From: "Tom Foster"
Subject: (urth) Re: 5HC a good introduction to wolfe? Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 17:10:55 +0100 I've been following the recent discussions of 5HC with a good deal of interest. My introduction to Wolfe was _The Shadow of the Torturer_ (the best possible introduction IMHO), which I came to via Jack Vance's _Dying Earth_ books. I read 5HC shortly afterwards, but had never returned to it since (many years having now elapsed). The recent discussions of it piqued my interest (it's one of the only 'major' Wolfe books that I had not read more than once) and I've been reading it for the past few days. I enjoyed it considerably more this time around, perhaps because when I first read it I was only around 15 and didn't understand/appreciate many of its qualities. I'm not sure that I would consider it an especially good introduction to Wolfe as it is convoluted even by his standards and requires a lot of thought and involvement from the reader. It also lacks a stong central character like Severian, Silk or Horn (or even Latro), the depiction of which is where Wolfe excels, I feel. I think that had it been my first Wolfe I would have enjoyed it but not particularly felt the need to seek out other works by him, whereas having read _Shadow_ I immediately wanted to find out what else this author had written. With regards to the issue of whether or not the abos possessed the ability to shape change, I am inclined to agree with those who feel that this was probably not the case. There are no instances in the book where we are positively told that a character has morphed into something else. Sandwalker *seems* to become an otter (though this is only part of a story written by VRT(?) anyhow), VRT assumes John V Marsch's identity but still looks younger than him, VRT's mother could make herself look older by doing certain things, etc, but nothing concrete. I thought it was interesting to note the apparent similarities between the inhumi and the abos. There is a mention of an abo looking like a piece of "old wood", compared to the liana staff of Silkhorn (and indeed the liana itself shows up again in 'A Story'). Also, the ability to shapeshift, which the inhumi certainly possess in comparison to the abos' rumoured ability. Anyway, thanks to the group for inspiring me to re-read 5HC and also to Robert Borski for his useful insights at Cave Canem. Tom --