5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Tremendous mythical odyssey,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Book Of The New Sun: Volume 1: Shadow and Claw (Fantasy Masterworks): Shadow and Claw Vol 1 (Paperback)
Having been introduced to the book of the New Sun several years ago, it was great to be able to buy the series and re-read and re-read again! The story of Severian is one that gives you the feeling that you are only ever hearing a small part of it, and to me this only enhances the biblical nature of the book. On every reading I have discovered more connections and hidden meanings, and all this book has ever done is make me think, think, think !!
The language with its archaic and cabalistic vocabulary may appear daunting at the beginning, but truly this only adds to the colour of the story. Wolfe adds many anecdotes, fables etc. and again this adds to the impression that this book is not just a fantasy story but a collection of myths from the end of the world and the biased and all-too human story of a man, written by himself and cast into space-time ! This makes for a truly cosmic plot that links science, religion and myth. The amount of philosophy in the story is also terrific, giving the book a real literary and intelligent edge, something which a book from the same series (Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth) severely lacks. Severian is such a complex character ( if you read you will know why ! ) but he always suffers from human failings and is as much a true anti-hero as the likes of Elric. From this perspective The Book of the New Sun should be likened a lot more to Elric's story than to the LOTR. The overall impression left on me by this book is one of mystery and magic on a cosmic scale, and omissions (such as the fight at the wall and the identity of the mausoleum owner etc.)
only add to the mystery of the story. This is truly a masterful work of Sci-fi and of Literature. As a final word, the 5th book of the series, The Urth of the New Sun, although given mixed reviews, to me is a worthy sequel, adding spirituality to Severian's story, tying up loose ends and giving a more cosmic perspective.
If you are expecting another LOTR you are sure to be disappointed, but if a mysterious and sometimes mystifying read is what you are after this is it !