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The Knight (Wizard Knight Series #1)

The Knight (Wizard Knight Series #1)

3.6 24
by Gene Wolfe

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
The Knight, the first installment in Gene Wolfe's epic Wizard Knight duology, is a storytelling tour de force narrated by a teenage boy who has been mysteriously transported from modern-day America to a magical realm of interconnected worlds inhabited by elves, giants, and dragons.

After meeting a beautiful elf queen named Disiri and being transformed into a powerful knight, Sir Able of the High Heart (that's the name an old crone gave him) sets out -- armed only with his honor, intelligence, and newfound strength -- on a quest to find a mythical sword guarded by a ferocious dragon.

In a reality saturated with enchantment, the heroic Able is still just a frightened boy inside, struggling to understand the strange world around him. As he learns more about the machinations of the magical realms, he begins to grow into the role of a heroic knight. His code of honor leads him into many adventures -- wrestling an ogre, storming a giant fortress, climbing into the Mountain of Fire to save a friend, etc. -- but his ultimate quest to find the mythical sword and defeat the dragon is never forgotten. Reminiscent of Alan Dean Foster's Journeys of the Catechist saga as well as classics like Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Wolfe's newest is fantastical fiction at its very best. The Knight is an absolute masterpiece of imagination -- a compelling read for fantasy fans of all ages. Paul Goat Allen

Neil Gaiman has called Gene Wolfe "the smartest, subtlest, most dangerous writer alive, in genre or out of it." Nothing proves that claim better than The Knight, the first volume of Wolfe's two-volume Wizard Knight saga. In this novel, a teenage boy is transported to a magical realm where he is given the adult body of a heroic knight. Thrust suddenly into situations of daring and adventure, Abel must cope with both dangers and his strangely double nature.
Publishers Weekly
Nebula and World Fantasy awards-winner Wolfe's new novel-the first half of a massive epic-is a reminder that no one gets called a great writer without being first of all a great storyteller. This wonderful story is narrated by a teenage boy who wanders into a universe of interlocking magical realms. Transformed into a powerful man by an elf queen, he first calls himself a knight, Sir Able of the High Heart, then begins growing into that role. Wolfe doesn't just rearrange the clich s of sword and sorcery fiction; he recreates the genre. Sorcerous knowledge is important to Sir Able's survival, but muscle and steel count for a lot too, while sympathetic curiosity and self-awareness may be even more crucial. Though beautifully told, the novel is not exactly Wolfe Lite; much of the plot underlying the action remains obscure. Able realizes that there's a lot he doesn't comprehend, some of it because knowledge was stolen from him. He must gain (or regain) understanding of the worlds around him and of himself. In this respect, Wolfe's tale somewhat resembles the quest in David Lindsay's visionary masterpiece, A Voyage to Arcturus. Whatever its literary antecedents or its ultimate destination, however, this is a compelling, breathtaking achievement. (Jan. 6) Forecast: Wolfe is known as a literary and arcane writer, but with a 50,000 first printing, Tor is making a serious effort to relaunch him as a popular author. Blurbs from a raft of big names-Brian Herbert, Tad Williams, Peter Straub and Robin Hobb, among them-drill home the point that this novel is one for both elitists and the masses. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Blending Arthurian legend and Celtic lore, Wolfe twists elements of the two into a refreshing fantasy. Detailing the life of a young boy who is transported from the modern world to one of medieval design, the novel opens as the main character writes to his brother Ben, explaining how (when he was a teenager) he was kidnapped by Aelfs while wandering in the woods near Ben's cabin. He details waking up in a different world, alone in a cave. The only other person he sees is an elderly woman spinning thread who gives him a new name, Able of the High Heart. With few remaining memories of his life in the modern world, the newly named Able leaves the cave in an attempt to find his true home. He then meets Bold Berthold, who claims that Able is his brother and welcomes the teen with open arms. While living with Bold, Able assists a knight in his travels and decides that he wants to become a knight as well. In performing squirely duties for Sir Ravd, Able inadvertently falls victim to the charms of Disiri, the Moss Aelf Queen, and in a night, Able is physically transformed from a teenage boy to a hulking, physically strong adult. To become a worthy knight, Disiri tells Able that he must wrest the noble sword Eterne from a dragon and thus, he begins his true quest while adapting to his new body and his new world. This novel is the first of a two-part saga that continues with The Wizard. Although it is lengthy, the chapters, like short vignettes, and the first-person narration move the story along briskly as Able faces new adventures and establishes his identity. Wolfe's imaginative world, which consists of seven different planes of existence, is an intriguing place, and readers will relishAble's adventures. Able also provides a glossary of characters, places, and unfamiliar terms for his brother, Ben, at the beginning of the novel that serves as a handy point of reference for readers. Highly recommended for fans of epic fantasy and especially for those readers who enjoy brave knight tales and the world of the Faerie. (Book One of The Wizard Knight.). KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Tor, 527p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Ginger Armstrong
Library Journal
A young boy crosses from the modern into the fantasy world of Mythgarthr, where he finds himself in the body of an adult and receives the name "Able of the High Heart." As he quests for the sword that will make him a knight, he encounters both monstrous and human enemies, discovers romance, and learns about love and honor. Author of the classic "Book of the New Sun" series and one of sf's most elegant stylists and literary philosophers, Wolfe begins a new two-volume saga that uses the trappings of mythic fantasy to explore the human dilemma. Here he presents an artless and perceptive hero whose adventures are rites of passage. Highly recommended. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

The Knight is astonishing: deep, involving, humane, and absolutely original. This is the start of something big.” —Michael Swanwick

“Great fiction flows from Gene Wolfe as from a fountain under high pressure. The Knight is his latest superb novel, non-stop action of a surreal majesty. By the time he's done, knights and wizards will never seem the same.” —Kim Stanley Robinson

“A grand adventure that combines classic elements with a fresh, highly imaginative approach. I can't wait to read the next book.” —Brian Herbert

“Sir Able of the High Heart is unlike any other hero, part Candide and part Conan the Barbarian, and the worlds in which he travels are also appropriately unique. Most writers of the fantastic do their best to create magical lands. Gene Wolfe actually knows how to cross over and -- luckily for us -- invites us to come along with him. Wolfe's version of Faerie is both allusive and elusive, beautiful and fatally glamorous.” —Tad Williams

“An absorbing meditation on honor and manhood that's not only Wolfe at his literate best, but romantic, charming, and exciting to boot.” —Delia Sherman

“It took me about a page and a quarter to completely enter the world Wolfe creates in The Knight. Having arrived, I believe I'll spend the rest of my life here.” —Steven Brust

“[Gene Wolfe] was producing fiction of immense, Nabokovian rigor and complexity thirty years ago. The Knight proves he still is.” —Peter Straub

“Gene Wolfe is the smartest, subtlest, most dangerous writer alive today, in genre or out of it. If you don't read this book you'll have missed out on something important and wonderful and all the cool people will laugh at you.” —Neil Gaiman

“Gene Wolfe's The Knight. . . breaks like a thunderclap over the safe suburban sprawl of hfranchise fantasy. This is the real thing, boys and girls. Are you ready? It will scare the daylights out of you, take your breath away, make you laugh aloud and give you honest-to-goodness tears. You will devour it and discover just how hungry you have been.” —Patrick O'Leary, author of The Impossible Bird

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Wizard Knight Series , #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.23(w) x 6.83(h) x 1.10(d)

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.

Meet the Author

Gene Wolfe has been called "the finest writer the science fiction world has yet produced" by The Washington Post. A former engineer, he has become one of the most widely praised masters of SF and fantasy. He is the winner of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Nebula Award, twice, the World Fantasy Award, twice, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the British Fantasy Award, and France's Prix Apollo. His popular successes include the four-volume classic The Book of the New Sun. He and his wife, Rosemary, make their home in Barrington, IL.

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The Knight (Wizard Knight Series #1) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 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
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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Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly a classic and intriguing tale that will capture your interests and have you racing to the store to find the second half of The Wizard Knight collection!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first in a two book series; in some ways the last. The only time I've ever re-read the first book after finishing the second. And finding that the story only got better the second time through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very entertaining and engaging novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wolfe, as usual, exceeds the boundaries of the fantasy genre while using all of the cliches of the genre itself. Only in his hands can knights, giants, talking cats, and elves take on new and interesting depths. Simply put, you will be unable to enjoy any cookie cutter fantasy novels after allowing yourself to slip into Wolfe's Mythgartr.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first the writing in first person took a bit to get used to. However, Wolfe has the ability to captivate you in ways most authors will never know. An extrodinary tale that will keep you thirsting for more.