(urth) Long Review Essay on Wizard Knight

thalassocrat at nym.hush.com thalassocrat at nym.hush.com
Wed Sep 19 03:12:25 PDT 2007

On Wed, 19 Sep 2007 03:45:03 +1000 Stephen Frug 
<sfrug at post.harvard.edu> wrote:
>Greetings Urthlings.  I've read this message list before, but 
>posted to it.  (Unless this message is itself a duplicate... the 
>first time seems to have gotten lost...)  But I just wrote a long 
>review of Wizard Knight which I posted to my blog 

Nice piece, thanks!

To enjoy Wolfe I generally have to hold my nose & swallow his 
political & religious assumptions whole, and then grit my teeth to 
deal with the crappy genre trappings -  but having done that, it's 
usually worth it :)

I guess for me the most interesting point you raise is the one 
where you say: OK, fine, Wolfe's heroes may be pretty good 
characterisations of what counts as heroic for the kinds of 
societies they find themselves in. But how can a modern kid be 
excused for aspiring and acting as Able does? 

Within the story, the answer is obvious. On one level, he's been 
programmed that way by Dsiri et al. They want him to win renown 
within the society of Celidon, where the martial virtues are 
absolutely predominant, so he can meet the king on equal-ish terms 
and deliver the message. 

To induce him into this, he's been enchanted so that Dsiri is 
absolutely and entirely the most important thing for him, and to 
believe unquestioningly that gaining status in Celidon as a warrior 
is the only way to win her. He will stomp on anything which gets in 
his way, without regret. They've harnassed his adolescent hormones 
to turn him into a Clockwork Orange Lout Knight Wannabe. 

So is Wolfe really holding out the knightly ideal as being a Good 
Thing? His hero character has been co-opted into following, without 
his consent, it by a creature of mud and twigs who is less than a 
dream ...

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