Category Archives: 2019 Book Reviews

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 11: The Knight by Gene Wolfe









Legendary author science-fiction and fantasy author Gene Wolfe died on April 14th at the age 87. Wolfe created a body of work over five decades that placed him at the top of the genre and considered by many to be the best writer that science-fiction and fantasy had ever produced.  I wrote a blog post about his influence in the genre and the tributes poured in over the recognition of his immense talent.

I read the Wizard Knight Duology in honor of passing. I have read and reviewed two standalone novels: Pirate Freedom and The Land Across over the years.  Those books belied his reputation of being an author hard for readers.  Wolfe’s best-known books, The Book of the New Sun, gave him the reputation as a writer’s writer and his use of the unreliable narrator and dense prose throughout most of his work has either entranced or frustrated most readers.

Well, The Knight falls in line with the aforementioned Pirate Freedom and The Land Across as some of Wolfe’s more accessible work. It is the story of a teenage boy transported to a magical realm of seven levels of reality. He is known as Sir Able of the High Heart in this realm and is viewed as a full-grown adult. Sir Able has a sword promised to him and travels through these seven levels of reality to pursue what is due to him.

However, Sir Able is still a teenager despite his full grown appearance on the outside.  And this journey towards manhood provides many unexpected twists and turns. Wolfe has incorporated Celtic Mythology, Catholicism, and Epic Fantasy Tropes into an interesting mixture unlike any high fantasy novel I have read in a long time. The chapters are short but the density of the narrative took me awhile to get through it.

The Knight is the first half of the duology and story ends like one half of a complete story.  I’m eager to start The Wizard, the second book of the duology, and find out how Sir Able’s story concludes.  I recommend The Knight as an entry point into Wolfe’s work and hope these books get wider recognition as a major contribution to fantasy literature.  Rest in Power, Gene Wolfe.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 10: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

                Cal Newport has written another excellent book about how technology (mostly social media) has affected modern life. Digital Minimalism is the follow-up the ground-breaking book, Deep Work and Newport expands on his ideals from that previous work to propose a new philosophy for the social media age.… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 9: Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay

                Guy Gavriel Kay has become an author I look forward to reading. His brand of fantasy captured my attention in Ysabel, Children of Earth and Sky, and Sailing to Sarantium, the first book in Sarantine Mosaic series. Kay has carved out his own niche in fantasy that… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 8: Fantasy’s Othering Fetish by P. Djeli Clark

Fantasy’s Othering Fetish by P. Djeli Clark came onto my radar recently and after reading the comments in Goodreads about this book made me want to read it.  Actually, it is more of a long-form essay than a full-length book, Clark makes the argument about how the fantasy genre has treated the non-European as an… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 6: The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

There are a lot of writing craft books out there for writers.  I’m sure many of them are useful for fledging writers to get better at their craft of writing fiction.  However, I realize that a certain writing craft book comes into a writer’s life at the right time. The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 5: Little Leaders-Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

My 9 year old daughter, Norah, wanted to read this one.  Again. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison celebrates the contributions of African-American women in American Society. Forty women were featured in the beautifully illustrated book from well-known names like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Ella Fitzgerald, Maya Angelou, and… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 4: Nightwings by Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg has become my favorite old school SF writer and I have read 6 books during his most prolific period of 1967-1976, beginning with A Time of Changes, Downward to the Earth, Tower of Glass, To Open the Sky, The Man in the Maze, and Nightwings. Nightwings is a short, mournful novel that follows… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 3: Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey

February is Black History Month in the United States and I have always wanting to learn something about our history as Americans that I did not know previously. Well, I found out last month on the Rick Steves’ travel podcast about a travel guide published during the days of Jim Crow. The Negro Motorist Green… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 2: Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford

I’m a reading completist. I did not realize completist was a word until I typed this review.  I felt it’s appropriate for my latest Wisdom From Kammbia review. In 2015, I read and wrote a review for The Sportswriter by Richard Ford, the first Frank Bascombe novel. I wrote that I hated the protagonist and… Continue Reading