(urth) Long Review Essay on Wizard Knight

Craig Brewer cnbrewer at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 24 09:52:41 PDT 2007

On Able's morality, Wolfe did say in an interview that
TWK was inspired as a traditional chivalric romance
except without the Christian worldview of the Middle
Ages. Instead, you get the harsher Norse aspect of the

To me, you can take that "without the Christian
worldview" aspect in two ways. On the one hand, it
looks like traditional "speculative fiction" in the
sense of "what if" novels. (I.e., what if the romances
of the middle ages had been written without
Christianity.) Or, you can take it as a more subtle
moral investigation of knight culture in which Able's
troubled morality (or "bully" nature) is both
necessary and inadequate to his society, etc.

Either way, I don't find Able to be in any way
"worrying" as if it supposedly exposes Wolfe as
idealizing the school yard bully. It seems to me that
the two books offer much more for thought than whether
or not we "like" the main character and can
"sympathize" with him. If Wolfe chooses to write about
a warlike society without any moral system that
opposes the brutality of the sword, why should we
react with shocked indignation when he gives us a
character who is a product of that society? In many
ways, I find TWK much more believable than most modern
fantasy in which evil warlords run rampant and the
main "good guy" somehow ends up being an innocent-eyed
do-gooder who gets these ideas of freedom and kindness
from seemingly nowhere in his quest to free the world
of evil. If magic and knights were real (and socially
dominant), then I expect the world would look
something like Mythgarthr.


Tonight's top picks. What will you watch tonight? Preview the hottest shows on Yahoo! TV.

More information about the Urth mailing list