Book Of The New Sun

by Gene Wolfe

4 avg rating
Book 18 of 91 in the Books That Will Blow Your Mind
110 votes 6 comments
The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe's most remarkable work, hailed as "a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis" by Publishers Weekly, and "one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century" by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Shadow & Claw brings together the first two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession -- showing mercy toward his victim.

Ursula K. Le Guin said, "Magic stuff . . . a masterpiece . . . the best science fiction I've read in years!"

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

"Arguably the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced [is] the four-volume Book of the New Sun."--Chicago Sun-Times

"The Book of the New Sun establishes his preeminence, pure and simple. . . . The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within . . . once into it, there is no stopping."--The New York Times Book Review

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Anonymous | 2013-10-29 01:13:51
Great series. Very definitely not written by Steven King!
Anonymous | 2013-12-02 10:07:52
This is a horrible book. It has some good prose and some strong scenarios/environments, but as a whole it fails very hard, especially at presenting its narrative and female characters. Superficial depth, not worth the bother. This is no "Fantasy's Kafka" or "Fantasy's Calvino."
Adnihil | 2013-12-20 11:41:20
It is one of the best stories I've ever read. You have to read all 5 books to really appreciate it. Some of the writing is really poetic. A lot of the insights are casually profound. The actual plot is often straight-forward, cyclical and transitory at the same time. I've heard people complain like this fellow did about the depth of the characters. To me it feels like if these people aren't having an inner dialogue recited to them they don't feel the humanity of a character. You don't have to read their thoughts for the characters to have depth. I don't need someone to tell me "He thought long and hard, soul searched and felt both upset and thankful." To me it works just as well to say "He looked down smiling with a sadness in his eyes." I had a conversation saying "You can draw all these thoughts and feelings out from the gestures he's making or how he acts. How he stalls before a blow or what he does infers an inner dialogue." "No that's you inferring what you want from the story. Not having a good story actually written." No. It's written there. You just have to be able to pick up on it. That's more or less what happens. A recitation of events. He didn't have the capability to get inside everyone's head and he often only tells what he's thinking in the present, not what he thought in the past because he's not in the past thinking. He's only retelling the actions of the past.
Anonymous | 2014-03-28 12:12:51
Great series! The fight with the alzabo was creepy good
Anonymous | 2014-07-29 03:24:20
Most of Gene Wolfes books seem "meta-stories" - the way they are written is crucial to the story. If I remember correctly Severian can never forget, so he tells his story all jumbled, since all things are equally top of mind to him. Also he lies. In the excellent Soldier-series Latro forgets everything he knows each day, and the story is his diary to try to keep his life together despite this extrem handicap. Wolfe is a genius and I can only imagine how much work it takes to write his books. Most of the story must be puzzled out by the reader by taking into account how and why the protagonist delivers the information written.
Anonymous | 2015-04-20 03:57:47
One of the most literary works of science fiction. I rate it on par with Dune for its dramatic scope and imagery. Severin's unreliable narrative leaves us wondering which events were "true" and which he has coloured to improve his legacy, and it takes re-reading the series at least once to catch the nuances.
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