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A Critical Appreciation of James Enge

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 | Posted by John ONeill

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.


  1. 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.

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - January 28, 2011 12:45 am

  2. 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.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - January 28, 2011 11:57 am

  3. 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…

    Comment by Glenn - January 28, 2011 7:49 pm

  4. C.S.E,

    I should have known that any appreciation from you would involve song lyrics! :)

    Comment by John ONeill - January 29, 2011 7:39 pm

  5. Jeff,

    Well said, my friend. I wish I’d said that. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - January 29, 2011 7:40 pm

  6. Glenn,

    Glad to hear you have THIS CROOKED WAY a chance! And that it paid off so well for you.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 29, 2011 7:40 pm

  7. 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…

    Comment by Glenn - January 31, 2011 10:08 pm

  8. Excellent, Glen! My son grabbed my copy, and started reading it last week (and promptly told me, “Hey, Dad. The author mentions someone with the same new as you in the Acknowlegdments. And your buddy Howard Jones, too.”) Kids today.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 31, 2011 11:28 pm

  9. […] 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. […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Locus Magazine Recommends The Wolf Age - February 3, 2011 4:24 pm

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