Book Review: The Book of the New Sun

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    “no one ever seems to notice that the instruments of torture were wood, nails, and a hammer; that the man who built the cross was undoubtedly a carpenter too”

    Without in any way diminishing the points made in this review, which are spot on, I’m pretty sure that Wolfe was wrong about this. In _The Last Temptation of Christ_ Jesus constructs crosses for the Roman occupiers. It is possible I am confusing the movie with the book, but my recollection is that this is in the Kazantzakis book, which was published in 1953.Report

    • It’s in there. There’s a lovely (or turgid) little scene where Peter sees that Jesus built a cross and, for a moment, Peter is grateful to Jesus for taking that sin upon Himself so that no one else would have to have that sin on his own soul.Report

  2. A million years in the future, and the sun is going out.

    Also the setting of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth books, which Wolfe has said was a large influence on the New Sun books.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    I am intrigued. I shall investigate.Report

  4. Avatar Zane says:

    I found Shadow of the Torturer compelling when I read it as a teenager. Part of it was the really interesting social world Wolfe had created. We learned things from Severian’s perspective and it became clear to me that I would never understand his world’s complexities. I was comforted that Severian was also a novice to his world, and also feeling his way. It was my introduction to world-building where different peoples believed many different things and not only were those belief systems and perspectives sometimes incompatible but often incomprehensible to others.

    The next two books were more of a slog for me, but I’m sure it was partly due to my youth and lack of experience. Wolfe has a beautiful way with language–it’s quite poetic–but the baroqueness can be mystifying. I know I often lost a sense of the forest (the ongoing story) for the trees as I parsed a difficult paragraph.

    Wolfe’s embedded ideas about language and meaning prepared me for Samuel R. Delany’s books which I discovered later.

    I’ve thought many times about rereading, but I’ve never gotten around to it.Report