A Critical Appreciation of James Enge

A Critical Appreciation of James Enge

thewolfageNo sooner does our man James Enge — World Fantasy Award-nominated author, Black Gate blogger, and international man of mystery — appear on the scene with his third novel The Wolf Age, than Western Civilization finally begins to acknowledge his genius. The latest accolades are courtesy of John H. Stevens at SF Signal:

Enge has described in his Black Gate interview how he “took a big hammer” and smashed away at Morlock to transform him from a “mopey Byronic wish-fulfillment self-image” into a more flawed character. He did this to a large extent to get away from what he saw as the “wish-fulfillment” in much of fantasy fiction. But after reading Enge’s work it is clear that he has continued hammering away at fantasy to bend it into spooky and unconventional shapes…

His third novel has a richer texture to its plot, and this makes it the most enjoyable, and in some ways the most profound, of his major works to date… There is a surer hand at work here, and a smoother progress in the story than in the first two novels.

Stevens links to much of the recent coverage of James, and includes what is already my favorite quote of the year, from an interview with James at Civilian Reader:

I like Zelazny’s description of his masterwork, the original Amber series: ‘a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity.’ That’s what I try to write: philorohorrmorbmance.

Sample chapters from The Wolf Age are available here.

The complete Critical Appreciation of James Enge is available here.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
C.S.E. Cooney

That’s so cool. I think I’ll just sit here a moment and critically appreciate James Enge. A lot.

Me appreciating critically:

Dum dee dum. Morlock!!!
La la la. Werewolves!!!
Doo-dee-doo… EFFIN AMBROSIA!
Mmn dum deeeee…

Yup. I’m terribly critical. And appreciative! But mostly the latter.

Jeff Stehman

And here I thought the drunken, twisted, curmudgeonly Morlock, who destroys the best laid plans just by wandering through, was wish fulfillment. It would certainly explain the wide-eyed terror of the author’s students.


I have recently found out how good james enge is with these morlock tales. I read Blood of Ambrose when it first came out and to be honest i didn’t care for it all that much. It wasn’t bad but certainly not as good as i had been hearing. For some reason i am not sure i bought “This Crooked Way” when it came out but never read it up till last week. I feel in love with that book.

This Crooked Way is so clear and vivid its like i’m watching Morlock the TV series. I devoured it in 3 days. only to rush out and buy The Wolf Age. I’m now 60 pages into the wolf age and loving every word of it. Maybe when i’m done i’ll have to go back and read blood of ambrose again…


I just finished The Wolf Age and loved it just as much if not more than This Crooked Way. The only now is i have to wait for the next morlock book…

[…] As a growing number of people rightly come to the conclusion that reading James Enge’s The Wolf Age will probably be the most fun they’ll have since the invention of soul-sucking swords and the new Olympian-approved “rubber grip” thunderbolts, Black Gate has been pelting to keep up with the praise. […]

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x