- Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz (28 Dec. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857987004
- ISBN-13: 978-1857987003
- Product Dimensions: 20 x 3.9 x 17.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 266,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Book of the New Sun: Volume 2: Sword and Citadel: Sword and Citadel Vol 2 (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 28 Dec 2000
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One of the most acclaimed "science fantasies" ever, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun (1980-83) is a long, magical novel in four volumes. Shadow and Claw contains the first two, The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator, which respectively won the World Fantasy and Nebula awards.
This is the first-person narrative of Severian the lowly apprentice torturer, blessed and cursed with a photographic memory, whose travels lead him through the marvels of far-future "Urth", and who--as revealed near the beginning--eventually becomes his land's sole ruler or Autarch. On the surface it's a colourful story with all the classic ingredients: growing up, adventure, sex, betrayal, murder, exile, battle, monsters and mysteries to be solved. (Only well into book two do we realise what saved Severian's life in chapter one.) For lovers of literary allusions, they're here in plenty: a Dickensian cemetery scene, a torture-engine from Kafka, a wonderful library out of Borges and familiar fables changed by aeons of retelling. Wolfe evokes a chilly sense of time's vastness, with an age-old, much restored painting of a golden-visored "knight" who is an astronaut standing on the Moon; an ancient citadel of metal towers which are grounded spacecraft. Even the Sun is senile and dying, and so Urth needs a New Sun.
The Book of the New Sun is almost heart-breakingly good, full of riches and subtleties that improve with each rereading. It is Gene Wolfe's masterpiece and strongly recommended. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Award winning quest of discovery through an Earth fantastically transformed by aeons of humanity.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Where all these writers failed Gene Wolfe, in his four part "Book of the New Sun" succeeded majestically. Although the book is in some senses clearly derivative of other SF works, most notably Jack Vance's "Dying Earth Series, Wolfe draws largely on classical history to and mythology to create and boundlessly vast world that is all the more mysterious and fascinating for the fact that it is almost as strange and new to Wolfe's hero, Severian, as it is to the reader.
Expelled from his place amongst the Guild of the Seekers for Truth and Penitence (commonly "The Torturers") Severian is obliged to travel on foot to his place of exile. The journey is his first time away from the citadel at the centre of the colossal but decaying metropolis Nessus (Rome, Contantinople?). The reader, therefore, has the chance to discover the world (Earth many millennia in the future) with the books protagonist. The result is a layering of reality not unlike that achieved by Ridley Scott in his early films, most notably Blade Runner. The universe of the story is not composed of a few truths and verities that are presented to reader as cast in stone. As in our own world room is left for varying shade of opinion and perception, distortion, half truths and half remembered truths.Read more ›
I think to try to tell here too much of the story would be to spoil the books to any who read them, and so i'll try not to.
The book, which contains the last two from the tetralogy "The Book of the Sun", that begun with "Shadow and Claw", tells the story of Severian, a boy raised on earth in a future so distant from us that the sun is but a dying star, all resources have been exausted ages ago, and our age is remembered by nothing but almost forgotten myths. The books are written as an autobiography, in which Severian tells us his adventures from a humble beginning in the long decaying Citadel of Nessus and his Guild, commonly known as the Torturers, and a future so strange he would never have imagined it. Along the way we get to discover the world in which he lives at the same pace he does, and to discover new mysteries faster than answers to them (as is usual).
This is one (or the best) books i've ever read, and i'm an ardent reader of science fiction and fantasy. I'm tempted to commit an heresy, and quite plainly state that i did enjoyed this book far more than i did The Lord of The Rings, although i love all Tolkien's books and have read most of them.Read more ›
On the downside, the sheer 'strangeness' of this future can be quite offputting, as can Wolfe's laboured use of language. While both of these factors are vital to the novel's structure, they do take a bit of getting used to...
This book is clearly one of the most underated stories ever, its very irritating to see shallow children's stories like Thr Lord of The Rings get all the attention while this masterpeice is un-heard of.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely loving this and so glad to have discovered it. Yes the language is different to the everyday - but why would it be the same as now when set so far in the future? Read morePublished 9 months ago by MrsMe
Books one and two of the Book of the New Sun. Excellent future dystopia novel, a must read.Published 10 months ago by Steve Lynch
Too dull, too complicated.
I came to this book from a list of the top-100 Sci-Fi books of all time so I admit to expecting something a bit special. Read more
I tried hard to like this. I gave up once, finding little of interest in the characters, but went back and tried again after seeing that it had a lot of 5 star ratings. Read morePublished on 1 Sept. 2014 by Archy
On the surface, this book should have become a favourite of mine - I'm a big fan of distant future epics (a la Silverberg or Vance) and the premise of a professional torturer as... Read morePublished on 7 Aug. 2014 by Andrea Bertuzzi
No way does this compare with Tolkien - I'm tempted to say it's not even on the same planet. The reviews rating this as 'the best fantasy book ever after Tolkien' and comparisons... Read morePublished on 13 Oct. 2013 by Damawyn Sue