Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Latro in the Mist Paperback – March 19, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
In his foreword to Latro in the Mist, which pairs Gene Wolfe's acclaimed historical fantasies Soldier of the Mist (1986) and Soldier of Arete (1989), Wolfe reveals that the two novels are in fact his translations of the diary writings of Latro, a Roman mercenary wounded in battle in ancient Greece. Latro's head wound ruined his short-term memory, but bestowed upon him the gift of conversing with gods and goddesses.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“SF's greatest novelist, and overall one of America's finest. . . a wonder, yes, a genius.” ―The Washington Post Book World
Top Customer Reviews
I've been a fan of Wolfe's since the fateful summer of 2000, when I first cracked open a copy of his magnum opus, THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, and through the course of sixteen wildly different novels and innumerable short stories he has only rarely disappointed me. That said, the Latro books have immediately jumped, if not to the head of the pack, right to the top two or three.
The main character, Latro, is a mercenary formerly in the employ of the Persian emperor Xerxes during his ill-fated invasion of Greece in 479 BCE. Struck on the head outside the goddess Demeter's temple, Latro loses his short-term memory; like the main character in "Memento", even his recent past is a mystery to him, although Latro's window of memory is twelve hours long rather than five minutes. Captured by the Greeks, he becomes a slave, passed from one master to another and one quest to another in a series of picaresque adventures ranging from the comic to the heroic to the almost unutterably grim. The word "Latro" means both "soldier" and "pawn", and Latro, despite his native cunning and skill at arms, is a pawn indeed, used by gods, men, and monsters to further their own aims; his only saving graces are his innate stoic nobility and the diverse collection of friends he accumulates along the way.
Wolfe deploys his usual stunning array of literary devices and tricks, from the de rigueur unreliable first person narrative to the more subtle possibilities allowed by Latro's illness. Several characters disappear, only to reappear in later chapters with new names and, occasionally, new faces - strangers to Latro, but not to the eagle-eyed reader, who can use the clues scattered throughout the text to discern the wheels within wheels that Wolfe has arrayed to power the plot. The prose is, of course, peerless in its elegance, diction, and intelligence; we know that Wolfe, like a silver-tongued magician, is misdirecting us, but his patter is so charming that we don't care.
A few words about the setting: despite the fantastic elements that Wolfe uses in the book, LATRO IN THE MIST is a solid and powerful piece of historical fiction, and accomplishes what only the best books in that genre can aspire to: it puts us in the mindset of people who lived in that era, lets us see how they probably acted and reacted and thought and lived. We see that Latro's memory loss is merely a reflection or literalization of the times he lives in, where slow communication and inadequate recordkeeping could distort events of even recent history into myth, legend, and hearsay; and we see that the gods and supernatural beings that Latro contends with are also reflections of the times, when people saw divine agency in almost every occurence of their daily lives. Wolfe's depiction of the Greeks feels right, painting them neither as noble towers of intellect nor as superstitious cavemen, and his frank depiction of the ancient world's brutality makes us appreciate their greatest achievements (which, in the book, are still a few decades in coming) all the more.
Wolfe's imagination is so rich, and his narrative skills so great that you wonder whether these books can actually be memoirs as they are presented. If you marveled at the "Book of the New Sun", you will enjoy Wolfe effort at switching gears so completely. Latro's terse commentary may also be a welcome change from Severian's verbosity, but there are no creatures as wonderful as Dorcas here. Whether the "Soldier" books end-up as more than just an exercise to Exorcize "Book of the New Sun" really depends; Wolfe owes us two more books before we can make a full comparison.
Hero of the novels, soldier Latro, retreats with the defeated Persian army through Greece in 479 B.C. and tries to remember his past and to understand his own life. The worst mistake of all novels about the history - to place modern character in the historic environment and to describe his (or her) adventres as in cinema (a kind of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra). There`s no such a mistake. Wofe tries to re-create heroic and religious aspects of the ancient culture of the Mediterranean world.
Novel "Soldier of the Mist" is among the best novels of the Ancient Greece. It is written as poem in prose, with its own rhythm of narration. Probably Wolfe was impressed also by European Symbolist artists (Klimt etc.) and by their vision of the Antiquity.
By the way, I read this novel before "The Book of the New Sun" and "Soldier of the Mist" impressed me much more than Wolfe`s well-known novels (well, I`m a historian).
"Soldier of Arete" is a kind of "The Urth of the New Sun" here. There`s no solutions and answers to all questions and sometimes it`s hard to understand the plot and the author. And after the first novel you should wait for more... But, sorry... Let`s say: "Thank you!!!" for "The Soldier of the Mist". In 2006 was released the next novel - "Soldier of Sidon" - let`s hope - it would be better.
And you could belive me - though "Soldier of the Mist" is a kind of easy reading book - you could understand it only if you had read "History" by Herodotos.
Don`t be scared. It`s also very interesting book. As one Russian historian once said, Herodotos was not only the first historian-scientist, but also the first historical novel-writer and the first ethnologist (Herodotos described the ancestors of many modern nationalties - even the ancestors of the Slavs; he travelled on the territory of modern Ukraine).
P.S. Epigraph to "Soldier of the Mist" is taken from "History" by Herodotos, book 9, 62-65. If you would read it you would understand, why Latro lost his memory.
While you are reading these novels by Gene Wolfe - why not to listen to authentic music of Ancient Greece?
Try following CDs: Ensemble De Organographia "Music of the Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians and Greeks" and "Music of the Ancient Greeks" - authentic ancient music; modern music in Ancient Greek style played on reconstructed ancient instruments - "Melpomen: Ancient Greek Music" by Conrad Steinmann.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Latro, a Roman mercenary fighting in the Persian Wars, receives a head wound and loses the ability to make memories; every 16 hours, the past simply fades into the...Read more