cover image THE WIZARD: Book Two of the Wizard Knight

THE WIZARD: Book Two of the Wizard Knight

Gene Wolfe, . . Tor, $25.95 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1201-3

The teenage boy who wandered into another set of realities in Wolfe's The Knight has attained his ambition of knighthood. Now, as Sir Able of the High Heart, he returns in this sequel riding a steed that's not a horse, wielding his magic sword and bound by oath not to use his new otherworldly powers. Such a summary is like saying a spoonful of tap water constitutes the whole of all oceans. Wolfe's words wash over the reader with transparent grace and charming playfulness as he spins his profoundly imaginative, metaphysically complex, yet ever-entertaining tale with astonishing naturalness. In trademark Wolfian fashion, the memory-altered protagonist acts as narrator, telling the truth whenever possible and to the full extent of his own understanding. This second volume satisfactorily supplies many answers to the riddles and allusions of its tantalizing predecessor, but posits new mysteries as well. The novel stands alone and might even be best if read before The Knight , but will surely drive readers to the first as well. The conclusion hints at possible further adventures. Outstanding fantasy these days is often convincingly and compellingly anti-Tolkien, but Wolfe proves one can tell an epic, myth-based story of honor, loyalty, courage and faith relevant to our own dark times. This is fantasy at its best: revelatory and inspirational. Agent, the Virginia Kidd Agency. (Nov. 10)

Forecast: Wolfe has won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, among many other major awards. Expect this two-book saga ( The Knight was published earlier this year) to win him a few more. This is far more accessible than his earlier multivolume masterpiece, The Book of the New Sun (1980–1983).