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Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book…

Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun' (edition 1994)

by Gene Wolfe

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2,896412,954 (4.13)174
Title:Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun'
Authors:Gene Wolfe
Info:Orb Books (1994), Edition: 5th, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:from amazon

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Shadow & Claw: The First Half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Recently added bymrklingon, booksngames, draecas, Lostshadows, driko, bookstopshere, HedBibl, niallh, private library
  1. 20
    Lexicon Urthus by Michael Andre-Driussi (Cecrow)
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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
The classic story of a young man journey from the only home he’s known and finding himself interacting with the strange wider world. Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe is the omnibus collection of the first two volumes of The Book of the New Sun tetralogy, The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator, following the life of the guild of torturer journeyman Severian.

The Shadow of the Torturer follows the last year of Severian’s life in The Citadel of Nessus and his few days after leaving into exile after breaking the greatest rule of the guild of torturers. Severian finds himself challenged to a duel and explores greater Nessus in preparation while coming into contacting with numerous interesting characters. The Claw of the Conciliator picks up a bit after the previous book with Severian performing his duties in a small mining town before going on a series of journeys going to the seat of government the House Absolute and leaving, all the while trying to figure out everything he’s involved in while trying not to dishonor his guild once again.

The first volume of the book, Shadow, was very intriguing and while somethings were clear—as might have been the plan—there was enough there to make me look forward to continuing on Severian’s journey. However the second volume, Claw, was all over the place with quality, interest, and frustration as one the main problems from the first volume, namely the first-person narration by Severian was all over the place. Add in an entire chapter that described a line-by-line recreation of a nonsensical play just to setup an attack by one of the characters on the audience in the next, much short chapter just added to my dislike of this particular volume.

I had high hopes for Shadow & Claw given that it was the first half of what is considered a classic tetralogy by Gene Wolfe. While I did like the first volume of the omnibus, the second one has made me wonder why this is considered a fantasy-science fiction classic by many.

The Shadow of the Torturer (3.5/5)
The Claw of the Conciliator (2/5) ( )
1 vote mattries37315 | Feb 27, 2019 |
Fantastical sci-fi. The painting of the future world as one that is drenched in legends and vagueness as opposed to scientific precision is refreshing.

It's a shame about the blatant objectification of women from the main character's point of view. I wonder if this is a fault of Gene Wolfe or of the character, but I haven't read much by Wolfe that treats women as main characters. It would have been 4 stars otherwise. ( )
  simonspacecadet | Jul 29, 2018 |
I would have rated this higher if BOTH books hadn't ended so abruptly. Perhaps I'll upgrade it after a re-read. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Elegant and haunting prose. The narrative is kind of surreal and slow paced with no linear time. It made me pause and reflect and reread a lot of times. The narrator Severian is a torturer who has to leave his guild because he falls in love with one of his clients and eventually helps her commit suicide to escape weeks of torture. From then on we follow severian’s adventures and dreams as he meets a mysterious troupe, accidentally resurrects a girl and participates in a cannibalistic ritual. We learn more of the world as severian learns it.

Great world building. Set in the backdrop of a dying sun and a green moon. On Urth which is Earth long into the future, we see the remnants of a once technologically advanced society.

Characterisation is detailed and complex. Mainly severian. He’s been brought up as a torturer and most of the times he goes through the world and events with complete indifference. And yet he also cares for a lot of people. Also at one point in the book, he refers to himself as being mad. So i’m not really sure regarding some events if they really happened or if they are just his fantasies.

The world is imaginative and interesting and i would be happy to spend more time in it. ( )
  kasyapa | Oct 9, 2017 |
Perhaps I should not tell it, but I lifted my sword to Heaven then, to the diminished sun with the worm in his heart; and I called, “His life for mine, New Sun, by your anger and my hope!”

—The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe

I do not shrink from difficult prose. In fact, I seek it out. There are certain titles I plan on getting to, far in the future, sometime when I’ve gotten a tummy ache on confectionary fiction and need to equalize the pH with more savory fare. “Finnegan’s Wake”, “2666”, “War and Peace”, “The 120 Days of Sodom”—the list shall never end . . . well, until I end. However, that list is part of an invisible canon, I’d suspect, of any serious bibliophile the Western world over. “In Search of Lost Time” indeed; who’s got time for seven volumes of growing up in France? Without swords, that is. And that reminds me. Swords.

I’d read the first volume to “The Book of the New Sun” nearly twenty years ago. It didn’t grab me like I’d hoped, obviously, else I’d have finished the damn thing. But now that I’m on the second part, I can’t help think that maybe I was unprepared for a work of fantasy to be so challenging. Tolkien may have invented who-gives-a-shit-how-many-Elvish-languages, drew maps of worlds of Middle-earth to rival those from the Renaissance, and penned prose as purple and yawn-inducing as Henry James. Yet, once I sifted the nuggets from the scree, his works were largely accessible. Not so with Gene Wolfe. “The Claw of the Conciliator” is fucking hard. I mean, I’m looking up at least one word a page—sometimes four. Fuligin, carnifex, baluchither, thylacodon, hipparch—enough red squiggly underlines in a Word document to fool one into believing he suffered from macular degeneration. And it’s not just the lexicon you’ll scrape together to get through it (there actually IS one: “Lexicon Urthus”—no shit), but the sheer amount of omitted backstory, just dumping a poor soul in this far-flung world to wade through the waters and verbiage and huge cast of characters, makes one almost feel as if his compass were useless being that close to the magnet factory. Wolfe assumes the reader is intelligent and doesn’t spoon feed, explicate or even bother with neologisms. Swear to God, every word I’ve had to look up is either archaic, Latin or dug out of some layer in the earth only discovered once the quake ended, dislodging cities and forcing up defunct tongues on fresh mantle.

It’s exhausting. I’m taking it in pieces. Like it probably should be. And I’m being rewarded with beauty. For all that esoterica I’m finding complex souls, missions problematic and unexpected, countries divulged and summarily drowned in blood, magic and ritual. I’m not yet sure if it’s great or just greatly impressive. But its power is undeniable. And it sure as shit wrings the neck on anything a fantasy serial with feathers has presented, chicken-hearted hops in the farmyard, thus far. At least in my experience.

And what he doesn’t tell or show is a hovering shadow with more density than the average immersive fantasy author’s entire oeuvre. I can’t wait to sink my head back into this tar pit ( )
  ToddSherman | Aug 24, 2017 |
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A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
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It is possible I already had some presentiment of my future.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312890176, Paperback)

One of the most acclaimed "science fantasies" ever, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is a long, magical novel in four volumes. Shadow & 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, a 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 colorful story with all the classic ingredients: growing up, adventure, sex, betrayal, murder, exile, battle, monsters, and mysteries to be solved. (Only well into book 2 do we realize what saved Severian's life in chapter 1.) For lovers of literary allusions, they are plenty here: a Dickensian cemetery scene, a torture-engine from Kafka, a wonderful library out of Borges, and familiar fables changed by eons of retelling. Wolfe evokes a chilly sense of time's vastness, with an age-old, much-restored painting of a golden-visored "knight," really an astronaut standing on the moon, and an ancient citadel of metal towers, actually grounded spacecraft. Even the sun is senile and dying, and so Urth needs a new sun.

The Book of the New Sun is almost heartbreakingly good, full of riches and subtleties that improve with each rereading. It is Gene Wolfe's masterpiece. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Received as a science fiction masterpiece. This volume contains the first 2 books in a 4 book series. The Shadow of the torturer and The claw of the Conciliator (Both NIS)

(summary from another edition)

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