Soldier of Sidon

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Author: Gene Wolfe
Barcode/ISBN13: 9780765355881
ISBN: 0765355884
Imprint/Brand: Tor
Release Date: Mar 2010
Format: A Paperback
Series: Latro 03
Price in AUD: $10.00
Categories: Fantasy
Book

Latro forgets everything when he sleeps. Writing down his experiences every day and reading his journal anew each morning gives him a poignantly tenuous hold on the world and his own identity.

Latro finds himself in Egypt, a land of singing girls, of spiteful and conniving deities. Without his memory, his is unsure of everything, except for his desire to be free of the curse that causes him to forget. The visions Gene Wolfe conjures--of the wonders of Egypt, and of the adventures of Latro as he and his companions journey up the great Nile south into legendary territory--are unique and compelling.

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Review by Tim:

This is the third of the Latro books I have read and loved. These are unusual novels in that there is almost no plot, they are all about characters. Wolfe writes a his lead character, Latro (one of several names), as an insightful, ethical, strong, quiet and mature man. Much as Wolfe's lead characters in his New Sun, Long Sun and Short Sun series. Latro deals with each day as it comes and the situations and relationships in which he finds himself with a freshness sourced in amnesia. His memory is erased with each night's sleep, presumably caused by a old head wound received as a soldier.
We read Latro's diary, which his companions encourage him to maintain.
Most novels have scene setting, building tension, exciting climaxes and explanations tidying up plot threads. This is reversed. If Latro has an exciting day he probably does not get the chance to write in his diary. We read of preparations and aftermaths but miss the exciting scenes of battles, escapes, successes and adventures. However, much can be inferred about a man's past by his present.
Latro probably was a Roman Centurion who fought in Greece. This book covers a journey undertaken south up the Nile River. His loss of memory is countered by gaining sight of the supernatural. He sees and converses with the gods, demons and their servants of mainly Egypt mythology. Unlike most modern urban fantasy, this is dealt with as spirituality not some special power. Latro is respected by his companions, and the reader, for this gift of insight.
Wolfe's skill with language is impressive. His succeeds with his ambitious ideas. This is all style over story, a gentle slow read, a book to fall asleep to. It had me as the reader wanting to transform into Latro and forget myself too. So relaxing. I loved it.