by Gene Wolfe
Kirkus After more than 15 years, Wolfe (The Wizard, 2004, etc.) returns to his historical-fantasy series (Soldier in the Mist, 1986, etc.). Around 500 b.c., narrator Latro, a Roman mercenary, suffered a head wound and now can't remember anything when he awakes each day, so he meticulously records his experiences in a scroll and must re-read it every morning. However, he is able to see and converse with ghosts and gods. Now, Latro sails with his friend, sea-captain Muslak, to Egypt—or so the scroll informs him—where Egypt's Persian satrap has commissioned Muslak to explore the largely mysterious upper reaches of the Nile. Both Latro and Muslak hire temple prostitutes to become their "river wives" for the duration of the journey. In addition, Latro commands a squad of soldiers. Also aboard are Thotmaktef the scribe, Qanju the official and Sahuset the magician. Occasionally appearing—to Latro, at any rate—are a talking baboon and a huge black cat. In a coffin Sahuset keeps Sabra, a wax statue shaped as a woman, and when Latro draws near, the statue comes to life and demands blood. Later, Latro acquires from the shade of a former pharaoh, Sesostris, a slave, Uraeus, who's also a cobra. A merchant, Charthi, asks Latro to make inquiries after his son, Kames, missing after traveling to the south in search of gold. The longer the journey grows, the more peculiar it becomes. More teasing than demanding—the text abounds with sly references to Latro's previous adventures; Latro, of course, doesn't remember them and, likely, neither will his readers. Well worth investigating, but not especially purposeful or compelling. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly Latro, the amnesiac visionary hero of Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete, reaches the Egypt known to Herodotus in Wolfe's splendid historical fantasy. Wounded in battle, Latro has only one day's worth of memory and must write down his experiences so he will know who he is every morning. In compensation, he's able to see gods and supernatural beings and does not distinguish them from the mortals around him. Gaps in the record and Wolfe's Haggardesque device of the manuscript found in a jar make Latro the most postmodern of unreliable narrators, aware that he's writing a text, uncertain of its meaning and unable to keep its entirety in his head. For all Wolfe assures us that ancient Egypt is not mysterious, Latro's journey makes up a leisurely, dreamlike, haunted house of a novel, which brilliantly immerses the reader in the belief systems of the time, drifting in and out of the everyday and spirit worlds until the two become indistinguishable. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list The third novel about Spartan soldier Latro, cursed to forget each day's events, which necessitates faithful diary keeping (hence, the form the Latro novels assume), takes him to Egypt. Wolfe again makes his uneducated protagonist credibly eloquent about what happens and whom he encounters, which is particularly important here because Egypt is the classical world's California, where anything can happen and usually does. The long wait for the latest Latro has been well rewarded. --Roland Green Copyright 2006 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Library Journal Cursed with the inability to remember his words or actions from day to day, the soldier named Latro (or Lucius or Lewqys) finds himself in Egypt, the guest of a Phoenician sea captain who has agreed to take him on a voyage into his past. Visited regularly by visions of gods and holding on to a sense of continuity by keeping a diary he reads every morning, Latro searches for a way to lift his curse and remember his past so that he can live a normal life. Continuing the story begun in Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete, Wolfe brings his stylistic excellence and imaginative genius to this tale of a man who daily sees the world made new and who witnesses magic and miracles at every turn. A welcome addition from one of the genre's most literate and thoughtful authors; highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.