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Gene Wolfe – The Knight November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in fantasy.
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I think I jumped into this book with high expectations – Neil Gaiman professed it to be ‘important and wonderful’ after all, and I love Neil Gaiman.

I was drawn into the world that Wolfe created, a young boy taken from the modern day to another place, a place full of elves, ogres, knights, serpents, dragons, flying castles, levels of worlds, etc.

However, I found the style of his storytelling a bit difficult to get into. Wolfe writes as a brother writing of his adventures home to his older brother he left behind. I don’t like this style as it often gives authors the excuse to do a great big info dump on how the worlds work by saying “i just give you some background on this brother” or “I may as well explain this now”. Now, I’m not syaing that this isn’t a perfectly respected form in the craft, but as a reader I don’t like it. I find it lags, I want to get back to the story. The second half of the book had less of this and I enjoyed it much more. However, the end – I was want to bitch about this here so…

——-spolier warning————–

…I was really getting ito the story, the journey, things are finally falling into place when all of a sudden he drops everything and wanders off into the elf-world. Time goes faster for the middle world when you are in the elf world, so he knows hes on a time-critical mission and forks off onto a tangent that Wolfe only introduces halfway through! And then it ends! The annoyance, no resolution for me, the lead into the next book is awful. I wanted to know what was going to happen with the giants and the rescue thread not the Viking horsewomen of the sky!

I found the rest of the book quite similar, just I was getting into a story or path, some bizarre thing happens to the main character, he goes into another world and loses track, wanders around and leaves me more confused than ever.

I was interested in the similarity between the new world and earth, that kept my curiosity going.

I wonder whether this is a boys book, because I just couldn’t get into it. David, I would be interested in your take.

–David says–
This books has what I would call a ‘dreamlike’ quality to it. The main character drifts through the world, encountering people and situations seemingly at random. It fits for me since the main character is a boy in a man’s body, attempting to be a boy’s naive version of what a knight should uphold.
I found the world Wolfe had built an intriguing one, based on viking lore (I think). There is a second book called The Wizard which might make some things clearer.
Is this a boy’s book? That’s a fair call, since the book is certainly lacking for female characters defined by anything other than what they want the central character to do for them. The other male characters are acting under their own motivation, but never the women.

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