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on 1 January 1998
Until my roommate handed me Wolfe's four part "Book of the New Sun" I did not believe that I would ever come across another writer of Tolkien's caliber. From phylogenectically engineered destriers to the multiplicity of the autarch produced by an alzabo, Gene Wolfe has spun a tail that intricately incorporates elements of past and future, science and magic, English and the language of future Urth. Independent tales of an entirely different genre are woven into every fold and crease of Severian's journey. As I dismiss myself to go and usher in the new year, I leave these comments as a testimony to the best novel that I read in 1997.
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on 10 December 1998
Never short on vocabulary. The most enriching books I have read in the genre. Between the start of the first book and the end of the fourth their are half a dozen completely distinct short stories and a play.
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on 11 February 2010
This book, the second half of the quadrology which i bought serves as a brilliant end to the story of Severian. Recommend reading the first stories first though as alot of those are reference here.
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on 30 June 2014
I was a little critical of this series after reading Book One, The Shadow of the Torturer, and the Claw of the Conciliator, finding the narrative rather circumambulatory. But this is clarified in this, the second book, as the extraordinary true nature of Severian, the torturer, as narrator and the equally extraordinary true nature of the narrative is revealed. The quality of the writing, as before, is transcendent. Perhaps the most poetic I have come across in epic fantasy. You all too frequently are confronted by cover blurbs describing books as masterpieces only to discover they are not quite as advertised. But this book, and now the series, which actually amounts to four books in two volumes, really is a fantasy masterpiece. It would be very difficult to describe the plot in detail, since it really is circumambulatory and exceedingly complex, with pay on the meaning of time, morality, and universal cycles.

I won't spoil the discovery of its central theme for other readers but rather would strongly recommend that people read the series for themselves. I would place it up there with Lord of the Rings, but in this case a true fantasy classic aimed more at the adult reader.

It's so incredibly rich in narrative detail that I can see why some readers would want to read it through more than once to fully savour its delights.
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on 12 January 2012
This book along with it's other half (Shadow and Claw) is the nearest to perfect writing in this genre that I've ever read. As LOTR set the standard for fantasy filmaking this and its other half sets the standard for sci-fi writing.

Best sci-fi I've ever read

I have not judged this book on whether the plot was the most complex or surprising or best paced or most prophetic or because whether I agreed with its social satire or not etc. No, I have judged it simply on the experience while reading it.

It utterly absorbed me, pulled me right in , was just somehow very very satisfying (and all without neat plot tie ups or resolutions!) It was like reading my first sci-fi book, (which is odd, as I have read virtually nowt but sci-fi since I could first read,; must be going on for 50 yrs!)
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on 27 March 2015
A single page of Book of the New Sun is worth more than forty years of juvenile attempts by talenetless hacks in constructing what the world at large would call "a fantasy novel." Wolfe is prehaps the only fantasy writer since Tolkien to do it right, the only fantasty writer to have written literature. Good night.
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on 9 February 2015
Brilliant book, I still find myself revisiting it, over a month after I finished it. Lots of stuff going on behind the scenes that you can piece together if you concentrate, extremely rewarding, lucid prose, big bad Wolfe is truly one of the greatest writers alive today.
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on 10 February 2016
good read
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