(urth) Long Review Essay on Wizard Knight

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 18 13:08:37 PDT 2007

The reviewer said:
"But I think my biggest complaint -- my biggest stumbling block -- was a pair of intertwined issues: the character of Abel, and the ethics (even, politics) of the book. First off, I found Abel frequently insufferable. Pompous, self-righteous, frequently a bully, he also came off as a Mary Sue (at least in one sense of that polyvalent term of fan critique): not only was he the most courageous and noble person about, but he also had the writer stacking the deck for him at every turn. He had more magical allies, artifacts, assistants, companions, than you could shake a stick at: an invisible ogre doing his bidding! A sky-wolf who happened to be totally loyal! Elves (called Aelf) who were his slaves (yes, not always reliable, but often enough). A magic sword, the blessing and friendship of Odin, various other magic devices he got at the end (the helmet, another sword). Heck, he even becomes a god halfway through the work! Talk about favoritism!* This sort of stacking the deck is hard enough to take when the writer has some self-consciousness about what he's doing, but I didn't see any sign that Wolfe did. He simply loved his creation, and showered him with so many cheats and advantages that any honor he might have accrued felt like a cheat."
Not to put too fine a point on it but I think you have missed the point to a degree, on a very basic level.
If you found Able to be insufferable, it is very likely because the author wrote him in such a way as to convey that impression.
If you find the same devices frequently used in the fantasy genre present to an extreme that is pretty recognizable, then you were probably intended to take note of it - it is unlikely to be simple obliviousness.
If you found the ethics to be problematic then perhaps the situations were intended to cause the reader to reflect on those problems.
I don't mean this to come across as hostile. But what I am saying here is that if you want to understand *any* of Wolfe's work as anything more than a rip-roarin' tale of Adventure, you have to approach it with such considerations in mind.
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