Sunday, April 16, 2006

I first developed my taste for traditional swords-and-sorcery fantasy with the classics like T.H.White's Once and Future King, Tolkien, and Fritz Leiber's Swords series. There were so many authors jumping on the bandwagon in the 80s and 90s with fantasy trilogies that it became difficult to find the really good work. There has been some good work, and I did put together a list a couple of years ago - although even there very few of the books listed are 'classic' swords-and-sorcery.

Gene Wolfe's new novels Knight and Wizard, published together in one volume as Wizard Knight are a brilliant example of traditional fantasy done well.

The story starts with a boy from our world getting lost and wandering into Aelfrice. He makes his way back to the human world of Mythgarthr (where most of the story is set) but he soon encounters Disiri, queen of the Moss-aelfs, and falls in love. She transforms his body into that of grown man, and knights him, setting him on his quest.

Wolfe has re-invented many of the standard fantasy motifs: his ogres, fire-aelfs, moss-aelfs, giants, and dragons are all fresh creations necessary for his story, not stereotypes from the genre.

Thanks to Nick for recommending it to me.

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