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Soldier of the Mist

(Latro #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,965 ratings  ·  145 reviews
Gene Wolfe has turned to the fantastic historical world of Greece, in 479 B.C., 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 ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published December 31st 1987 by Tor Books (first published 1986)
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Melanti werewolfves?? Well, at least it gave me a chuckle.

The description was imported from Amazon, so it must have been typed in by someone wishing to sell…more
werewolfves?? Well, at least it gave me a chuckle.

The description was imported from Amazon, so it must have been typed in by someone wishing to sell an old used copy.

I replaced it with the most current blurb from the Kindle edition.

By the way, you can ask for changes like this in the Librarian's group:

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  2,965 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
3.5 to 4 stars

Perhaps 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 myself more able 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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 have more to 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 more, I feel like to really appreciate this book I would start again from
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
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 much more than the other novels of his that I have read. This is a novel that reads like a historical
Perry Whitford
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Latro awakes in a medical tent of the Great King Xerxes' defeated army just after the battle of Platea with a severe head wound and no memory of how he got there.

He is given a scroll and a stylus to write down his experiences, which will be his only way of knowing who he is and where he is going for, as each day dawns, his memory vanishes into the mist.

So begins the most astonishing work of historical fantasy fiction I am yet to read. As you may imagine by the affliction of the protagonist,
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
A fun lark from Wolfe. I wish that I could rate this a 4 (or even 5) for the quality of the prose and the immersive world Wolfe has created, but my enjoyment was hampered at several points by Wolfe's fucked up gender politics. Having read something like 8 or 9 of his books now, I'm seriously sick of Every. Single. Female. Character. being either a naïve child, a magical entity/godess (who is usually trying to kill or seduce the protagonist), or literally a prostitute. I am seriously starting to ...more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
3.5 stars rounded up because by the end, I was hooked.

Drugs work wonders on a person who knows his history, or at least, that was my persistent thought while I was reading this book :)
I'm not being wholly fair, after all the protagonist of this original story suffered a head injury compounded by the curse of a goddess, he has the ability to see "unseen things" and wakes every day with little to none recollection of what passed before. So he writes down as much as he can, and he's consequently a
Daniel Polansky
Frequent readers (Surely there must be some better use of your...that is to say, one might learn Spanish or perhaps do a puzzle...well, you're here already, might as well stay) will know that I have a complicated relationship with Gene Wolfe. For The Book of the New Sun, his marvelous short fiction, and the truly masterful Peace, I would argue that Wolfe is one of and probably the foremost living writer of speculative fiction, that is to say, fiction. And yet the rest of his work I confess to ...more
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Serena by: Netanella
I imagine a Romanticized reason to why we call the language of Rome, Latin, is for their latro, or soldiers. However, that's not a true linguist root.

I have wanted to read this series for many years, before, in fact, the Percy Jackson books came out, but it's one of those books which I had never much luck in finding. If honest I am touchy about historical fantasy and mythology, if done wrong, I can't seem to keep my temper and it will sour my reading for weeks - if done right (and this is done
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"The gods are strange and cruel."

It's been several years since I've read this phenomenal novel and I recommend it highly, with qualification. You should only read this, or for that matter, any of Wolfe's work, by letting the author tell his tale. I have found for myself, and talking for others, that Wolfe can be extremely frustrating if you are continually trying to "figure out" what's going on.

Let it go. If you let the story unfold, pay close attention, you'll see the wonder of what's going
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
very good stuff; almost done with it and will talk more soon; next in my GW oeuvre read either the next Soldier or the refresher of long Sun so I can get to Short Sun

finished 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
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I read this years ago, and re-read it a few years after that. I was mystified the first time I read it, then taken with certain parts the next. This time I saw the thing as a whole, and a very productive one. In other words, I like it better each time around. The idea of our soldier having his memory erased each time he sleeps, so that he has to meticulously record his fantastic adventures, makes my skin crawl. Could these adventures be simply the product of a warped mind? No matter. Ancient ...more
Kelly Flanagan
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
I have to say that not since reading 'Tale of Two Cities' in grade 7, has reading 250 or so pages taken me so long. I am some one that falls asleep reading. I consider reading to have been my first addiction. Way more important than coffee or smokes. But this book was hard. And I will admit that I didn't end up really 'getting' the story in the end. Hopefully those of you who take on this book will have an easier time with it than I did.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part one of a duology called "Latro In the Mist" (and now, with a third book, a trilogy) by Gene Wolfe.

I figured I'd review each half as a separate book and leave the combined duology in my "currently reading" list. There was really no way I was going to be able to make myself patiently wait till the end of book two to review them both.

This was a tough one for me. I can't count how many times I fell asleep with this book in hand. I'd bought the book years ago and had it sitting on the shelf
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Soldier of the Mist is even better than The Shadow of the Torturer. It is exquisitely written, around the legends of Greece around the Battle of Plataea and a year or so beyond. Wolfe uses what we know of the legends of the time to build a strange story of memory and gods.

The main character was injured during the battle, and has acquired a misty memory and a shadowy existence. He forgets everything about a day or a bit less after it happens; to compensate for this he keeps a diary, and the only
Clement Kent
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I like to alternate books that make me think with easier ones. This book is at the head of the "make me think" list. Wolfe makes the reader work to get everything that's going on (and I'm never sure I DID get everything). So, if that sounds awful to you, skip this book!

On the other hand, if you want a fun and challenging way of learning about Greek mythology on the one hand and the Persian-Greek wars on the other, this is it. I first read it when it came out, without the benefit of the internet;
Daniel Bensen
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adrian Tchaikovsky calls Wolfe "the master of the first person." He's right.
Latro is a book supposedly translated by Wolfe from a diary kept by a 5th-century-BC Roman mercenary in Greece who received a wound to the head and can't remember much earlier than twelve hours ago. It's a delightful conceit, as the main point of view from the book (some chapters are written by other people) doesn't speak Greek perfectly, doesn't have the context to understand most of what's going on, and is prone to
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Echoes of the Author’s brilliant Book of the New Sun can be found in this rousing tale of an ancient warrior who wakes up as a prisoner of war after the defeat of the Great King Xerxes during the second Persian invasion of the Peloponnese and has absolutely no idea who he is as the result of a serious head wound. Each morning our hero must read the events of the previous day which he has written down the night before. As a result of this interesting device, there are large gaps in the narrative ...more
Matthew Fray
Jun 27, 2015 rated it liked it
My opinion of this book seemed to change depending on when I read it; during the day I found it fascinating, in the evening it seemed uninvolving and humourless. When I got to the end I felt robbed of a proper ending - it quite literally run out of words (the text on the "first scroll" simply came to an end). BUT there was something or, perhaps, a number of things that make me want to read part 2. Firstly, Mr Wolfe creates the period very well, in both the form of the book and the writing. The ...more
Nov 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Evan by: Tim
Shelves: fantasy
Imagine Momento smashed into American Gods but actually set in ancient Greece. And then take away the ending.

You might get pretty close to Soldier of the Mist, which turns out to be a very good book. It takes a bit of knowledge about the geopolitical landscape of the time to get everything out of it, but it's not totally required. It does have a sequel, so the lack of ending thing is only partially reprehensible. Overall, worth the read.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
reminded me of the movie memento and fifty first dates. lo was probably my favorite character in the book
D Dyer
I have had a somewhat rocky relationship with this author. Every book I start that wolf has written takes me a wild to get into, but previous entries have been worth it. I was hoping I’d have a similar experience with this book but I can’t say that I did. Lattro begins this book with no idea who he is and little to no ability to remember much of his life past the events of the previous day. Consequently there isn’t a lot of room for a real sense of character, either from the narrator or from the ...more
Robert Defrank
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
It’s been tough to compose a review for Gene Wolfe’s Soldier series, or even to recommend them. They’re not light reading by any means, but demand knowledge of Classical history and constant attention. Most definitely some re-readings a well.

In brief: in the aftermath of the Battle of Plataea the main character, called Latro (solider), a Roman mercenary fighting on the side of Xerxes suffers a head injury and is taken prisoner by the victorious Greeks. Latro then forgets everything that has
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Every time I make the decision to start a Gene Wolfe book, I know I'm in for a challenge. His writing is beautiful, deceptive, and so rewarding that I find myself in awe. Soldier in the Mist is no exception. With echoes of Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, and Homer, this novel is just a wonderful excursion into an ancient time.

It follows Latro, a mercenary soldier for the "Great King" (Xerxes) in 479 BC who suffers a head wound and has no short term memory so he forgets the past day's events each
James Adams
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Actually read this a couple weeks ago, had to let it sink in a bit because... wow.
I like highbrow fantasy (though a lot of it is too dense for me to really enjoy), and I adore structural experimentation. I love mythology, too, and this book has all of these things in spades, along with great characters and a creeping sense of dread.
It follows Latro, a soldier in ancient Greece shortly after the Battle of Thermopylae. He has suffered a head wound that has left him an amnesiac, unable not only to
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scribd, 2017
I confess I've always been afraid that Gene Wolfe would be a little beyond me. I'm not a subtle reader, and symbolism and various other literary devices are mostly closed books to me. But I've decided not to worry about that anymore, and just to read and enjoy his books in any way I can. Because there's a lot to enjoy here. And I can look up reviews and analyses to fill in the bits I missed.

First, the writing is gorgeous. Reading prose like this is just so satisfying. It's the story of Latro,
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
There are two types of readers that will read this book: Greek mythology/history experts and we those who have minimum knowledge of it but it will not be something too determinant at first sight that would come to influence our enjoyment of this book.

This is high literature I believe so but unlike other Wolfe's books I read ( BOTNS, Fifth head of cerberus ) this story has not captivated me much. It starts very strong telling the misadventures of a mercenary called Latro whose memory lasts just
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I've pretty nearly read everything Wolfe has written. And have reread quite a bit also. He writes enigmatic, beautifully told fantasy full of Catholic symbolism.

This book, the first of three with the same character, is set in ancient Greece. A soldier, Latro, receives a head wound that prevents him from remembering anything about his life after a night's sleep. So he must write every day to remind himself who he is, who his friends are, why he can't remember anything. In recompense for the
Erik Graff
Jan 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wolfe fans
Recommended to Erik by: Larry Santoro
Shelves: literature
Like much of Wolfe's writing, this is not science fiction. But, then, little of Wolfe's writing is. He just needs to construct worlds and science fiction and fantasy are two genres which allow such things.

A third, less perfect because there are historical constraints, is historical fiction. This, the first volume of his Soldier series, is set in the 4th century Mediterranean world, during the Persian Wars, and features a Roman mercenary with a mental condition which includes both amnesia and
Michael Drakich
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Having read the Torturer series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, my expectations of this novel may have been a little higher than normal. Although I found the concept of a soldier who forgets everything more than 24 hours old and who sees gods in Ancient Greece, The story gained a certain plodding attitude as it went. The main character, Latro, plodded through events without really giving the reader a sense of direction as to where the story was going. I did not get that feeling until the very last ...more
Brian Rogers
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There was a log period where everything Wolfe wrote was freakin' brilliant. This one is no exception. A study on memory, identity, divinity and ancient Greek history, threading an unusual adventure story among Herodotus' histories, it's a challenging and engaging book, funny at points, full of both mysteries and tricks both human and supernatural.
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Gene Wolfe was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He was noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He was a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science

Other books in the series

Latro (3 books)
  • Soldier of Arete (Latro #2)
  • Soldier of Sidon (Latro #3)
“In ancient Greece, skeptics were those who thought, not those who scoffed.” 1 likes
“It had become the face of a scholar of the worst kind, of the sort of man who has studied many things hidden from common men and grown wise and corrupt. He” 1 likes
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