After seeing literally dozens of reviews for this novella, I had to see for myself what was going on here… I’d read only one other story from Wilson previously, and it didn’t blow me away – but this – this was great.
A few of the reviews I’d seen criticized the style as being opaque and/or confusing. I didn’t find it so at all. On the contrary, it was much more straightforward than the other story I’d read (‘The Devil in America.’) Sure, there’s a gradual reveal of information which adds depth to the scenario – but that’s kind of the point.
The ‘Sorcerer’ is Demane, a young man who’s been hired to be one of a number of caravan guards, accompanying a group of merchants through the dangerous wilderness known as the Wildeeps. ‘Sorcerer’ is the nickname he’s earned for his seemingly-magical knowledge and abilities. Although he’s a brawny fighter, healing is where he really excels. From the start, it’s clear that Demane hails from what we would call a much more progressive and egalitarian society than his fellow guards. But although the ignorance and savagery that he is faced with on a daily basis often disgusts and depresses him, he has a deep respect for the Captain of his crew.
Unsurprisingly, the caravan’s owner ignores warnings in favor of profits, and heads into the Wildeeps. As the story progresses, we learn more of Demane’s past, and the truth about his background.
The finale is both action-packed and heartbreaking. I fail to see how anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, surrounded by the ignorant masses, could not love this story. If you’ve ever thought you’ve found the one person who could understand you…
In addition, the world introduced here is wholly intriguing. I’d love to learn more!!!
March 2016: Nominated for Hugo.