The Knight (Wizard Knight Series #1)

The Knight (Wizard Knight Series #1)

by Gene Wolfe

Paperback(First Edition)

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A young man in his teens is transported from our world to a magical realm that contains seven levels of reality. Very quickly transformed by magic into a grown man of heroic proportions, he takes the name Able and sets out on a quest to find the sword that has been promised to him, a sword he will get from a dragon, the one very special blade that will help him fulfill his life ambition to become a knight and a true hero.

Inside, however, Able remains a boy, and he must grow in every sense to survive the dangers and delights that lie ahead in encounters with giants, elves, wizards, and dragons. His adventure will conclude in the second volume of The Wizard Knight, The Wizard.

With this new series, Wolfe not only surpasses all the most popular genre writers of the last three decades, he takes on the legends of the past century, in a work that will be favorably compared with the best of J. R. R. Tolkien, E. R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake, and T. H. White. This is a book—-and a series—-for the ages, from perhaps the greatest living writer in (or outside) the fantasy genre.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765313485
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 01/01/2005
Series: Wizard Knight Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 659,533
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Gene Wolfe (1931-2019) was the Nebula Award-winning author of The Book of the New Sun tetralogy in the Solar Cycle, as well as the World Fantasy Award winners The Shadow of the Torturer and Soldier of Sidon. He was also a prolific writer of distinguished short fiction, which has been collected in such award-winning volumes as Storeys from the Old Hotel and The Best of Gene Wolfe.

A recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award, and six Locus Awards, among many other honors, Wolfe was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007, and named Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2012.

Read an Excerpt

The Knight

Part I of The Wizard Knight, A Novel in Two Parts
By Wolfe, Gene

Tor Fantasy

Copyright © 2005 Wolfe, Gene
All right reserved.

You must have stopped wondering what happened to me a long time ago; I know it has been many years. I have the time to write here, and what looks like a good chance to get what I write to where you are, so I am going to try. If I just told everything on a couple of sheets, you would not believe most of it. Hardly any of it, because there are many things that I have trouble with myself. So what I am going to do instead is tell everything. When I have finished, you still may not believe me; but you will know all that I do. In some ways, that is a lot. In others, practically nothing. When I saw you sitting by our fire--my own brother--there on the battlefield...Never mind. I will get to it. Only I think it may be why I am writing now.
Remember the day we drove out to the cabin? Then Geri phoned. You had to go home and did not need a kid around. So we said there was no reason for me to go too, I could stay out there and you would come back the next day.
We said I would fish.
That was it.
Only I did not. It did not seem like it was going to be much fun with you gone, but the air was crisp and the leaves were turning, so I went on a hike. Maybe it was a mistake. I went a long way, but I was not lost. Pretty soon I picked up a stick and hiked with it, but it was crooked and not very strong. I did not like it much anddecided I would cut a good one I could keep out at the cabin and use whenever we were there.
I saw a tree that was different from all the others. It was not very big, and it had white bark and shiny leaves. It was a spiny orange tree, Ben, but I had never heard of them. Later Bold Berthold told me a lot. It was too big for me to cut the whole thing, but I found a branch that was almost straight. I cut off that and trimmed it and so forth. That may have been the main thing, my main mistake. They are not like other trees. The Mossmen care more about them.
I had gone off the path when I saw the spiny orange, and when I got to it I saw it was right at the edge of the woods, and past it were the downs. Some hills were pretty steep, but they were beautiful, smooth and covered with long grass. So I hiked out there with my new stick and climbed three or four hills. It was really nice. I found a little spring at the top of a hill. I had a drink, and sat down--I was pretty tired by then--and carved the stick some, making who-knows-what. Just whittling. After a while I lay down and looked at the clouds. Everybody has seen pictures in clouds, but I saw more that afternoon than I ever have before or since--an old man with a beard that the wind changed into a black dragon, a wonderful horse with a horn on its head, and a beautiful lady who smiled down at me.
After that, a flying castle, all spiky like a star because there were towers and turrets coming out of all its sides. I kept telling myself it had to be a cloud, but it did not look like a cloud, Ben. It looked like stone. I got up and chased after it, waiting for the wind to blow it apart, but it never did.
Night came. I could not see the castle any longer, and I knew I had to be a long way from our cabin. I started back across the downs, walking fast; but I got to walking down a slope that had no bottom. Somebody grabbed me in the dark, and somebody else caught my ankle when I slapped that hand away. Right then somebody said, "Who comes to Aelfrice!" I still remember that, and for a long, long time after that, that was all I could remember. That and being grabbed by a lot of people.
* * *
I woke up in a cave by the sea, where an old lady with too many teeth sat spinning; and when I had pulled myself together and found my stick, I asked where we were, trying to be as polite as I could. "Can you tell me what place this is, ma'am, and how to get to Griffinsford from here?" For some reason I thought Griffinsford was where we lived, Ben, and I still do not remember the real name. Maybe it really is Griffinsford. They are all mixed up.
The old lady shook her head.
"Do you know how I got here?"
She laughed, and the wind and the sea were in it; she was the spray, and the waves that broke outside her cave. When I talked to her, I was talking to them. That was how I felt. Does it sound crazy? I had been crazy since I was born, and now I was sane and it felt wonderful. The wind and the waves were sitting in that cave with me twisting thread, and nature was not something outside anymore. She was a big part of it, and I was a little part of it, and I had been gone too long. Later Garsecg said the sea had healed me.
I went to the mouth of the cave and waded out until the water came up to my waist; but the only things I could see were cliffs hanging over her cave, deep blue water farther out, gulls, and jagged black rocks like dragons' teeth. The old woman said, "You must wait for the slack of the tide."
I came back, sea-wet to my armpits. "Will it be long?"
"Long enough."
After that I just leaned on my stick and watched her spin, trying to figure out what it was that she was turning into string and why it made the noises it did. Sometimes it seemed like there were faces in it and arms and legs coming out of it.
"You are Able of the High Heart."
That got my attention, and I told her my old name.
Up to then, she had never looked away from her spinning. "What I say aright, do not you smite," she told me.
I said I was sorry.
"Some loss must be, so this I decree: the lower your lady the higher your love." She stopped spinning to smile at me. I knew she meant it to be friendly, but her teeth were terrible and looked as sharp as razors. She said, "There must be a forfeit for insolence, and since that's how it usually is, that one shouldn't do much harm."
That was how I got my name changed.
She went back to spinning, but it looked like she was reading her thread. "You shall sink before you rise, and rise before you sink."
It scared me, and I asked if I could ask her a question.
"It had best be, since you ask one. What do you want to know, Able of the High Heart?"
There was so much I could not get it out. I said, "Who are you?" instead.
"Are you a fortune-teller?"
She smiled again. "Some say so."
"How did I get here?"
She pointed with the distaff, the thing that held the stuff she was spinning, pointing toward the back of the cave, where it was all black.
"I don't remember being there," I told her.
"The recollection has been taken from you."
As soon as she said it, I knew it was right. I could remember certain things. I could remember you and the cabin and the clouds, but all that had been a long time ago, and after it there had been a lot I could not remember at all.
"The Aelf carried you to me."
"Who are the Aelf?" I felt I ought to know.
"Don't you know, Able of the High Heart?"
That was the last thing she said for a long while. I sat down to watch, but sometimes I looked at the back of the cave where she said I had come from. When I looked away from her, she got bigger and bigger, so I knew there was something huge behind me. When I turned and looked back at her again, she was not quite as big as I was.
That was one thing. The other one was that I knew that when I was little I had known all about the Aelf, and it was all mixed up with somebody else, a little girl who had played with me; and there had been big, big trees, and ferns a lot bigger than we were, and clear springs. And moss. Lots of moss. Soft, green moss like velvet.
"They have sent you with the tale of their wrongs," Parka said, "and their worship."
"Worship?" I was not sure what she meant.
"Of you."
That brought back other things-not things, really, but feelings. I said, "I don't like them," and it was the truth.
"Plant one seed," she told me.
For a long time, I waited for her to say something else, waiting because I did not want to ask her questions. She never did, so I said, "Aren't you going to tell me all those things? The wrongs and the rest of it?"
I let out my breath. I had been afraid of what I might hear. "That's good."
"It is. Some gain there must be, so this I decree: each time you gain your heart's desire, your heart shall reach for something higher."
I had the feeling then that if I asked more questions I was not going to like the answers. The sun stretched out his hands into our cave and blessed us both, or that was the way it seemed; then he sank into the sea, and the sea tried to follow him. Pretty soon the place where I had stood when I had waded out was hardly wet at all. "Is this the slack of the tide?" I asked Parka.
"Wait," she said, and bit her spinning through, wound a piece of it from her bobbin onto her hand, bit it off, and gave it to me, saying, "For your bow."
"I don't have a bow."
She pointed to my stick, Ben, and I saw it was trying to turn into a bow. There was a bend at the middle; except for that it was completely straight, and because I had whittled on the big end, both ends were smaller than the middle.
I thanked her and ran out onto what had turned into a rough beach under the cliff. When I waved good-bye, it seemed like the whole cave was full of white birds, flying and fluttering. She waved back; she looked very small then, like the flame of a candle.
South of the cave I found a steep path to the top of the cliffs. At the top there were ruined walls, and the stump of a tower. The stars were out by the time I got there, and it was cold. I hunted around for a sheltered spot and found one; after that, I climbed what was left of the tower.
The tower had stood on a rocky island connected to the mainland by a spit of sand and rocks so low it was nearly under the water even at low tide. I must have stared at the waves breaking over it in the starlight for five minutes before I felt sure it was there. It was, and I knew I ought to get off the island while I still could, and find a place to sleep on shore.
I knew it, but I did not do it. For one thing, I was tired already. Not hungry and not particularly thirsty, but so tired that all I really wanted was to lie down somewhere. The other was that I was afraid of what I might find on shore, and what might find me.
Besides, I needed to think. There was so much I could not remember, and what I could remember (you, Ben, and the cabin, and the house where we lived, and those pictures you have of Mom and Dad) was a long, long time ago. I wanted to try to remember more, and I wanted to think about what Parka had said and what it might mean.
So I went back to the sheltered place I had found among the blue stones and lay down. I was barefoot, and it seemed to me while I lay there that I should have had hiking boots, and stockings. I could not remember what had become of them. I was wearing a gray wool shirt without buttons and gray wool pants with no pockets, and that did not seem right either. I had a belt, and a little leather pouch hanging from it by its strings; but the only things in it were Parka's bowstring, three hard black seeds, and a little knife with a wooden handle and a wooden scabbard. The knife fit my hand like it belonged there, but I did not remember it at all.
Copyright Gene Wolfe


Excerpted from The Knight by Wolfe, Gene Copyright © 2005 by Wolfe, Gene. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Knight (Wizard Knight Series #1) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bought both books in this series at the same time because I read nice reviews on this site. I now believe someone was paid to write them. This has been a struggle to get through. I'm half way through the Wizard and it still hasn't delivered. The story is very choppy and hard to follow, there's even one character you can barely understand his poor speech. The story line has very little action or suspense. There is way to much meaningless conversation. These books could be half as long. I paid for the books so I will finish, but the frustration made me right this review.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the imagery was beautiful, I did not enjoy this book. Among other challenges, I found it frustrating trying to keep track of when the character was moving from one world to the next. Obviously, this type of book appeals to some, but it's not for everyone.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the United States, his brother Ben needed suddenly to leave, but there was no reason for the young teen to depart also; so he stayed behind to fish, but instead hiked a trail. He was not lost when he slightly went off the path to cut a staff.--- He steps into Mythgarthr where he meets the elf Queen of the Wood Disiri, who looks into his soul finding honor and loyalty. She magically changes the lad into an adult knight dubbed Able of the High Heart and provides him with a quest to obtain the mythical sword possessed guarded by a ferocious dragon. If he is to achieve his heroic destiny. However, to sprinkle someone with power and skill and change them into something else does not impact what is inside. The American expatriate struggles with his new environment filled with magic and magical beings and his lack of his experience beyond those of a young teen, not a fighting knight. Though doubts ring his every step, he is still young at heart and so begins his adventures as a stranger in a strange body in a strange land where everybody is strange.--- This is a terrific tales because of the realistic transformation of the hero who wonders what he has gotten into while on the trek. The support cast insures readers believe in ogres, giants, elves, griffins, etc. Interestingly is how Sir Able cleverly narrates the novel via a letter to Ben; cleverly providing a glossary of terms and names. Fantasy great, Gene Wolf provides a superb coming of age with a twist story that will have the audience anticipating the conclusion to the Wizard Knight twosome.--- Harriet Klausner
lewispike on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sets up the idea and the first part, although it will work well as a stand alone too, if you can stand the foreshadowing without resolution.Cracking book once you get started, although I must admit it took a little while for me to get into it. But then I often find that, the way Wolfe uses words is amazing but takes a little adjustment for me.
johnnyapollo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I completed the second part of this book (The Wizard - part one is called The Knight) yesterday evening. As usual, Gene Wolfe knows how to tell a tale that's both entralling and entertaining. These books have an unusual blend of epic and folklore, with a bit of pseudo-science fantasy thrown in for good measure. If you've ever read Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series, you'll understand what I mean. Wolf has this talent of absorbing the reader completely into a tale - mixing storytelling with a stream-of-consciousness that you don't normally see in fantasy or science fiction. The tale weaves in-and-out imparting well thought out plot glimpses and emotions that can leave you reeling. The story itself is a relatively simple one - a boy from our realm transported to one of myth, in the form of a hero called Able of the High Heart - and Able's encounter with fame, the faerie, gods and kings. There's a strong mix of Arthurian folklore along with the various supernatural elements associated with Knightly tales thrown in. Able progresses from unknown, to squire, to knight and myth all within the two books.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK, I stayed with this one until the end, despite holes in the plot big enough to have one of the giants of the story walk right through. That said, I am looking forward to acquiring next installment of this saga, The Wizard.Others here have commented on the transformation of the main character, so there is no further need to flog that expired equine. Instead, I¿ll tell you what kept me going through this narrative. I enjoy a good story and Gene Wolfe delivers a tale with many classical attributes: magical creatures, mystical armament, heroes that do not know that they are heroes, damsels in distress, knights to the rescue and followers that follow because of the true nature of the ones they serve. One of my quibbles is Wolfe¿s treatment of dragons. Just a matter of personal taste, but I prefer my dragons less evil and only dangerous when need be, much the way Wolfe portrays the knights. The knights of this story only fight when they need to, but they do fight to win at any cost. I see dragons as equally noble, creatures to be respected, not feared.Taken individually, the pieces are below even being mediocre. Taken together, the parts reinforce each other and the story builds momentum. That may be a problem for some readers, as this story does not really end with this book. There is a huge fight scene and we are left with a literary cliffhanger. Unlike, say, the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind where each book may be read by itself, you will need to read The Wizard to see how this story ends.The physical layout of worlds, and yes, there are many mentioned in this book, that comprises the background for this adventure is complex. The relationship of the characters may also be confusing to some readers as is the way time passes in relation from one world to the other. If you don¿t mind these details have at it, The Knight is an enjoyable story. If you object to having to have the full series in order to have the story completely told, you may wish to bypass the first book until you also have the second.
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very good version of two fantasy standard themes - the person from our Earth who ends up in a magical realm, and a boy growing to be a knight. We don't know exactly why the boy ends up in this world, some sort of accidental crossing. After spending time as a boy he is enchanted into the form of a man very quickly, so this represents a real learning process for him. Since this book is written from the perspective of a boy trying to learn how to be a man and a knight both, at times it feels simplistic, but that is just the beauty of Wolfe's characterization. For example, how does he 'prove' he is a knight, with no family or experience, but the strength and skills (and magical aid) of a knight? Very good, though maybe by today's standards a little low on action and high on simple, interpersonal drama.
RRLevering on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gene Wolfe is an amazing writer, but you really need to understand that before you look at the cover and pick up this book as a hack-and-slash evening read. His writing style borders on poetry and thus his plots are often meandering and his writing style obscures important twists and facts in funny little phrases. Honestly, I don't always like reading his books, but I believe that he is the most talented writer in fantasy. He evokes emotion, he has realistic confusing characters (even in this novel where protagonists and antagonists are strongly archetypal and carry lots of mythical baggage), and his subjective point of views are untouchable. This particular novel is endearing to me because he took such a cliche storyline that I've read a hundred times before and made it awesome. Knights? Multiple planes of existence? Boy falls from our world into a fantasy world? The world and plot is completely derived and traditional. But he puts his prototypical hero character into this world, works the right interesting mix of side character interactions, and the story is actually really good. His hero characters are very similar from book to book, but they are always fun to read. True mythical heroes would never see what they do as heroic or else they never would think to act in that way. Wolfe understands this very well and paints his stories around this hero type with great mastery.
galacticus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gene is a great compelling writer. His style is difficult but rewarding. I enjoyed Gene's portrayal of the young knight learning his trade. The ending is fantastic.
BenjaminHahn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a great book! A faerie tale in the truest sense. But if you like your fantasy plot straight forward and spoonfed (Robert Jordan?), than you might have some trouble with Gene Wolfe's writing style. Wolfe writes in a unique and mysterious fashion that took hold of me after the first 10 pages. This story is so much more intriguing than the usual fantasy novel. Many layers make up this story, similar to the world that Able, the main character, finds himself in. Mysterious passages are inserted into the narrative in such a way that I found myself constantly skipping back to previous pages to try to grasp some wider theme. A theme that is there if you want it to be.The story is written as a letter to an older brother. A brother who seems to be in America somewhere. This is the only link to our reality in the book. The author of this letter is a young boy, Able. Able writes things from a very simple point of view, but occasionally he writes things that are so cryptic that it made me wonder what is really going on inside of Able's head. Whatever it is, the main themes of the book has to do with knighthood, but not really. Knighthood or Able's quest to become a knight, is a mechanism for Wolfe to write about certain qualities of the human experience. Love, sacrifice, death, honor, keeping one's word, but also a the path to enlightenment. Gaining knowledge is key element in this story. Wolfe employs the symbols of fantasy in such a simple way that Jung and Campbell come to mind. This brings me back to Able's mind and the first person narrative from which Wolfe writes. We are hearing Able's story but only through other's stories interpreted through Able. For me, its a fresh take on the fantasy novel, and I look forward to reading the sequel. I'm still sorting through some of the passages I marked in the book. Perhaps I will have to come back and change some of this once I finish "The Wizard".
biblioconnisseur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just picked this up at the library. It is Terrific!! Really great. Grabs you from the first page.
SnakeVargas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I delayed reading this book for a long time, despite the fact that Wolfe is one of my favorite authors, because the blurb on the back of the book makes the story sound so cheesey. Boy travels to magic land where he instantly become He-Man warrior-type. Sound like every bad fantasy novel for "young adults" you read when you were 12? Wolfe makes it work, makes it work beautifully. Combined with its sequal, The Wizard, this book rivals The Book of the New Sun as Wolfe's opus, in my opinion. A working knowledge of northern european folklore is a must to truly apreciate this book, as Wolfe casually references various folklores without bothering to expound. One of the things that i love about Wolfe (although others might find irritating) is the fact that he seldom, if ever, spells everything out for the reader. He treats his reader as an intelligent person who can pick up the storyline for themselves without being spoonfed the plot, and of course, draw their own conclusions as to what it means.
rdpriceman More than 1 year ago
This book was puzzling and distressing. I cannot recommend it to anyone. Wolfe is a fantastic writer, and while his prose and style are, as always, up to snuff, with this book it feels as if pieces were snipped out during the editing process, without any effort to bridge the gaps left by the snipping. The character is portrayed as being a child in the body of a grown man, but I never got that impression... the character is unpleasant and unlikable, with a bizarre sense of entitlement that could never be born out of the "boy-in-a-man's-body" premise. Wolfe begins with one idea, a boy wandering by unknown means into a medieval world, where he then begins to question whether he had come from another world at all. This should be existential, yet it only manages to be annoying. The holes in the plot also tend to annoy. You don't feel any pathos for the character... at one point I started wishing ACTUAL suffering on him, and not the artificial suffering her foists upon himself. Wolfe goes for a mythical feel, yet all I get from this story is contempt. Towards his audience, towards the genre. I have a feeling he put this together very fast, and that saddens me, because I usually adore his work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've never read anything by this author, other than this particular series.  I liked this series very much and recommend it strongly, but it is WEIRD,  It is not a typical fantasy book.  You'll have to puzzle this one out a bit.  
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