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Sword and Citadel: The Second Half of the Book of the New Sun (edition 1994)

by Gene Wolfe

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1,786193,932 (4.38)26
Member:tillwe
Title:Sword and Citadel: The Second Half of the Book of the New Sun
Authors:Gene Wolfe
Info:Tor Books (1994), Paperback, 411 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:sf-regal

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Sword & Citadel: The Second Half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

  1. 40
    Lexicon Urthus by Michael Andre-Driussi (AmySR)
    AmySR: There are maps, charts, time lines, and a few pictures. Best of all there are definitions for all those archaic words! I didn't regret purchasing this book one bit.
  2. 10
    Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: "The composition of a novel in the first person, whose narrator would omit or disfigure the facts and indulge in various contradictions which would permit a few readers - very few readers - to perceive an atrocious or banal reality."
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The final two volumes in Wolfe's masterwork where we continue to follow Severian on his travels across the Urth under the baleful glare of the dying sun. Finally reaching the northern city of Thrax, he finds himself uncomfortable in the role of Lictor and once again shows mercy to a prisoner and goes on the run from the authorities, heading ever north towards the distant war zone.

Wolfe's depiction of this strange, ailing planet is one of the great achievements of fantastic fiction. Science and superstition mingle with edged weaponry and energy weapons. Society is held in stasis, barely above the level of barbarism, as the world awaits the arrival of the 'New Sun', although no one is ever quite clear exactly what or who that might be. For Severian it is the return of the Conciliator, a mythical figure who carried a jewel called The Claw. That jewel is still in Severian's possession and he struggles to understand its powers. Can it heal the sick and raise the dead, as it seems to have done so in the past, or is it a power already within Severian himself?

Things are never straightforward in this world, and again a cast of characters appear, disappear and reappear as Severian moves inexorably towards his destiny. Wolfe's prose might seem funereally paced to some, but you really have to let yourself be immersed in it. His depiction of the war is truly horrifying, as the enemy, brainwashed and seemingly vast in number, battle the forces of The Autarch.

Wolfe, within this story, comments on everything from the nature of power, memory and war, to love, duty and religion.

Taken as a whole, the four Volumes of the Book of the New Sun are one of the crowning achievements of Fantasy fiction and I would recommend them to anyone who loves fantasy. They may not be to everyone's taste, but persevere and they will stay with you. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
A surprisingly well written story, a little disconcerting; you will have to make your intelligence work, because the author doesn't give you all the keys.
I regret that he looses himself sometimes and the story could have been tighter, but it's near perfect; you can identify easily with the hero.
Imagination at its best. ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
So, I read this book mostly out of a completionist impulse rather than any strong drive to actually read the thing. Clever, creating a 2-volume omnibus edition.

I guess The Book of the New Sun is a classic. Do I see good things in it? Yes... there are dozens of wonderful ideas in this series. Interesting twists, fascinating mythos.... And the concept of the autarch (and who and what that is...)? Very cool.

Yet this book never grabbed me. While there are riveting concepts here, the writing is so utterly flat to me. I am honestly bewildered how so much wonderfulness can be so, well... boring.

Aside from a writing style I didn't exactly fall into, I struggled with the absence of plot. Like a roughly-connected series of DnD adventures featuring cool min/max characters, Severian just moves from adventure to adventure, gaining the occasional clue, an item here or there, and bits of experience. He gets progressively awesome with his sword (too much xp for each adventure!), and quickly seems immune to most human weaknesses (even when he's near death he's still pretty snappy). Bits of character development are still flat. A more emotive story-teller could have really put some zing in these books.

Still, it gets 3 stars. It was okay. I'm glad to move on, though. ( )
  ThePortPorts | Oct 25, 2014 |
I've reviewed these separately at FanLit. http://www.fantasyliterature.com/fantasy-author/wolfegene ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
I found myself getting more and more drawn into this complex and strange book. ( )
  robinamelia | Apr 12, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Into the distance disappear the mounds of human heads.
I dwindle-go unnoticed now.
But in affectionate books, in children's games,
I will rise from the dead to say: the sun! - Osip Mandelstam
Dedication
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"It was in my hair, Severian," Dorcas said.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312890184, Paperback)

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. Sword & Citadel brings together the final two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Sword of the Lictor is the third volume in Wolfe's remarkable epic, chronicling the odyssey of the wandering pilgrim called Severian, driven by a powerful and unfathomable destiny, as he carries out a dark mission far from his home.

The Citadel of the Autarch brings The Book of the New Sun to its harrowing conclusion, as Severian clashes in a final reckoning with the dread Autarch, fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will forever alter the realm known as Urth.

"Brilliant . . . terrific . . . a fantasy so epic it beggars the mind. An extraordinary work of art!"-Philadelphia Inquirer

"The Book of the New Sun establishes [Wolfe's] 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:34 -0400)

"The Citadel of the Autarch brings The Book of the New sun to its harrowing conclusion, as Severiain clashes in a final reckoning with the dread Autarch, fulfilling an ancient prophesy that will alter forever the realm known as Urth."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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