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The Sword of the Lictor (1981)
by Gene Wolfe (Author)
The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe (Author) (1981)
Starting to make a bit more sense, haha ( )
I enjoyed this a bit better than the previous two entries, because the science fiction element is finally brought forward a bit. Severian meets a remnant of Urth's past, meets some aliens, and learns more about the giant Baldanders and Dr Talos. On the downside, all this does introduce a pulp feeling to the latter half of the book. And yet again, of the three new women Severian meets, he sleeps with two of them, including disturbingly a slave woman still in chains. All consensual, but I'm finding that part tiresome.
Carping aside, still recommended.
Severian has arrived at the city of Thrax and taken up his duties as Lictor. He plays his part, he makes appearances when required to show the fist inside the not-so-velvet glove of Thrax's Archon, and he carries out his duties as torturer as required, But he is not happy; and neither is Dorcas, his travelling companion and paramour. They soon part ways, and Severian begins a journey to the north, to find his destiny.
The Gormenghastly detail of Wolfe's Urth is still there; but up until now, Severian was merely journeying, meeting with various people and having adventures interrupt his progress. But now he has struck out into the world on his own and he runs into extraordinary meetings on his way. There is more action in this volume than we have seen up to now; by the end of the book, Severian has encountered some old faces, he has embraced responsibilities, and suffered losses that will change his course.
This is possibly the most science fictional volume of the story so far; but Severian is only encountering the reality and the deep age of Urth. Once again, I found this an engaging read and I am looking forward to moving on to the final volume in the first part of Wolfe's Solar Cycle, The Citadel of the Autarch.
This was a good book but it did not capture me to the same extent as the first two volumes in The Book Of The New Sun. I found The Shadow Of The Torturer to be a fascinating introduction to this future culture and Severians place in it. The Claw Of The Conciliator also drew me in as Severian's relationships became more complicated and the world of The Urth became more expansive. In contrast, The Sword Of The Lictor is more of a single person Odyssey when Severian escapes the city of Thrax and travels mostly alone in his attempt to elude the city's soldiers. There are fascinating situations but their relationship to Urth and Severian are incredibly difficult to follow! But this does not detract from the narrative - it only makes the mystery deeper. So, it is a good book, but I miss the relationships and culture that Wolfe developed in the first two volumes. Having said that, the last section of the book with the lake people and Talos, Baldanders and the cacogens leaps forward very quickly. That part of the book is incredibly engaging.
So should you read it? Yes, it is well worth reading. Wolfe's prose is always enjoyable to read if rather dense. But I do feel like I am just barely glimpsing what is really going on. And I suspect that Wolfe wrote that way on person so that we were experiencing the same thing that Severian is experiencing not always understanding what is happening to him, what is going on around him, and the reasons for people's actions. of course I am going to read the the last volume, The Citadel of the Autarch! I gotta find out how this ends and what kind of person Severian really is. Is he a messiah? Is he a pawn? Is he good? Is he evil? Or is he all of these things at the same time? I suspect it is the latter.
Belongs to Series
Solar Cycle (3)
Belongs to Publisher Series
Folio SF (356)
Présence du futur (361)
Is contained in
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (indirect)
The Complete Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (indirect)
Has as a commentary on the text
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (2)
Severian flees his exile in search of his destiny, guided by the glowing power of a hidden, awesome weapon.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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