Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Soldier of the Mist (Latro #1)” as Want to Read:
Soldier of the Mist (Latro #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Soldier of the Mist

(Latro #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  3,137 ratings  ·  163 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 o ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published December 31st 1987 by Tor Books (first published 1986)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Soldier of the Mist, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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:

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,137 ratings  ·  163 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Soldier of the Mist (Latro #1)
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
2020 re-read thoughts:

Definitely worth a bump up to five stars.

This may not be the work that Gene Wolfe will be most remembered for, that would likely be the volumes of 'The Book of the New Sun'; nor is it the most ‘Wolfean’ puzzle box of a book, which is probably, to my mind at least, The Fifth Head of Cerberus; but I have to say that , at the moment at least, the story of Latro is my very favourite of Wolfe’s works.

As with nearly all of Wolfe’s protagonists that I’ve come across, Latro is s
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 th
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, Wol
Juho Pohjalainen
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it
By this time I've come to the conclusion that trying to do serious reviews of Gene Wolfe's books, right after reading them, is quite the waste of time - much like trying to grasp at mist, for that is how it now feels in my mind.

It's been a weird hazy ride, but oddly enjoyable and with good characters. Fine writing too, as always with Wolfe. I'll say more once I give this a second read.
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
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 a
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.
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 fi ...more
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 on
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
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
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
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 Gre ...more
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 wait
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;
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ivan, 2020
I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I didn't like it, but I didn't not like it either. It is like watching Jeopardy and constantly having the answer just at the tip of your tongue, but you never actually hear the correct answer because someone is telling you about their dream.

The book uses a Memento gimmick where the protagonist cannot remember anything, and writes down what little he knows to remind himself about where he is, who he is traveling with, and what he is trying to accomplish.

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 hal
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 i ...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.
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. ...more
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
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 occu
Andrew Dirgo
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Loved the translated scroll, can’t wait to read the rest of them. The characters are interesting and more sympathetic than I’m used to for Wolfe. He is a master of the unreliable narrator, and this take on the unreliable thing is fascinating and fits perfectly with both story, characters, and setting.

Will require a second read (as with all of Wolfe’s work) and I’m very excited to delve into the subtext in a way that I couldn’t on a first read.

Would be 5 stars but for the unrealistically high b
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
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, th
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 o
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • This Immortal
  • Ilium (Ilium, #1)
  • The Dying Earth (The Dying Earth #1)
  • The Courts of Chaos (The Chronicles of Amber #5)
  • Suldrun's Garden (Lyonesse #1)
  • Spellsinger (Spellsinger, #1)
  • Non-Stop
  • Jack of Shadows
  • Lord of Light
  • Trumps of Doom (The Chronicles of Amber #6)
  • Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy, #1)
  • The Ministry for the Future
  • The Singing Sword (Camulod Chronicles, #2)
  • Underworld  (Resident Evil, #4)
  • Fostering Faust: Compilation: Rebirth  (Fostering Faust, #1-3)
  • Otherlife: Compilation (The Selfless Hero Trilogy, #1-3)
  • Arcana Slice of Life: Rank Zero (Arcana Sol Book 2)
  • Przez kraj ludzi, zwierząt i bogów
See similar books…
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 f

Other books in the series

Latro (3 books)
  • Soldier of Arete (Latro #2)
  • Soldier of Sidon (Latro #3)

Related Articles

Susan Orlean, the author of The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession and staff writer for The New Yorker, is back on bookshelves...
76 likes · 14 comments
“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
More quotes…