Shadow & Claw

Shadow & Claw

The First Half of the Book of the New Sun : The Shadow of the Torturer/the Claw of the Conciliator

Book - 1994
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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 . Shadow & Claw brings together the first two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession -- showing mercy toward his victim.

Ursula K. Le Guin said, "Magic stuff . . . a masterpiece . . . the best science fiction I've read in years!"

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

"Arguably the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced [is] the four-volume Book of the New Sun."-- Chicago Sun-Times

"The Book of the New Sun establishes his 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

Publisher: New York : ORB, [1994]
ISBN: 9780312890179
Characteristics: 413 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Wolfe, Gene Claw of the conciliator
Alternative Title: Shadow and claw


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Nov 02, 2018

This book seems like fantasy at first, but it's sci-fi. The prose is very flowery, with numerous words I had to look up in the dictionary. It's not light reading, because you can easily misunderstand what's going on if you don't read closely. That said, it is quite interesting once you get the hang of Wolfe's style. The story really does feel like an adventure, and some parts are easier to get through than others depending on your understanding of mythology.

I felt like I was getting smarter as I read through the book, which is always a good sign. It really exercises your brain.

Jan 16, 2018

My new years resolution is to read less Star Wars books and expand my horizon. I started with Shadow & Claw which is on "best science fiction" lists online. I agree is reads more like fantasy and I definitely agree it's got some sexist themes in it, but that might be the 80's talking who knows. I liked this book, it was weird and confusing as heck and at points I lost my patience with how all over the place it is but overall I enjoyed it. I can also say with confidence that it is better reading then any of the new Star Wars cannon books so I am off to a good start with my resolution. I am looking forward to reading Sword & Lictor.

Some of my favorite parts (light spoilers):
Severian is hilarious for someone that doesn't talk much
Talos is hilarious (why does he never sleep though?)
If this were an episode of GoT people would love it cause of all the sex and violence
The chaos at the wall that was never explained but that whole scene was cool. A honeycomb Structure filled with monsters. Whooooaaaah.

Oct 07, 2015

I liked the way the dark world was built up. Everything was unexplained which tend to add to the mystery. But many of the things never got explained through the entirety of the book.
Beware of the style of writing, where not everything is precise. The writer sometimes presumes you understand certain concepts of the world he is portraying. Frustratingly enough it would get explained at a later stage chapters later or never at all. There are portions where the story transforms abruptly and there would seem like a large piece of time got lost. I found that the complexity of the plot and some of the sexual content was unnecessary.
All in all a average rating and a tough read. Certain parts are dry and the plot too sluggish.

Jun 05, 2014

This felt like I was reading a dreamy book where the story just floated from here to there with no definite direction.
Severin is an apprentice torturer and when he is expelled from the guild, he starts on a journey toward Thrax. Along the way he meets actors who ask him to join them, shop keepers who desperately want the sword he carries; he fights a duel with flowers and befriends a lady who comes from nowhere and remembers nothing. He sustains himself by practicing the trade he has learned as a torturer and executioner when local magistrates require him.
I really liked the idea of the world but all the tiny bits of information were just frustrating in their incompleteness. When the first book failed to grab my attention I have to admit to just skimming through the second, though the impression I got of it was that it was even more disjointed than the first. The cover of the book states that this is the best science fiction book of the last century but I didn’t understand its greatness.

JimYung Oct 25, 2011

I've only read the first book in this collection and it is some of the driest writing I've ever read. It is only marginally interesting enough for me to come back and read the second book in the future. But I won't read it straight through because that really would be torture!


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