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The Sorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe
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The Sorcerer's House (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Gene Wolfe

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3441748,133 (3.77)20
Member:chrisloganedwards
Title:The Sorcerer's House
Authors:Gene Wolfe
Info:Tor Books (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 304 pages
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The Sorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe (2010)

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    Elfland by Freda Warrington (majkia)
    majkia: another interesting interpretation of the supernatural and how it might affect normal human beings.
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» See also 20 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This is an odd read - both because it's an epistolary novel, and because it's telling a very odd story. I strongly suspect it's a love it or hate it novel. I quite liked it! ( )
  hopeevey | May 19, 2018 |
I was very interested to read this book as Neil Gaiman had mentioned he was reading it. As I enjoy what Mr. Gaiman writes, I hoped I would enjoy something he was reading. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

The narrative was through letters between the characters describing what had happened and the views of those not involved directly. The twists and turns the storyline took upon itself didn't add false directions but rather seemed to make the story drag on longer than it needed to. ( )
  oraclejenn | Dec 15, 2015 |
Sraightforwardly readable for a Wolfe novel, but still has plenty of little tricks and ambiguities going on. I enjoyed it more than some of his other recent non-series novels. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
In this epistolary novel, Baxter Dunn has just gotten out of jail and describes his activities to his brother. He decides to squat in a house, and then finds out that he now owns the house. The house keeps getting bigger the more he explores, and more and more strange things keep happening.

Baxter's unquestioning acceptance of all of this drove me utterly batty. He just describes crazy things happening, like suddenly finding out that a stranger has left a house to him, or waking up in the middle of the night to find a sexy naked woman in his bed, or finding a dismembered leg on his porch... He expresses hardly any surprise, never questions his own sanity (even though he knows his brother will think he's crazy), never seems to fear for his life - he just describes all of these events as if they were mundane and normal.

Don't even get me started on the female characters. They are all totally flat and all totally adore Bax for no apparent reason as soon as they meet him.

But what really makes the book disappointing is that there doesn't seem to be any point. There's no "moral of the story," no interesting philosophical dilemma. There were lots of opportunities for unreliable narrator themes, but these were left unexplored. It's just a bunch of stuff that happened, and that's all.

From reading other reviews, it seems like I missed something really profound here, and maybe I took everything way too literally. But I can't find a metaphorical/allegorical reading that lends any further dimensions or interest to this book. ( )
  Gwendydd | Dec 23, 2014 |
I picked this up to read a couple of chapters, and ended up staying up to finish it. It's deceptively simple to read, to just race through: epistolary novel, check; unreliable narrator, check; creepy twins and doors to Faerie, check. It's Gene Wolfe, though, so you can bet it's not as simple as that, and reading other reviews -- particularly Neil Gaiman's, to whom the book is dedicated -- showed me I missed a few tricks. Which is fine: I like books with rereadability, even if I'm not really inclined to reread this one in particular. If you can craft a book so it reveals more of itself over time, that's good going, in my books.

Obviously, everything I said about the narration is true. It is an epistolary novel, with a central character who has a very distinct character-set. He can turn his life story around so that you pity him or hate him, cast him as the villain or pity him as one who has been cast in that role, and I think that's entirely intentional. It's not that he's unintentionally creepy. I actually found the character to be more so than the supernatural events around him -- a certain lack of affect, the feeling that something's come loose inside this guy.

I'm not overwhelmed with the treatment of women in this book -- every woman wants to sleep with Our Hero, for example, and quickly opens up to him, and I don't see why. He's not charming, he's unsettling. But maybe that's because we see him through his own report of himself to his brother... I don't know. I'm not a fan, anyway. Even if it works for the character, I could have done with a female character who really stood out.

I do think the narration is very clever, the way Wolfe makes the epistolary novel work for him, and works around situations where there might be some difficulty with the form in a way that... well, it seems contrived, but it also fits the world and characters.

Worth a try, I think, though I probably agree with other reviewers that it's not Gene Wolfe's best. ( )
  shanaqui | Nov 23, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gene Wolfeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Neil Gaiman, the best of writers and the best of friends.
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Dear Shell: I promised I would write you after I got out, and I like to keep my word.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In a contemporary town in the American Midwest where he has no connections, an educated man recently released from prison is staying in a motel. He writes letters to his brother and to others, including a friend still in jail. When he meets a real estate agent who tells him he is the heir to a huge old house, long empty, he moves in, though he is too broke to even buy furniture, and is immediately confronted by supernatural and fantastic creatures and events. His life is utterly transformed and we read on, because we must know more. We revise our opinions of him, and of others, with each letter. We learn things about magic, and another world, and about the sorcerer Mr. Black, who originally inhabited the house. And then perhaps we read it again.
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The new Gene Wolfe fantasy novel is told entirely in a series of letters. Only Wolfe could have made this so gripping, a surprising page-turner of a book. In a contemporary town in the American midwest where he has no connections, an educated man recently released from prison is staying in a motel. He writes letters to his brother and to others, including a friend still in jail. When he meets a real estate agent who tells him he is the heir to a huge old house, long empty, he moves in, though he is too broke even to buy furniture. He is immediately confronted by supernatural and fantastic creatures and events. His life is utterly transformed. We read on, because we must know more and we revise our opinions of him, and of others, with each letter. We learn things about magic, and another world, and about the sorcerer Mr. Black who originally inhabited the house. And then, perhaps, we read it again.… (more)

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