan of medieval literature so I picked up the Knight to abate my curiosity of whether Gene Wolfe would do for it what he did for Greek histories in the aforementioned books.
If you are already a fan of Gene Wolfe, you do not need me to sing its praises. If on the other hand, you are new to him, then you are probably doing the same thing I do, skim through the reviews to see whether this book will be interesting to you.
I did enjoy this book but I feel that a second reading will be beneficial. This is not a quick and easy read. The narrator of The Knight does not always write things in an easy to understand fashion. He skips around. He often neglects to mention key points until after they have occured. Characters appear and disappear without warning. For example, near the end of the book, we discover that Sir Able's servant, Pouk, is travelling with a woman. It is only much later that we discover that the woman is a girl mentioned in the first third of the book. Furthermore, Able mentions it casually in passing as if he has known it for some time but has simply neglected to tell us.
Also, Able does not always behave heroically. Yes, he is honest and honorable, however, when he first is transformed into a man, I found it difficult to see him as more than a bully. Able's treatment of the young Touk is less than stellar.
All of that being said though, I find myself wondering whether these were conscious choices on the part of Gene Wolfe. The world of Mythgarthr is fascinating and its roots in Norse Mythology are obvious despite the scattered accounts from Able.
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