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Latro in the Mist

(Latro Omnibus 1-2)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,560 ratings  ·  82 reviews
A distinguished compilation of two classic fantasy novels, Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Areté, in one volume

This omnibus of two acclaimed novels is the story of Latro, a Roman mercenary who while fighting in Greece received a head injury that deprived him of his short-term memory but gave him in return the ability to see and converse with the supernatural creatures a
Paperback, 640 pages
Published March 19th 2003 by Orb Books
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4.19  · 
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 ·  1,560 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Absolutely gorgeous. I am a really avid fan of historical fiction done well. This is one of the only books in memory that really tries to tackle the ancient Greek world as the ancient Greeks saw it.

The remarkable thing about it is not merely the theme of amnesiac loss of memory, or the fantastical elements, for our hero can see the gods hidden to the rest of humanity thanks to a head injury. No, it is in the gentle tone, the interactions and relationships to various slaves, singer-philosophers,
Michael Battaglia
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I think Gene Wolfe wakes up each morning and sits in front of whatever writing device of choice he uses and thinks to himself, "How can I make this as difficult for myself as possible?" It's pretty rare that he writes a novel where the action is linear or the narrator is anything resembling reliable and sometimes it seems like his preferred method of writing climaxes is to sketch in the details of it and everything around it, then erase the event itself from the text and leave only the ...more
John Lawson
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to John by:
Taking place immediately after the events of the Battle of Thermopylae, it follows the adventures of a foreign mercenary as he travels through Greece, searching for a way home.

Two things make this book really special:

1: Latro suffered a head injury in a battle (possibly even the Battle of Thermopylae itself) and due to this injury, he is unable to form new memories. Much like the guy in "Momento," he lives only in the moment, and his only knowledge of his past is based on the clues he and others
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
Faith Justice
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: given-away
I occasionally run across a book that challenges me; that makes me work for the story and enjoy the labor; that awes me with the craft of the writing. Usually these are considered “literary novels.” I also tend to find a lot of literary novels tedious, because I’m partial to the plot-driven story. But Latro in the Mist surprised me. It’s a fantasy novel because it has gods and ghosts (which may not be real, see my discussion below.) It’s a historical novel about real events set in Greece in 479 ...more
Adam J. Osterkamp
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Serious Readers
Latro in the Mist combines two books—Soldier in the Mist and Soldier of Arete—both wonderful reads about an injured soldier named Latro who suddenly finds himself without the use of his short term memory, but blessed with the ability to communicate with gods. In my very limited experience with the author, Gene Wolfe, I would say that his books must come with a strict caveat: Only serious readers need apply. His books are not those a reader can simply sit down with and leisurely turn through. The ...more
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Oh gosh.. This BOOK!

I love the way Wolfe uses Latro's memory loss, the repetition of details, characters, and circumstance building up, over and over, like lacquer, so that when you're done your left with this perfect even surface with unimaginable layers beneath.

Reading this, and Wolfe's other works, always leaves me wondering why we, as readers, aren't continually shouting his name from the mountain tops. He's such and exquisite and careful writer, but with the ability to enrapture you in hi
Ian Mathers
Aug 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
As much as I love Wolfe, I kind of feel like he bit off a tad more than he can chew with Latro's memory problems. Even in the New Sun books I often wondered if I, as a reader, was remembering enough about past details in the story to catch everything, and with Latro that sensation is multiplied, along with the feeling that certain things that are brought up don't amount to much (the memory palace, Pasicrates, etc.). Of course, there's still another book to go, so we'll see, I suppose, and I may ...more
John Guild
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
I usually love Gene Wolfe's fiction, but this one didn't work for me. The narrative conceit (an amnesiac soldier keeps a journal in order to remember what happens to him) is cool in theory, but frustrating in practice. The resulting story is so fragmented that I'm not sure it adds up to anything substantial. It's sorta like eating cookie crumbs instead of a cookie. Bottom line: an interesting but unsuccessful experiment in form.
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was a really interesting book. It's like Memento, only set in ancient Greece. And I mean REALLY set in ancient Greece - like when you read it you're reminded of the Odysessy and the Iliad in not only the sound of the words, but in the strange thought processes and moralities. To a modern audience, ancient mythologies don't make much sense at anything other than a visceral level. So it is with this book.

The prose and the feeling of the story as a whole are very strange and otherworldly, whi
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have this idea of myself as many-in-one. Not like a Sybill; more like the way a house has a foundation and walls and a kitchen and a roof. We give credit to the roof for the work of the whole house, much like we credit our personality for being 'us', but we are really the whole structure, interdependent. More than interdependent: our parts are in competition with each other, leaning on each other like the walls and floor and roof all press against each other. The 'house-ness' of the thing depe ...more
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, fiction, favorites
A complex, delirious novel, purporting to be a lost scroll written in an archaic form of Latin in the early 5th century BC by a wounded soldier who writes of the day's events at night, forgets everything in the morning, and speaks to the Gods. Through these amazing novels, one experiences ancient Greece as it must have seemed to the ancients.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A refreshing aspect of these books is that they show the cruel, totalitarian nature of Spartan society and the sufferings inflicted on the helots, things completely glossed over in Frank Miller's/Zack Snyder's hyper-stylized testosterone operas.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very strange novel. Very different from the heavier sci-fi settings of Wolfe's other series' that I have read. This takes place in Greece during the war with Xerxes, and follow an amnesiac mercenary (Latro). He forgets every day and the book is written as a scroll that he records the previous day's events on.

Oh, and Latro also encounters Gods, Nymphs, and ghosts along his journey....and they are real.

This makes for both a very confusing, but also an interesting narrative. There are a few const
Claudia Piña
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Tiene muchísimo que no leía a Gene Wolfe, y este fue un largo recordatorio de su estilo. Me gusta lo detallado que es, lo cuidadoso de su historia y lo bien desarrollada que está.
Siento que me habría gustado más si no se hubiera extendido tanto. Cómo que es demasiado minucioso por tanto tiempo que llega a cansar.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first book was easier to read than the second. It was difficult to follow the narrative in the second book because the story seems to make leaps in time without any indication. The reason for it is explained in the prologue of the second book but that doesn't help at all. I'm also having difficulty making sense of the very last chapter. I'll have to revisit it tomorrow when I am not so tired.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think this meanders a little too much for its own good in the second half, but overall Wolfe is still a master - the ancient world feels clearer and closer here than it does in even the Odyssey.
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
LATRO IN THE MIST collects Gene Wolfe's two novels SOLDIER OF THE MIST and SOLDIER OF ARETE, which chronicle the experiences of Latro, a Roman mercenary formerly fighting for the Persians against the Greeks. Wounded in a battle outside the temple of Demeter, Latro is cursed by the Godess to perpetually forget his experiences everyday. His only means of retaining some memory of his life is to write daily in his scroll, and therefore the narrative is first-person. As a curious recompense, Latro ga ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, ambitious
Цікавий історичний роман з елементами фантастики. Головний герой - солдат-найманець Латро, латинянин; його рідна мова латинська, але події відбуваються в 5-му столітті до н.е., під час війни грецькими містами і Персією, коли Рим ще був хутором на одному горбі. Латро контузить, в нього амнезія, він памятає події тільки впродовж одного дня. Словом, Мементо. Медичною мовою - генералізована амнезія.

Вульф - майстер опису хаосу, місива в голові. Основне завдання роману - зробити все можливе для того,
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, with an intriguing premise and an interesting "unreliable" narrator. Latro, a soldier who received a head injury in the Battle of Thermopylae, has lost his short-term memory and can't recall anything that happens the day before, but Latro has also somehow gained the ability to see and interact with the various gods, ghosts, and immortals he encounters along the way. Latro in the Mist, a two-book omnibus, purports to be his journal, which he writes each day so he can read it ...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another superb book from one of the most interesting, fun and formally innovative writers alive. Latro in the Mist is a picaresque novel following the adventures of a Roman mercenary throughout ancient Greece. The novel begins in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Thermopylae, in which Latro has fought on the Persian side. He has suffered a head injury which means he can only remember the last 12 hours or so, and wakes up each day with no idea who he is. He begins to write an account of wh ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It took me two tries to read this book, several years apart. Luckily and fittingly I had forgotten most of it before my second try. During the intervening period I had read a lot of classical and Greek history so a lot of the historical, political, and mythological references made much more sense in context. Without that knowledge it would have seemed much more fantastical and confusing (which is a large portion of why I put it down the first time).

Wolfe's nearly trademarked unreliable narrator
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Wolfe and the ancient Western world.
In "Latro in the Mist", Gene Wolfe again provides us with an unreliable narrator who is an unconventional hero wrapped up in larger-than-life events from a world we often know little about. Through the eyes of a wounded soldier, we get a unique perspective of the world of ancient Greece. As usual, Wolfe leaves me wanting to do more reading and research to find more of the hidden layers of meaning and allusion that I am sure are hidden in his work. Admittedly, compared to his "Book of the New Sun ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’m not a fan of unreliable narrators, but I’ll make an exception for Latro. Beautifully written, and well-researched with lots of nice period details. You don’t have to be a student of Classical history to enjoy this book, but if you are you’ll appreciate the work that Wolfe put into this.

Brief summary: a mercenary from Latium wakes up after the battle of Plataea with terrible head trauma. His can’t remember who he is, or why he’s in Greece. His memory holds for about a day at a time, after whi
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review is chiefly for Soldier of Arete (my review of Soldier of the Mist can be found at this link).

It is quite clear that some game is being played by the gods and goddesses (something of a play of events, because throughout Latro's journey from Thrace, through Athens, to finally play at Sparta's games; a sort of "as above, so below" theme).

Especially so between the Daughter (Selene, Persephone, Artemis) and Mother (Demeter, Gaia). Yet with the ending of the book lays a question on if bot
Kylin Larsson
Jun 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: greek-research
After being wounded in a battle in ancient Greece (around 480 BCE), Latro sees Greek gods and goddesses in the landscape. Because of his head wound, Latro has short term memory loss and so he keeps a journal on a scroll that he is supposed to read every day to remind him what is going on in his life. The storytelling pace and voice bored me so much that I put the book down permanently after 75 pages or so.

The problem with the narration is that nearly the whole story is formed out of bits of dial
Sep 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ancient greek lovers, memento lovers, people who like to work to understand a book
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
alas. I wanted to give this book 5 stars. I really did. And for much of the book I thought I could at least spare 4. However, the ending....oh the ending.....completely disappointing. Maybe I just didn't "get it," but I was left completely unsatisfied at the last page. Gene Wolf does such interesting things with his books, and i really love them, but the end has to stand up to the story. I'm ok with endings that don't tie up all the strings in a neat little package, but I have to have SOMEthing ...more
Jon Burchett
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Fascinating book. It takes place in Roman times. Latro is a Roman mercenary who, after a head wound, cannot remember what happens day to day, so he keeps a journal and reads it each day to know who and where he is. On the other hand, he can now see and interact with the gods, many of whom are roaming the earth and involved in peoples' lives. It might help to have your old mythology book from college handy. Gene Wolfe is an amazing fantasy author, very unique and literary in his style. Not at all ...more
Joe Frisino
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As good a book as I've read in a very long time. Erudite and deeply researched. A soldier fighting in Greece in the year 479 BC receives a head injury. Afterward, each morning, upon waking, he discovers he's forgotten everything and everyone he ever knew. So each night before he sleeps he writes down the events of the day, and each morning reads the scroll to rediscover what little he and his companions have pieced together. As a result of his injury he also gained the ability to see and interac ...more
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Gene Wolfe Fans: Anyone read Latro in the Mist? 5 31 Oct 10, 2013 11:44AM  
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Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is 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 is 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 fict

Other books in the series

Latro (3 books)
  • Soldier of the Mist (Latro #1)
  • Soldier of Arete (Latro #2)
  • Soldier of Sidon (Latro #3)
“Then I could not help wondering what the watching gods thought of us, with our clever masks and our jokes. What we think of crickets, perhaps, whose singing we hear with pleasure, though some of us smash them with our heels when they venture into sight.” 18 likes
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