REVIEW SUMMARY: Excellent Wolfe book for the uninitiated, Latro is personal and adventurous in this third installment of the Soldier of… series.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Latro had little long-term memory. In fact, each night he forgot everything that happened the day before. As a result, he had to try to write down everything he experienced each day and read it back the next morning. Lucky for us, the tale of his travels in Egypt his explorations along the Nile is told in the scrolls he left behind.
PROS: Wolfe’s mastery of the language is on full display but without as many enigmatic plot points as in some of his works; characters are engaging and genuine; fantasy elements are muted – but enough to keep things interesting.
CONS: Book doesn’t resolve Latro’s problem.
BOTTOM LINE: Excellent tale of adventure in an Egypt filled with politics, mischievous gods, and conniving women.
This is the third book in a series Wolfe started an amzing 20 years ago. He wrote out Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete (now collected as ) in between New Sun books in the late 1980’s. But finally we have the third book in the series and it was certainly worth the wait.
I didn’t read the earlier books (although I now want to) so I can’t compare them. I can say that Sidon is a fantastic story told in Wolfe’s typical style. A narrator who forgets each prior day fits Wolfe’s approach well – and is a bit easier to take than the unreliable voices in the New Sun series. At least Latro is sincere and likable – more than can be said for Severian.
The tale involves Latro and his ship-captain friend exploring the upper reaches of the Nile for the current ruler in Egypt. The journey and the side characters on the ship left the book feeling a little like or and Latro’s condition had it feeling a little like a black comedy. The adventures that Latro has – involving the gods (which only he can see thanks to his ailment), opportunistic women, and even the local politics is engrossing and fun. Latro is a bit of a Superman at times but I enjoyed the butt-whippin’ he occasionally dished out. I was surprised more people didn’t try to take advantage of Latro (although I’ve since learned that was a common occurrence in the first two novels.)
This is a very accessible Wolfe book. It lacks the confusing and contradictory elements found in many other works (although this may disappoint those who love to pick over the Sun books.) If you were to get started with Wolfe and experience him for the first time, this would be a fine choice.