The Book Of The New Sun

by Gene Wolfe

4 avg rating
Book 19 of 72 in the Best Science Fiction Series
112 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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Jojo | 2016-02-01 08:57:50
Loved the New Sun, Long Sun
anth | 2016-04-29 12:05:00
im up to the stage in the first book where he has had to leave his order. honestly i am only pushing through because this is ranked so highly on the list. its a delicately beautiful style of writing but nothing has happened page after page and im still wading through what feels like the opening pages of a fantasy novel, sorry, a medieval fantasy with out the 'farm boy discovers hes magical' climax.
anth | 2016-04-30 12:55:17
nope. cant, im done.
BRM | 2017-01-06 04:18:11
The writing is eloquent. The story sucks. Just sucks. Please remove this fantasy story from your supposed sci fi list.
Anonymous | 2017-03-20 11:21:10
There are some fantastic ideas in this series (the 4 books of the New Sun) but it is hard, hard work. Is it worth it? I am not sure. Would I read it again? Not in a hurry! It's not the storyline, which just follows a single character, unlike the Wheel of Time, for example, it's just that so much is unexplained, and adventures, episodes, or characters occur that aren't obviously relevant to the storyline, and the style makes it difficult to follow. An example: the lead, Severian, meets a character (in a room that is disguised as a painting) and some dialogue occurs. In the last sentence or paragraph of the section it is revealed Severian has realised this person is the emperor, yet nothing in the proceeding pages gives any clue that this is the case, or how the lead has figured it out. Maybe I just missed it! It's like an imperfect or forgetful narrator walking you through an Illiad-esque fantasy. I suppose you could try just going with the flow, but I found it too frustrating to try the next set of books.
Anonymous | 2017-04-29 02:06:14
I agree that the first half of Shadow of the Torturer was pretty difficult to get through, but the second half not only was amazing itself, but it also made the first half much more interesting in retrospect. There is indeed, a lot of information provided through subtle clues, and it is hard to know what's going on some of the time, but the latter part of the book gives much more clear info (though still not crystal), and in such a way as to give an entirely different perspective on what has transpired earllier. In fact, by the end of the book, I had a strong desire to reread the beginning because so much of it would make much more sense with the the newly acquired info. Indeed, I've heard it recommended that Gene Wolfe books often benefit greatly from re-reads. I did not go back and reread it because I was simultaneously pumped about moving on to the next one, but I will likely go back to it as soon as I've finished the series.
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