In which a journeyman in the guild of torturers becomes ruler of the world.
I should have reviewed this book in two parts, because it’s published that way, as Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel. Perhaps I would be less intimidated by the prospect of discussing what ended up being an immense, sprawling, daunting work if I took smaller bites. Too late now.
The Book of the New Sun is an epic fantasy with science fiction elements, or perhaps it is the other way around. I’m not really sure how to classify it. One of the blurbs on the back of the book summons Swift, Dickens, Spenser and Wagner, and I saw all of the above influences within the book. More than anything, however, I was reminded of The Brothers Karamazov. As in Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece, The Book of the New Sun is guided less by narrative agency and more by outsized moments of grotesquerie, beauty, philosophy and mystery. There is no guiding hand behind Severian’s elevation; unlike in Karamazov, God is not a force with which to be reckoned.
Superfast Toddler is stirring from her nap, and I’m far more interested in hearing what others have to say than in my own thoughts on this book. If you’ve read it, please leave a comment and tell me what you thought!