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The Book of the New Sun

de Gene Wolfe

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

Séries: Solar Cycle (Omnibus 01-04), The Book of the New Sun (Omnibus 1-4)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaConversas / Menções
641937,140 (4.26)1 / 90
Severian is a torturer, born to the guild and with an exceptionally promising career ahead of him . . . until he falls in love with one of his victims, a beautiful young noblewoman. Out of love, Severian helps her commit suicide and escape her fate - no more unforgivable act for a torturer. He is exiled from the guild and his home city to the distant metropolis of Thrax with little more than Terminus Est, a fabled sword, to his name. Along the way he has to learn to survive in a wider world without the guild - a world in which he has already made both allies and enemies. And a strange gem is about to fall into his possession, which will make his enemies pursue him with ever more determination . . . Welcome to a world in which nothing is quite as it seems; to an unreliable narrator; to extraordinary, vivid and evocative writing; to one of the greatest genre classics of all time.… (mais)
  1. 00
    Child of the River de Paul J. McAuley (meika)
    meika: McAuley's work is a homage to Gene Wolf's ouevre.
  2. 00
    The Birthgrave de Tanith Lee (paradoxosalpha)
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 Group Reads - Sci-Fi: The Book of the New Sun - Final Thoughts36 por ler / 36LolaWalser, Outubro 2008

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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This book is, as someone else said, at the same time brilliant and infuriating. It seems aimless, especially the latter half of the first book, and the third book in almost its entirety. It is as if the author substitutes character arcs (the motivation to move a story forward) for scenes that are difficult to know if they're nonsensical or allegorical, or both at the same time. Severian does change, but his changes are more evident in his actions than in any speech he makes, and in allegory (the breaking of his sword, his outward appearance).
I loved and hated the book. Somehow I had enough patience to finish the book, though in the sluggish parts I wanted to let go of it. I didn't mainly because of the beautiful prose and the imagination of the author, and it really left me wondering at the finer points of the plot, though some of the "mysteries" were pretty obvious and others were obscure in such a way that didn't make me want to bust my brains trying to figure them out (like the whole Abaia/Erebus/"Cthulish" gods), I just took them at face value, because they didn't seem important to the overall story.
I'll surely reread it at some point, since it might be better the second time. ( )
  marsgeverson | Jan 12, 2023 |
This is a 5500 word essay on a reread of the full TBotNS, focusing on the narrative trap Wolfe has set, and my theory that his literary sleight of hand serves a religious/mystical goal, much more than it is the supposed puzzle for the reader to unravel. There’s also a short section on free will, and it ends with my overall appraisal of the book’s enduring appeal.

(...)

Even though Wright might be right in spirit, Aramini’s law still holds: “One of the most fascinating aspects of the critical discourse surrounding Wolfe involves how infrequently any two people will agree with each other.” That is because Wolfe has indeed set a trap – but his trap isn’t there to catch readers unwilling to question their assumptions in a post-structuralist way… The trap is there to catch post-structuralists and puzzle-solvers altogether. To understand that, I’ll have to turn to the Spiritual.

(...)

Full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It ( )
1 vote bormgans | May 17, 2021 |
I first read this book (in the four individual volumes) many decades ago in my early teens. In 2007, I picked up this omnibus edition with the intention to re-read it, and quickly acquired most of the other volumes in the larger Solar Cycle, which resulted in a large prospective reading project on which I procrastinated until the thick of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Given my intention to re-read it, I had had a favorable impression of it on my initial read, but I really felt I had not fully understood or appreciated it then. I was correct.

In fact, I am such a different reader now, and so much more capable of grasping what Wolfe has presented here, that most of this book seemed entirely new to me. I remembered the largest plot arc, by which the apprentice torturer ascends to the office of Autarch--and it's no spoiler to say so, since that framing is well established early on--but I had forgotten the smaller twists, if I ever really appreciated them, and many of the features of the setting seemed entirely new to me on this read.

There is a great contrast in the two literary backgrounds that informed each of my reads. On my initial approach, I came to the work with what I thought was the compatible experience of The Lord of the Rings and perhaps Michael Moorcock's Elric saga. I did appreciate that the described Urth was in our far future, and I had already encountered this sort of conceit in The Sword of Shannara, a highly conventional epic fantasy with various clues to indicate that it was set in a future after our civilization had been effaced by catastrophic warfare. To be fair to my younger self, I think this approach to Wolfe's books was perfectly in keeping with the publisher's packaging and expectations, and to some degree I had simply fallen for the author's intentional misdirection.

On this recent read, I was far more informed by the reading experiences I had gathered from other works in the "dying Earth" subgenre, especially the Viriconium stories of M. John Harrison and The City and the Stars of Arthur C. Clarke. And I was further prepared by reading Wolfe's own Fifth Head of Cerberus, which offers the sort of elliptical presentation that occurs throughout The Book of the New Sun, without the "epic" framing or red-herring fantasy tropes of the latter.

Wolfe personally adhered to the Roman Catholic confession, and critics have sometimes highlighted this fact as if it supplied a privileged interpretive viewpoint for the work. I remember being a little put off by the possible significance of "religious" elements in my first read--having been burned by the Sunday School allegory of Narnia and the rather dim messianism of Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books. But on this recent read, I thought the better comparandum would be the religions, cults, and mysticism of Herbert's Dune, using the grist of historical religion in the mill of speculative worldbuilding--with some genuine metaphysical rumination. For what it's worth, Wolfe's Severian is a lot more diffident about the miracles of his story than Paul Atreides was. The "Claw of the Conciliator" relic that supplies the title of the second book is present through all four, and its demystification in the fourth has the paradoxical effect of enhancing its numinosity. The "One Ring" it is not.

Some other comparisons that failed to occur to me on my initial read:
The relationship of the hierodule extraterrestrials to the humanity of Urth was like that of Childhood's End--with some additional wrinkles--and considering also the kinship of the plot to The City and the Stars I wonder if Wolfe was an active fan of Clarke. Abaia and his titanic kin seemed to be more than a little bit like Cthulhu.

The diction of this work is notable for its baroque qualities, archaicisms, and neologisms in an archaic manner. There is a rationale for these stylistic features, which are nevertheless alienating for the reader. Also alienating is the unsympathetic protagonist, who narrates the entire story on the basis of his professedly impeccable memory. A reader might (and I'm sure I once did) miss key details while simply trying to avoid getting stuck on these matters. Wolfe deliberately uses ambiguous language in his nautical and astronautical references. Spacefarers are simply "sailors."

There are wonderful uses of form and metafictional structure. I especially enjoyed the central play-within-the-play of "Eschatology and Genesis" in the second book, and the Canterbury Tales concatenation of stories told by the convalescing soldiers in the lazaret of the fourth. Despite appearances, these are not digressions from the main work, and they can be understood in part as instruction in how to read the larger text. There is a very rigorous pattern governing the whole, with a strong sense of cyclic completion. The "Citadel of the Autarch" in the title of the fourth book is the place where the first book begins, but its identification with the Autarch is the result of the events of the tale.

The titles of the four component volumes highlight the riddles posed throughout. What is the shadow of the torturer Severian? Is it perhaps the Chatelaine Thecla whose suicide he assists to his own dishonor, and whose consciousness is joined to his by the alzabo? What is the Claw of the Conciliator? The relic is despoiled by Agia, desecrated by Baldanders, and then devalued by the Pelerines who had been its guardians. What is the value of Severian's sword? Agia and Agilus would have killed Severian to obtain it. Its Latin name Terminus Est is oddly translated in the text to mean, "This is the line of division" (101)--and while it also means "It is the end," the sword itself doesn't endure to the end of the story. And what is the Autarch? At first presented as the shadowy and remote political executive of the Commonwealth, he later comes to figure as an epopt or Ipsissimus, and ultimately as perhaps the custodian of Urth. And yet some of his attendants address him as "Legion" (857, cf. Mark 5:9), and the old Autarch tells Severian, "I stand ... as you will stand ... for so much that is wrong" (889).

Reading The Book of the New Sun is not like watching a Hollywood movie or even reading a mystery novel. If you let it carry you along, you will be left wondering why you bothered. But there are amazing rewards for the reader who is alert to the increasingly distant voice of the narrator and who works to recognize the features of the story that are left tacit. Not only do I hold this work in high regard for its own sake as a literary accomplishment, it has taught me about reading and storytelling.
5 vote paradoxosalpha | Dec 28, 2020 |
Like an icepick in the forehead! ( )
  deepsettpress | Aug 4, 2013 |
I wish I had begun reading each book on its own; if I had, I wouldn't have bothered finishing either of the last two books. As it is, I'm giving the entire book an awkward "average" of the ratings. It's hard to extract each book's feel, but here are the ratings I believe I'd give each part:

The Shadow of the Torturer - *****
The Claw of the Conciliator - ****
The Sword of the Lictor - ***
The Citadel of the Autarch - **

While the later books continue to do a fantastical job of world-building, the plot felt like it lost momentum and became schizophrenic, pointless, and dead. Shadow and Claw at least felt cohesive (even if they weren't), and any distractions felt worthwhile. By the end of the book, the distractions felt worthwhile only because they served to obscure the plot and characters, which had become tired, obnoxious, and fickle. Conventions of syntax from the beginning of the book wore thin by the end, and Wolfe's obsession with obscure (and invented) nouns by the fourth book were just a hair south of infuriating. I would recommend the entire tetralogy only to the most dedicated of readers. ( )
1 vote bnewcomer | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Maitz, DonArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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If I had seen one miracle fail, I had witnessed another; and even a seemingly purposeless miracle is an inexhaustible source of hope, because it proves to us that since we do not understand everything, our defeats—so much more numerous than our few and empty victories—may be equally specious.
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Severian is a torturer, born to the guild and with an exceptionally promising career ahead of him . . . until he falls in love with one of his victims, a beautiful young noblewoman. Out of love, Severian helps her commit suicide and escape her fate - no more unforgivable act for a torturer. He is exiled from the guild and his home city to the distant metropolis of Thrax with little more than Terminus Est, a fabled sword, to his name. Along the way he has to learn to survive in a wider world without the guild - a world in which he has already made both allies and enemies. And a strange gem is about to fall into his possession, which will make his enemies pursue him with ever more determination . . . Welcome to a world in which nothing is quite as it seems; to an unreliable narrator; to extraordinary, vivid and evocative writing; to one of the greatest genre classics of all time.

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