The Shadow of the Torturer: Urth: Book of the New Sun Book 1

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Its taking considerable effort. Link Reply Thread. I found they left me totally cold - apart from the odd truly nauseating bit - until I read 'The Urth of the New Sun' which is a bit of a primer where Wolfe explains most of the references that you were meant to get without being told. That book I liked! He must be getting soft in his old age. Anonymous Aug.

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Saw this link on Library Thing isn't it awsome? The reader isn't given all of the history and religion lessons etc. Rather, Severian's story is episodic and seems like it's meandering lazily, taking regular scenic detours, as if there's nowhere to go and plenty of time to get there. Because the story isn't a straight narrative, we don't understand the purpose or meaning of everything Severian relates — we have to patch it together as we go. By the end of the book, we're still clueless about most of it and we're starting to realize that Severian is kind of clueless, too.

  • Ihre Vorteile.
  • The Shadow of the Torturer eBook by Gene Wolfe - | Rakuten Kobo;
  • La fille qui rit (Dune seule voix) (French Edition).

Much of the power of this novel comes from the sense that there is world-building and symbolism on a massive scale here, but that explanations and revelations for the reader would just cheapen it and remove the pleasure that comes from the experience of discovery. In addition to being unique in style, The Shadow of the Torturer is a gorgeous piece of work: passionate storytelling heart-wrenching in places , fascinating insights into nature and the human condition, beautiful prose: Perhaps when night closes our eyes there is less order than we believe.

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Perhaps, indeed, it is this lack of order we perceive as darkness, a randomization of the waves of energy like a sea , the fields of energy like a farm that appear to our deluded eyes — set by light in an order of which they themselves are incapable — to be the real world. I enjoyed every moment of The Shadow of the Torturer. I love the oddness, originality, and challenge of it, the way that events I knew I saw coming didn't happen, and the unsettling sense that there's way more going on here than I'm being explicitly told and that it will probably take several readings to fully if possible uncover it.

This story is deeply emotional and introspective and, as usual, Mr. Davis's performance is perfection.


View all 6 comments. Apr 17, Jean-marcel rated it really liked it. I'm really drawn to decadent, crumbling civilisations in literature, especially those of the far distant future. Those who know my tastes know how much I love Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" books, set in a world where the days of the starfaring and ambitious aims of humanity have long dwindled away and in fact the sun itself has ceased to be the warming, welcome beacon it once was but has grown feeble and weak over millions of years. Let's ignore the fact that human life would probably have long I'm really drawn to decadent, crumbling civilisations in literature, especially those of the far distant future.

Let's ignore the fact that human life would probably have long expired on Earth at least before the sun has reached this stage of decay, because the theme is a great one, allowing for plenty of doom, atmosphere and pathos as humanity seems to eke out its final days in a state somewhere between resignation and madness. Vance wasn't the first to cover this sort of ground: Clark Ashton Smith did it some twenty years earlier in his stories of Zothique, the last surviving continent on a world covered with water and living under the baleful light of a cold sun, and way back in William Hope Hodgson wrote the strange and near-impenetrable "The Night Land", about a sprawling metal construct that sheltered the last bastion of humanity from the creatures and blights of the dying Earth.

I can now add Gene Wolf to this list of purveyors of gloom and atmosphere, those soothsayers of the far distant future who grant us a vision of a world where there's no sudden cataclysmic apocalypse, but instead a grim and inevitable decline into stagnation and decay, where the crumbling cities of man are a testament to the glory of a race who's time has seemingly passed.

This first novel depicts Severian as a youth, brought up in the Guild of the Torturers from the time of his birth and learned in the arts of pain, which his guild exercises at the behest of the Autarch, some kind of monarch exulted with near-divine reverence by the people. There is little background given as to the structure of Urth Earth society, but there are plenty of hints, and I expect more will be revealed later in the series. Early on we're led to understand that there is political unrest in the Citadel, and the autarch and his chief advisor are attempting to quell the former's principal enemy by abducting the sister of his consort and ensconcing her within the Oubliette of the Torturers, where she will be excruciated and slowly killed unless her sibling betrays her lover.

Severian is assigned to bring the imprisoned woman food and books, and also to provide her with some company, perhaps to create false hope in her until the order arrives for her torture to begin. Severian, young and inexperienced, is very much overwhelmed by the woman's haughty self-possession and beauty, and the two develop a strange rapport.

When the prisoner is subjected to a macabre device which will cause her to go slowly mad with self-hatred until she pulls out her own eyes and throttles herself, Severian smuggles a kitchen knife into her cell so she may suicide and be granted a mercyful death.

This is a heinous crime for a member of the Guild, so Severian, after readily confessing to his masters, is banished from the Citadel in disgrace and ordered to a small rural outpost where he will be Carnifex and guild representative, a thankless task since he is likely to be hated by everyone. The rest of the novel details the first part of his journey to the town of Thrax, his meeting of two strange women who are not all they seem and a sojourn in the hallucinatory, bizarre Botanical Gardens, where duelists pick poisonous, writhing alien plants with stems as long as maces which they use to fight one another in single combat.

I loved this book. At first, I was expecting something along the lines of Jack Vance, and while Wolf is a fantastic craftsman of prose, his dialogue does not sparkle as Vance's does and the humour and sardonic wit that is a staple of Vance's writing is not here. Wolf is a much subtler writer, perhaps just as talented, and he has fleshed out his own "dying Earth" with exquisite detail that definitely rivals Vance for strangeness and atmosphere.

The novel is told in the first person, from Severian's point of view, and he is a fascinating character for many reasons.

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He has an eidetic memory, it seems, and can recall events from years past with absolute tnd total clarity. There's one problem here, though, as early on he admits that to some degree he is probably insane and that even though his memory is near-perfect, he can't quite be sure if the events he remembers really happened or whether his own mind has modified them in some way. His narrative is occasionally disorienting because there are times when things simply don't seem to add up, he glosses over details that the reader might feel are important, or references people or events that suddenly seem important to the story which happened pages and pages back that the reader has forgotten.

Conversely, he tantalisingly hints at future events he tells the story as though it were a memoir, writing it from a possibly much older perspective but doesn't really break up his narrative to explain them, so the reader is constantly wondering in exactly what manner Severian's circumstances seem to have changed so much.

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It's definitely a fine way of hooking us in and certainly worked for me as I've already nearly finished book two, "Claw of the Conciliator". There is also a really bizarre dream sequence within a dream sequence, and while I love this sort of halucinatory writing I suppose it might be off-putting to some. Wolf is the sort of author who leaves the reader with a lot of work to do in deciphering meanings and motive.

There's a lot of obscure terminology here, although Wolf won't have you reaching for your dictionary as often as Vance might, and a great deal of latin. I am a little puzzled as to why he uses so many Latin terms, even though he includes an unnecessary appendix at the end of the novel explaining that the book is translated from a future manuscript in a language that he doesn't know??

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Well, I often have a beef with authors notes and appendices and some things are better left mysterious; I dont object to the use of Latin so much as feel that were it a choice between making up new words and including an appendix that amounts to a metafictional disclaimer, I'd have preferred the former.

It's hard to say whether books like this fit more easily into the fantasy or science fiction genre. I know that many readers, even those who enjoy both, like to keep them as far away from one another in writing as possible, but I've always enjoyed these sorts of hybrids and felt that paths of technological change aren't simply arrows shooting for the sun. I recommend "Shadow of the Torturer" to those who hunger for modern fantastic literature with philosophical content, strong and occasionally macabre atmosphere and really excellent, sometimes beautiful writing that even the lack of eloquence which Severian professes can't subdue.

I've discovered a new writer to be excited about; let's hope the rest of the series holds up as well as this one. I read it first back in the '70s and found that I have very little memory of it. Possibly it was at a time when things were a bit stressful Anyway, I decided to reread it.

  • Histórias da Avozinha [Annotated] (Portuguese Edition).
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The Shadow of the Torturer is a novel where we are dropped into the middle of a world and get to know it as we go, sort of like "on the job training". I won't give away details as What I Okay What I will say is that we have another one of those books that straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy. Severian, when we meet him is an apprentice torturer The Seekers are an interesting group.

They are the Torturers Guild. They make sure never to to "take in" those who are sadists, those who simply enjoy giving pain. They never, never do more nor less than the "clients" are sentenced to by the courts. If you've read the synopsis then you know that once Severian becomes a Journeyman he is He could have and even in his own eyes should have received worse, much worse. There are reasons why that isn't possible however. So, he is exiled to the far away city or Thrax to be Lictor.

Marc Aramini on Gene Wolfe and Literature Part 4: Book of the New Sun [Part 1]

This in many ways is a somewhat existential book with much internal dialogue on our protagonist's part. The action takes place after the events above along the way. So in the tradition of some of the best stories throughout human history here we have a road story, a trip turning into a quest. I really enjoy this book and it comes very close to getting a 5 star rating and would like to, "reserve the right" to up my rating later. I'd say that I can recommend this one very highly and plan to buy the next after I thin out the library book pile a bit.

May 02, Zach rated it it was amazing. After suffering through the verbal flagellation of The Name of the Wind , I was really jonesing for some literary fantasy, if such a thing existed. A friend at work where people ought to know about such things tipped me off to Gene Wolf and told me to start here. Gene Wolfe is indeed a literary author: it's clear that significant thought was given to the characters, story arc, linguistic style, and thematic elements before he began writing this four-part story.

It's a post-historic After suffering through the verbal flagellation of The Name of the Wind , I was really jonesing for some literary fantasy, if such a thing existed. It's a post-historic future-history written in the style of a memoir by a member of the Torturer's Guild, if you can wrap your head around that, and it's so incredibly well executed you wonder if you're reading too much into it. Work people tell me that, in my case, the opposite is actually true. As we all know, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and Wolfe uses this fact to his advantage to keep the reader guessing about the nature of the reality he shapes.

It takes place on a far-future Earth or a planet very much like it, chronicling a fallen civilization built around seemingly magic relics left by their distant ancestors, who are remembered only in legend.