REVIEW SUMMARY: Gene Wolfe continues the fantasy saga he began with The Knight and delivers more of the same.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Sir Able, now a man, continues to fight on the behalf of his adopted kingdom finding himself at odds with very unfantasy-like barbarians, dragons, and gods.
PROS: Unique, rich, fantasy setting. Fantastic language, solid engaging plot. Ending extremely well done.
CONS: Novel is a bit disjoint at the beginning as the narrative moves to third-person.
BOTTOM LINE: If you enjoyed The Knight you’ll find The Wizard well worth your reading time.
IN DEPTH: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although I didn’t find it to be quite as well done as the first on the series. All told though, you could certainly do a lot worse than read this book.
The beginning is a little odd as the narrative moves from first person to accounts of a third party being retold by the first person. This is a bit hard to follow and seems a bit awkward. Knowing how good Wolfe is with the language in general, I tend to fault myself here more than him, but none the less it did distract me from enjoying the work as well as I hoped. Since I read these sections on a plane immediately after finishing the The Knight I can’t claim it had to do with reading environment except perhaps I had gotten tired.
Throughout the series Wolfe explores Sir Able’s sense of honor. This must have been fun to write – looking at every situation purely from the perspective of an individual who views himself as a man of honor and tries to exemplify it. I found myself often extremely interested in what he would say, no only to advance the story, but also to see how the character would react to ethically challenging situations.
In any event, the story otherwise is handled very well and I can’t say enough at how satisfying the ending was for me. I can’t give even a hint of it away, but suffice to say that the story ended exactly when it should have.