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The Wizard by Gene Wolfe
Review by Bruce Wallace
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0765312018
Date: 01 November, 2004 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In The Knight, Gene Wolfe gave us the first volume of a two book saga which tells the tale of a young man of this world who is transported to a world in which honor, magic and heroic feats are the order of the day.

The Wizard continues the adventures of Sir Able who was killed at the end of The Knight while battling the dragon Grengarm then instantly whisked off to the ValFathers hall of heroes to fight another day. The ValFathers Hall being similar if not identical to the Viking Valhalla. After a twenty year stay as a guest of the ValFather, having been allowed to return to the world of the living to seek out his one true love, Sir Able appears seemingly out of nowhere, directly in front of his squire Toug. Needless to say Toug is intrigued by the sudden appearance of the Master he was sure was dead.

Sir Able explains to Toug the reason for his sudden disappearance and return and the story takes off at a pace not seen in any book since the first book in this series. Sir Able has returned just in time to become enmeshed in the almost constant strife between the Frost giants of the north who raid the human lands for slaves, booty and seemingly just for the fun of it, and the humans living in the south. Sir Able is accompanied by his magical horse Cloud, a giant dog named Gylf, a talking cat named Mani and a shifting cast of human characters too numerous to mention. Equipped with the great sword Eterne and a marvelous, possibly magical set of amour Able has his work cut out for him. He must quest for the one great love in his life, Disiri the queen of the Moss Aelf, battle the Frost giants to help save his people, fulfill his oaths to king and country and, one other small thing. He has a message to deliver to the king himself. The problem is that he is bound to not reveal the contents of the message to anyone but the king, in fact he cannot reveal who the message is from either. This makes it difficult for him to gain an audience with the king. When he finally gets in to see the king things become even more difficult. Promptly jailed and stripped of his knighthood things could look any worse for the good knight? However as we learned in The Knight if one has the requisite honor and lives as that honor requires then one is a knight already and the ceremony in which one is knighted is but a formality. Thus a true knight cannot be stripped of his knighthood. As for being imprisoned, Sir Able is nothing if not resourceful!

The Wizard is indeed a treasure. Sir Able is still a boy in a man's body although somewhat aged by his trials and tribulations, not to mention his death and resurrection. His feats of strength and skill at arms are breathtaking. As always his dedication to his knight's honor and the lengths to which he will go to uphold it are legendary and worthy of their own tale. The characters are engaging and the dialogue sparkles. With all this to offer and seven worlds packed with magical beings The Wizard has something for everyone and is not to be missed.

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