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EPUB ì Soldier of the Mist Ö Gene Wolfe Has Turned To The Fantastic Historical World Of Greece, InBC When The Gods Walked The Earth Latro, A Mercenary Soldier From The North, Has Suffered A Head Wound In Battle And Has Been Separated From His Compatriots He Has Not Only Lost The Memory Of Who He Is And Where He Is From, He Has Also Lost The Ability To Remember From Day To Day And Must Live Out Of Context In An Eternal Present, Every Day Rediscovering The Shreds Of His Identity And The Nature Of The World Around Him, Aided Only By A Written Record That He Attempts To Continue Daily And Must Read Every MorningBut In Recompense For His Unhappy Condition Latro Has Received The Ability To See And Converse With Invisible Beings, All The Gods And Goddesses, Ghosts And Demons And Werewolves, Who Inhabit The Land And Affect The Lives Of Others, All Unseen Everyone Knows That Supernatural Creatures Are Constantly Around Them And Sometimes, Under Special Circumstances, Can Perceive Them But Latro Is Now Constantly Able To Penetrate The Veil Of The Supernatural, Which Is Both A Triumph And A Danger very good stuff almost done with it and will talksoon next in my GW oeuvre read either the next Soldier or the refresher of long Sun so I can get to Short Sunfinished this a few days ago and while I generally liked it and thought it had very interesting stuff, the premise do wears slightly thin on occasion, especially towards the end still worth for the ingenuity of the author and the combination of realism and fantasy, but not sure when I will get to the next book as the repetitiveness Latro wakes up and does not know who he is and what he did, has to read his journal etc means one takes it in small chunks separated in time 3.5 to 4 starsPerhaps I m finally growing into Gene Wolfe There are still a lot of things about his writing that irritate me, but now that I ve got a fair number of his works under my belt some even read multiple times and have a clearer idea of what to expect I am finding myselfable to accept most of these elements as challenging rather than offensive I ve come to expect several things from a book by Gene Wolfe an unreliable narrator of course this narrator tends to be a hero with exceptional abilities granted either through birth or the blessings of the gods and is usually irresistible to the opposite sex, a bit of a pill personality wise and often follows some version of the innocent fool template mixed with thetraditional martial hero and who tends to be less interesting than the secondary characters around him a puzzle like narrative that obscuresthan it reveals and impliesthan it states erudition that can be somewhat oppressive in its range and obscurantism the encroachment upon the mundane by the supernatural in both physical and immaterial ways often in the guise of the inexplicable interference of gods or godlike beings with an agenda for the outcome of human affairs water gods and nymphs are an especial favourite and finally a favourite chestnut of Wolfe s is the inclusion of some kind of vampire like creature and or a shapeshifter Soldier in the Mist certainly partakes liberally of all of these I might go so far as to say that Latro, the main character in Solider of the Mist, is pretty much Gene Wolfe s wet dream of a protagonist Here we get a narrator so unreliable that he has to sift through his own words each day in order to make sense of them, never mind the poor reader In this Latro is pretty much the polar opposite of Severian, Wolfe s hero from the New Sun series where the young torturer apprentice from the last days of Urth was cursed with an eidetic memory which he still parsed to his own convenience Latro is cursed with a loss of short term memory that makes him unable to remember anything that happened to him on the previous day This state of affairs was brought about by a head injury suffered by the mercenary in as we find out through the course of events the battle of Plataea as he fought for the Persian King Xerxes against the Greek Confederacy The resulting story follows a format not altogether unlike the movie Memento in which a character in a similar situation was forced to rely on post it notes, journals, and tattoos to help him remember who he was and that he was on a path of vengeance For his part Latro has been writing out the events of each day on a scroll and is forced, at least at those times when he is lucky enough either to be reminded by others or happens to read the injunction to Read This Every Day that is emblazoned on the outside of his scroll, to go back and read his own composition in order to understand where he is and who everyone around him might be Like I said the perfect Gene Wolfe narrator The reader of course participates in this attempt to make sense of strange and inexplicable events at the same time as Latro does To add to the confusion for the modern reader and really, it wouldn t be a Gene Wolfe book if he wasn t trying to confuse you now would it is the fact that we are placed squarely in the ancient world and Latro tells us the names of events, places and characters in a literal, and sometimes misconstrued, translation of their name Thus, for example, Athens becomes Thought , the island of Achaia is Redface Island , and Corinth becomes Tower Hill I have to admit that I found this aspect of the novel to be something that added to the flavour of the text for me as opposed to one that jarred I suppose I felt that in adding to the strangeness of the names of places that would otherwise seem too familiar to me from other sources I was better able to approach the world of classical Greece in a new and interesting way The final layer of confusion and obfuscation is added by the fact that in this world the gods and eldritch beings of classical mythology do indeed walk amongst men and are ever ready to utter a gnomic phrase or attempt to further their own mysterious ends by manipulating mere mortals They are usually invisible to those who walk only in the mundane world, but as strange things begin to come visibly to the fore as we read it becomes apparent that a bizarre side effect of Latro s injury is an ability to see this invisible world clearly though of course it s always possible that Latro is just having hallucinations Sometimes these supernatural beings attempt to aid Latro with cryptic guidance while others seem inimical to whatever actions he attempts to take Either way it becomes apparent that he is a pawn in their great game In essence the story is about Latro s quest to be healed of his malady, or barring that to at least find out where he comes from and return to his native land Of course, even with a prophecy from the Shining God to guide him or perhaps because of it things are not that easy We follow Latro across the land of the Hellenes as he attempts to follow the path laid out for him by the god with the aid of several new friends and allies he picks up along the way We are treated throughout to a view of the Greek Confederacy during the time of the Graeco Persian wars from the point of view of a true outsider We also glimpse many of the gods and supernatural beings with which their country appears to be densely populated and learn thatoften than not human events appear to have been driven by the will of the gods and reflect wars that, while perhapsgrand in their scope, are no less petty in their motivations I especially enjoyed Wolfe s characterization of the gods which seemed to be partially Graves ian in the anthropological and geographical emphasis he placed on their names, powers, and nature, but which didn t lose its eldritch character for all of that These are not the relatively clear cut though all too human versions of the Greek gods most readers may befamiliar with Beneath the veneer of civilization and regal glory the chthonic hearts of these gods are dark and dangerous indeed The world of ancient Greece that Wolfe presents is a fascinating one and the struggles and wars of the gods that impinge upon the world of mortals is intriguing, he seems to have a real flair for the numinous and its impact on human life I think having just finished The Iliad was a distinct advantage for me in coming to this book Not only was I still in the mood for the world of ancient Greece, but I was even able to see some of the same concerns and many of the same characters even though the events portrayed in Soldier of the Mist are happening centuries after the fall of Troy I also didn t get the feeling that Wolfe was simply writing modern characters into an ancient setting, his characters were relatable and all displayed familiar aspects of human nature that rang true, but they also seemed to be uniquely suited to and representative of their own milieu I quite enjoyed this book and dove immediately into the sequel Soldier of Arete I haven t lost all of my reservations in regards to Wolfe s method and madness, but overall I think I m becomingwilling to sit back and enjoy the ride I just make sure to stop and look around a lotthan I might feel is needed for another author.Also posted at Shelf Inflicted I m still wrapping my head around this book, so consider this review a possibly perpetual work in progress My book club discusses it on Monday so I might haveto add at that point It is thanks to two Gene Wolfe fans that I have read this book one for selecting it and one for providing useful resources to help me understand it better And of course as with anything by Gene Wolfe I ve ever read, now that I know , I feel like to really appreciate this book I would start again from the beginning.This is different from some of the other books by Wolfe that I have read, those combining science fiction and fantasy, in a far future post tech landscape These instead are set in the historical ancient world and rely heavily on actual texts, plus fantastical elements of the mythology Having only a basic basic knowledge of these ancient times and zero experience with the texts referenced, I may not have had all the background that would have made this an evenenjoyable experience Gene Wolfe is for smart readers.The basic premise is that of Latro, a mercenary with a memory loss problem Because he can only retain about a half of a day at a time, he is constantly transcribing what is happening so he can refer back to it You really only know that he is not a local, and there is so much between the lines that I point you again to the external resources to understand the book The part that will be intriguing to discuss with the book club is whether or not Latro is seeing what he thinks he is seeing Oh and the ending Pinadros shook his head as if in wonder Is it because you can t remember the past that you re so wise, Latro 104 Aforementioned resources, thanks to Ed Names in Soldier of the MistUseful blog, particularly the Decoded entries 5 Stars I shook my head Knowledge is soon changed, then lost in the mist, an echo half heard If I had ever known them, they were lost in the mist, lost forever as though they had never been Soldier of the Mist is an incredible gem It took me a long time to read it as it had to be savored I have read other books by Gene Wolfe and already considered myself a fan, but to me this book was so muchthan the other novels of his that I have read This is a novel that reads like a historical fiction book with a spattering of poetry The story combined with the eloquent writing made this seem like old school poetry to me.What an amazing story and what a journey for our damaged protagonist Latro This is a story that is a cross between Chris Nolan s Memento and the Iliad Wolfe has created a work of art that really took me by surprise The main plot is worth the read in itself The amazing places that it takes us the icing on the cake Our hero is a soldier and a slave and a man without a past He suffers a grievous head wound that should have killed him but thanks to the God s that intervene he survives Problem is he cannot remember one day to the next if not for the scroll that he writes everything down in On the plus side Latro can now commune with the Gods as a result of his wound and what a motley crew do they turn out to be Simply magical.A snippet Then you shall have such gifts as are mine to give Hear my attributes I am a god of divination, of music, of death, and of healing I am the slayer of wolves and the master of the sun I prophesy that though you will wander far in search of your home, you will not find it until you are farthest from it Once only, you will sing as men sang in the Age of Gold to the playing of the gods Long after, you will find what you seek in the dead city Though healing is mine, I cannot heal you, nor would I if I could by the shrine of the Great Mother you fell, to a shrine of hers you must return Then she will point the way, and in the end the wolf s tooth will return to her who sent it A poem that is relevant to the story Look under the sun, if you would see Sing Make sacrifice to me But you must cross the narrow sea.The wolf that howls has wrought you woe To that dog s mistress you must go Her hearth burns in the room below.I send you to the God Unseen Whose temple lies in Death s terrene There you shall learn why He s not seen.Sing then, and make the hills resound King, nymph, and priest shall gather round Wolf, faun, and nymph, spellbound This is a masterpiece of writing and story telling and it does not even matter thatbooks follow this one My highest recommendations.