Simon's Reviews > Peace

Peace by Gene Wolfe
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's review
Sep 14, 10

bookshelves: fantasy-masterworks, fantasy
Read from September 08 to 14, 2010

This is going to be one of those books that are exceedingly difficult to review and there's a danger that this could turn into a bit of a ramble. How do I even classify this book? It is alledgedly fantasy but if it is, it is only in the loosest possible sense of the word. This doesn't have much in common with any other works of fantasy I've ever read (except Wolfe's other works of fantasy such as The Book of the new Sun).

This is about a old man called Weer who is pondering, reliving or perhaps even reinventing his past whilst he is close to (or perhaps even beyond) death. It is a non-linear, fragmentary and unreliable account of his his life. There are many stories within the main text, relayed either by the protagonist or one of his friends or family that give clues and hints to how you should makes sense of the book. All of these stories, even the book itself, is incomplete and the truth underlying all this is not clearly spelled out.

Trying to make sense of this book was like trying to solve a cryptic crossword. I don't think I was able to give it the effort it required to piece all the clues together. Probably a re-read or two would help. Ultimately, one must be prepared to be constantly looking below the surface, taking nothing at face value. On the surface this isn't a particularly interesting story although it is written in beautiful prose that makes it a pleasure to read.

No, I wouldn't call this fantasy. It is literary fiction that is trying to be very clever indeed, perhaps too clever. I didn't have the time or energy it required to get the most out of it but that's my failing as much as anything else.
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Lupercal My feeling, having just read 'Peace' (and as its narrator is so fond of inserting remarks inside parantheses - and if possible, doing so at some length, and frequently - perhaps I should (considering that it might be distracting) avoid that habit in this comment) I wonder if we don't share a common conundrum: being quietly certain that re-reading the thing would improve it out of sight, and wondering (considering that one can't know in advance) whether it would be worth it.


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