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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

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"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Reaction to The Knight by Gene Wolfe

I finished Gene Wolfe's The Knight today. My Wolfe gene must be missing, because I don't get it. I understand that his books are often obscure on a first reading, and that this is just the first of a two-book series, but nothing in the book really moved me. Some of the scenes were beautifully written, and I liked the main character, Able of the High Heart, but the story left me flat. It just didn't seem worth the effort.

I thought I'd search the web for other reactions to the book to see what I was missing, and while many reviewers were positive, most of them were vague about why they liked it so much. Their comments generally bore on the same theme: "I'm not sure what the book means, but I look forward to reading the next book to find out."

Finally I found a review that I could relate to. Steven Wu, a "huge fan of Gene Wolfe," found the novel "too random, too aimless," and "like some fantasy writer's first stab at the art." Like me, Wu stuck with the book, "because this is Wolfe." He continues, "I tried hard with this book, slogging through it for a month and a half, and it just never got better."

My feelings exactly.

Be sure to read the entire review at Steven Wu's Book Reviews. And while you're there, check out his opinion of The Power and the Glory, Anubis Gates and Bridge of Birds.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:40 PM

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