Skip to main content

View Diary: Books Go Boom!   Making Magic Real (175 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  hmmm (7+ / 0-)

    As I mentioned in cfk's diary, I am rereading Gene Wolfe's The Wizard Knight, and now I'm thinking about how it relates to this diary.

    See, the conceit is, the main character (called Able of the High Heart) wandered from the cabin in the woods somewhere in the Midwest of the U.S. ... and into faery.

    Now, lots of contemporary fantasy novels have this structure, to bring the modern world in contact with the fantastical.

    What Wolfe does is a bit different. The kid ends up in Midgard (Wolfe has a different name, but Midgard it is), and he's interacting with a Nordic mythos...but the book itself is his very long letter back to the brother he left behind in the Midwest.

    The other thing that distinguishes The Wizard Knight from contemporary fantasy is that Wolfe writes so much better than almost anyone else mining similar material. It's dreamlike in a way, and (for me) wholly convincing.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 10:46:44 PM PDT

    •  P.S. forgot to mention (7+ / 0-)

      the work is called The Wizard Knight. But it was published in two volumes, The Knight first, then The Wizard. Neither book is particularly short, so it would have been a real bug-crusher if published in one volume.

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 10:49:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Those were the first two Gene Wolfes I read. (6+ / 0-)

      The only others were the four in Book of the New Sun, which were interesting but sometimes disconcerting.

      I really enjoyed The Wizard Knight. I thought it was a very colorful story. I like the Norse and faerie elements, and the system of worlds. And it showed me what a clever writer Wolfe was: he starts from the teenage viewpoint, and the whole cosmos gets deeper and more subtle as the boy becomes a man. I don't think Wolfe draws much attention to this gradual transformation of voice, he just does it perfectly.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:38:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So you haven't read the Latro novels? (6+ / 0-)

        There were to be four, but the first two didn't sell (at least, not compared to The Book of the New Sun), so nos. 3 and 4 never were written, afaik.

        They're definitely not for everyone. I thought they were f'n brilliant but...it helps to know something about Greek mythology, not to mention Athens at war. For example, Sparta is called Rope (I think I got that right anyway).

        Latro speaks Latin and Greek and possibly Persian. He is definitely from Italy/Roma, and he's in the Persian army (if memory serves: it's been a while) but angers a goddess and gets a head wound that means his long-term memory is shot. (This is a real brain injury, btw.) So every day he has to write down what happened or he can't remember: he has to read his scroll.

        Which of course means that when he's separated from his scroll or otherwise can't see it, his best friends are new strangers to him.

        But the cool part is, he's a hero in the classic sense once he gets that head wound, b/c he can see the gods, even though nobody else around him can. And he can converse with them. And maybe, if he can make it up with that goddess, he can have his memory restored.

        You see why I am sorry only half the story made it into print (afaik, anyway).

        I don't know whether the writing in the Latro novels is as good as The Wizard Knight only b/c Latro came next after the New Sun & Wolfe had twenty years or more subsequently to hone his craft.

        But Latro blew me away at the time.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Sat Oct 05, 2013 at 12:13:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  One critic who reads everything (6+ / 0-)

      (Michael Dirda) is helpful in leading the literary readers to genre writers who write particularly well.  He singles out Gene Wolfe for fantasy and Raymond Chandler for mystery.

      •  I avoided mysteries for decades, as I thought that (6+ / 0-)

        the genre was a huge homogenous mass of similar formulae. When I started reading 100 Best lists, they led me to some gems by a few of the top names in the field.

        The only mystery authors I've fallen hard for, so far, are P. D. James, for all the psychology in her characters; and Raymond Chandler, for that startling fresh and crunchy language.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Sat Oct 05, 2013 at 02:17:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site