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Come la ruvida cartolina olografica in grado di restituire con una sensibile inclinazione lo sviluppo tridimensionale dell’immagine, le vicende di Severian, apprendista artigiano della corporazione dei Torturatori, si muovono tra paesaggi medievali e architetture avveniristiche. Sullo sfondo la Torre di Matachin, luogo d’iniziazione ai segreti della casta che ammette comeCome la ruvida cartolina olografica in grado di restituire con una sensibile inclinazione lo sviluppo tridimensionale dell’immagine, le vicende di Severian, apprendista artigiano della corporazione dei Torturatori, si muovono tra paesaggi medievali e architetture avveniristiche. Sullo sfondo la Torre di Matachin, luogo d’iniziazione ai segreti della casta che ammette come unici adepti i figli delle proprie vittime; in primo piano, l’amore per la condannata Thecla, motore propulsore della storia, che condurrà il protagonista lontano da Nessus, la Città Immortale; ed è in cammino sulle vie dell’esilio, con la spada del Maestro come unica compagna, che Severian tenterà la riscossa contro l’imperscrutabile potere dell’Autarca......

Title : L'ombra del torturatore
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788834719312
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 293 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

L'ombra del torturatore Reviews

  • J.G. Keely
    2018-08-24 12:37

    Wolfe has an almost legendary status amongst fellow authors; Gaiman called him 'a ferocious intellect', Swanwick said he's "the greatest writer in the English language alive today", and Disch called this series "a tetralogy of couth, intelligence, and suavity".You can rarely trust the popular market to single out good authors, but you'd think it might be safe to listen to the opinions of other writers (especially an assemblage of Nebula and Hugo winners in their own right). I will give his fans one concession: Wolfe is an author who defies expectations. Unfortunately, I was expecting him to be remarkable and interesting.This book had been sitting on my shelf for months, along with other highly-praised works I've been looking forward to, but I bade my time, waiting for the mood to strike. Few live up to their reputation, but most at least deliver part of the promise.I would expect any author mentioned in the same breath as Peake to have an original and vibrant style, but I found Wolfe's writing to be simple without being elegant. His language and structure serves its purpose, only occasionally rising above mere utilitarianism, and then he rushes to florid flourishes that fall flat as often as they succeed. Sometimes, it is downright dull. The prose of the second book is stronger than the first, but its plot and characters are more linear and predictable.I appreciated his 'created language' more than most fantasy authors, but I didn't find it particularly mysterious or difficult, because all of his words are based on recognizable Germanic or Romantic roots. Then again, after three years of writing stories about Roman whores in Latin, I had little problem with 'meretriculous'. Even those words I wasn't familiar with seemed clear by their use.The terms are scattered throughout the book, but rarely contribute to a more pervasive linguistic style, as might be seen in The Worm Ouroboros, The Lord of the Rings, Gormenghast, or The King of Elfland's Daughter. Wolfe's terms pepper otherwise and unremarkable modern style, which hardly helps to throw us into a strange world.He is better than the average fantasy author, but he resembles them more than he differs from them. His protagonist started off interestingly enough: an apparently weak and intelligent man, which made it all the more disappointing when he suddenly transformed into a laconic, wench-loving buttkicker who masters sword-fighting, finds the Super Magic Thing and follows the path of his Awesome Foretold Fate. Again, I must agree with Nick Lowe: Wolfe's plot owes more to magic and convenience than good storytelling.It relies on the same tricks over and over: any time a character is about to give important information to us, there will be a sudden attack or other interruption, as convenient and annoying as the moment when the dying man says "I was killed by . . . aargh". We also get problems solved by divine intervention whenever things start to slow, which doesn't leave the characters much room to be active.He also seems to suffer from the same sexual discomfort that plagues so many fantasy authors. There is an undercurrent of obsession with women and their sexuality, complete with the sexualization of rape and murder. It's not so much a case of misogyny as it is an inequality in how characters behave.The women always seem to end up as playtoys for the narrator, running around naked, desiring him, sparring with him coyly, but ultimately, conquered; and the camera pans away. They always approach him, desire him, pretending they don't want him, then give themselves up to him. It's the same old story of an awkward, emotionless male protagonist who is inexplicably followed and harangued by women who fall in love with him for no given reason, familiar to anyone who's seen a harem anime.I will grant that the women have more character than the average fantasy heroine, but it still doesn't leave them with much. Instead of giving into love at first sight, they fight it as long as they can, making it that much sweeter when the narrator finally 'wins'. The sexuality was not new, interesting, arousing, or mutual, it was merely the old game of 'overcoming the strong woman' that is familiar to readers of the Gor books. The sense of 'love' in The New Sun is even more unsettling. It descends on the characters suddenly and nonsensically, springing to life without build or motivation. The word never comes up in connection with any psychological development, nor does it ever seem to match the relationships as they are depicted. More often than not, it seems love is only mentioned so the narrator can coldly break his lover's trust in the next chapter.Several times, the narrator tries to excuse himself for objectifying women by mentioning that he also objectifies ugly women. What this convolution of misogyny is supposed to represent, I couldn't say. The narrator seems very interested in this fact, and is convinced that it makes him a unique person. It made it very clear to me why the most interesting antiheroes tend to be gruff and laconic, because listening to a chauvinistic sociopath talk about himself is insufferable.Then there is the fact that every character you meet in the story turns up again, hundreds of miles away, to reveal that they are someone else and have been secretly controlling the action of the plot. It feels like the entire world is populated by about fifteen people who follow the narrator around wherever he goes. If the next two books continue along the same lines, then the big reveal will be that the world is entirely populated by no more than three superpowered shapeshifters.Everyone in the book has secret identities, secret connections to grand conspiracies, and important plot elements that they conveniently hide until the last minute, only doling out clues here and there. There are no normal people in this world, only double agents and kings in disguise. Every analysis I've read of this book mentions that even the narrator is unreliable.This can be an effective technique, but in combination with a world of infinite, unpredictable intrigue, Wolfe's story begins to evoke something between a soap opera and a convoluted mystery novel, relying on impossible and contradictory scenarios to mislead the audience. Apparently, this is the thing his fans most appreciate about him--I find it to be an insulting and artificial game.I agree with this reviewer that there is simply not enough structure to the story to make the narrator's unreliability meaningful. In order for unreliable narration to be effective, there must be some clear and evident counter-story that undermines it. Without that, it is not possible to determine meaning, because there's nowhere to start: everything is equally shaky.At that point, it's just a trick--adding complexity to the surface of the story without actually producing any new meaning. I know most sci fi and fantasy authors seem to love complexity for its own sake, but it's a cardinal sin of storytelling: don't add something into your story unless it needs to be there. Covering the story with a lot of vagaries and noise may impress some, but won't stand up to careful reading.Fantasy novels are often centered on masculinity, violence, and power struggles, and so by making the narrator an emotionally distant manipulator with sociopathic tendencies, Wolfe's story is certainly going to resemble other genre outings. If Severian is meant to be a subversion of the grim antihero, I would expect a lot of clever contradiction which revealed him. His unreliability would have to leave gaping holes that point to another, more likely conclusion. If the protagonist's mendacious chauvinism is not soundly contradicted, then there is really nothing separating him from what he is supposed to be mocking.Poe's Law states that it can be difficult to tell whether something is an act of mockery or an example of genuine extremism, and perhaps that's what's going on here: Wolfe's mockery is so on-the-nose that it is indistinguishable from other cliche genre fantasy. But even if that were true, then the only thing separating Wolfe from the average author is the fact that he's doing it on purpose, which is hardly much of a distinction. If a guy punches himself in the nose and then insists "I meant to do that", I don't think that makes him any less of a dumbass.Human psychology and politics are fraught enough without deliberately obfuscating them. Unfortunately, Wolfe does not have the mastery of psychology to make a realistically complicated text, only a cliched text that is meta-complicated.After finishing the book, I tried to figure out why it had garnered so much praise. I stumbled across a number of articles, including this one by Gaiman and this one by an author who wrote a book of literary analysis about the New Sun series. Both stressed that Wolfe was playing a deliberate meta-fictional game with his readers, creating mysteries and clues in his book for them to follow, so that they must reread the text over and over to try to discern what is actually happening. I won't claim this isn't a technical feat, but I would suggest that if Wolfe wanted us to read his book over and over, he might have written it with verve, style, character, and originality. As the above critic says:"On a first, superficial reading, there is little to distinguish Wolfe’s tetralogy from many other sf and fantasy novels . . . The plot itself is apparently unremarkable."Perhaps I'm alone in this, but I have no interest in reading your average sword-wielding badass gender-challenged fantasy book over and over in the hopes that it will get better. If Wolfe is capable of writing an original and interesting story, why cover it with a dull and occasionally insulting one?I have enjoyed complex books before, books with hidden messages and allusions, but they were interesting both in their depths and on the surface. I didn't find the New Sun books particularly complex or difficult. His followers have said that he isn't 'concerned with being conspicuously witty', but I'd suggest he's merely incapable of being vibrant or intriguing.There were interesting ideas and moments in the book, and I did appreciate what originality Wolfe did have, but I found it strange that such a different mind would produce such hidebound prose, tired descriptions, convenient plots, and unappealing characters. It has usually been my experience that someone who is capable of thinking remarkable things is capable of writing remarkable things.Sure, there were some interesting Vancian moments, where you realize that some apparently magical effect is actual a piece of sci fi detritus: this character is a robot, that tower is actually a rocket, a painting of a mythical figure clearly depicts an astronaut--but this doesn't actually add anything to the story, they weren't important facts, they were just details thrown in.It didn't matter that any of those things were revealed to be something else than they appeared, because it didn't change anything about the story, or the characters, or the themes or ideas. These weren't vital and strange ideas to be explored, like the mix of sci fi and fantasy in Vance, Le Guin, or Lovecraft, but inconsequential 'easter eggs' for obsessing fans to dig up.As Clarke's Third Law says: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Therefore, switching back and forth between magical explanations and super-technological ones doesn't mean much, on its own. They're indistinguishable. Star Wars may use the trappings of sci fi, but it's just a fantasy story about wizards and knights in space. In order to make the distinction meaningful, you've got to put some kind of spin on it.Overall, I found nothing unique in Wolfe. Perhaps it's because I've read quite a bit of odd fantasy; if all I read was mainstream stuff, then I'd surely find Wolfe unpredictable, since he is a step above them. But compared to Leiber, Howard, Lovecraft, Dunsany, Eddison, Kipling, Haggard, Peake, Mieville, or Moorcock, Wolfe is nothing special.Perhaps I just got my hopes up too high. I imagined something that might evoke Peake or Leiber (at his best), perhaps with a complexity and depth gesturing toward Milton or Ariosto. I could hardly imagine a better book than that, but even a book half that good would be a delight--or a book that was nothing like that, but was unpredictable and seductive in some other way.I kept waiting for something to happen, but it never really did. It all plods along without much rise or fall, just the constant moving action to make us think something interesting is happening. I did find some promise, some moments that I would have loved to see the author explore, particularly those odd moments where Silver Age Sci Fi crept in, but each time he touched upon these, he would return immediately to the smallness of his plot and his annoying prick of a narrator. I never found the book to be difficult or complex, merely tiring. the unusual parts were evasive and vague, and the dull parts constant and repetitive.The whole structure (or lack of it) does leave things up to interpretation, and perhaps that's what some readers find appealing: that they can superimpose their own thoughts and values onto the narrator, and onto the plot itself. But at that point, they don't like the book Wolfe wrote, they like the book they are writing between his lines.I'll lend the book out to some fantasy-loving friends and they'll buy the next one, which I'll then have to borrow from them so I can see if there's ever a real payoff. Then again, if Sevarian's adolescent sexuality is any evidence, the climax will be as underwhelming as the self-assured, fumbling foreplay. If I don't learn to stop giving my heart away, it's just going to get broken again.Ah well, once more unto the breach.My Fantasy Book Suggestions

  • Kevin Kelsey
    2018-09-14 10:32

    First off, the setting is awesome. Secondly, there are sentences, paragraphs, and whole sections of this book that are gorgeously written. Exquisitely crafted prose.The first half of the book is entirely enjoyable, and builds up a world (Urth) that is entirely unique among any fiction I've come across. The second half spends some time meandering. There are enough mysteries here to keep me very interested in finishing the series, because I really need to know what's going on here. It's intriguing. I'll save final judgement until I've finished The Book of the New Sun, since this is very much just 1/4 of the total story. I will say that there was a moment where I felt that the story was going off the rails, and precisely then, the protagonist chose to mention that he felt like his story was doing the same... I liked that. He compared events happening to him as being too strange, and too random, like badly written stories that he's read before.This Gene Wolfe fellow seems to know what he's doing here.

  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    2018-09-06 15:35

    The title of this book really turned me away from reading this book for decades. However, it was selected as a club read so I decided to give it a try. There are a few torture scenes and the violence is graphic but minimal. Overall, it is a pseudo-myth story, so the tone is dreamlike, and primarily a meditation on the pain of living as a human being rather than an adventure or coming-of-age story. The language is beautiful, poetic; however it's also a touch self-conscious. Whatever. The author deserves the kudos he was reaching for.I suggest reading and before reading this novel, but it isn't essential. However, I think it will deepen your understanding of how clever the author was in his design of the plot and why he created the dreamy atmosphere and solemn tone, in my opinion. This is a hero's journey of the Underworld, a place of death, pain and suffering, but Severian, the narrator and main character who is writing a journal about his past, is not quite the hero or antihero, which is the the usual setup. As the Torturer, he is simply doing his job, but he certainly is also the mythological intermediary between us common beings and the gods. My mind immediately jumped to Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Adventure: Power of Myth 1, which I read in the 1970's. Mozart's The Magic Flute also came to mind, and However, the novel's unique viewpoint is that of from the guy who's job is to send heroic and antiheroic seekers to the Underworld. Severian is symbolic stand-in of the Ferryman Charon who demands a coin before transporting souls across the river Styx. place is sometime in the future after everything has fallen apart and the world has forgotten everything about where we are today. It is a return to the Dark Ages, similar to the early Middle Ages. The Guilds have returned as well as aristocracy, kings and peons. Swords are the main weapons, and poverty is the overwhelming state of most people's finances, even though private business in the form of little shops and taverns are thriving. Duels are fought among the different varieties of wealthy classes when they aren't dodging the Autarch, the dictator king and his Guild of Torturers. While the world is mostly low tech, such as travel using animals or walking, and cooking over fires, here and there in pockets of society appear ancient devices from a more advanced technological time, and mysterious magical gems and, perhaps, wandering spirits of the dead and gods.Severian is an orphan, parents unknown, given to the Guild of Torturers almost before he began to remember things. Once he begins to remember his life, he cannot forget anything being blessed (!?!) with remembering everything perfectly. It's a strange coming-of-age. He learns the rudiments of reading, writing, and ciphering, but his main education is learning how to cut up the human body and using implements of torture. His school is in a tower, a prison, within the Citadel, which is a massive ancient structure consisting of many buildings and towers, some crumbling and in disuse for centuries, riddled with secret passageways and tunnels and forgotten gardens. Despite having lived there all of his youth, he has not been anywhere except a few paces beyond the Tower of his Guild. Once deemed acceptable as a student, he and his friends become apprentices, then journeymen, and if showing exceptional ability, graduating to Masters. Severian makes it to Journeyman, but he meets a girl imprisoned in the Tower, scheduled for torture and death. He falls in love, but he knows his duty. Thecla, the beautiful concubine (of whom there are thousands, basically taken to ensure obedience from her wealthy family) of the Autarch, is an educated woman, and requests books from the library. Severian is assigned to meet her requests and through the year of her imprisonment, learns much beyond his basic education as they both read and discuss philosophy and myth (don't worry, there are no pages of arcane philosophy to be skimmed past). He eventually commits a grievous sin against his Guild oath, and is reassigned to be a carnifex of Thrax. Thrax is a small town, and a carnifex cuts off the heads or otherwise carries out the punishment sentences of criminals of the State. Unlike those living in the Citadel, who have their victims delivered to them, Severian will now spend his days going to where he is assigned to carry out punishment. He begins his journey out of the Citadel, which takes several days, and meets a variety of people, all new to his experience. Unavoidably he makes mistakes and is challenged to a duel. Although he has a magical sword,Terminus Est , given to him by the Head Master, the duel is by using poisonous flowers, of which he knows nothing. Is it the end before he has even begun? Given that this is part one of a trilogy of books, perhaps not. Personally, I think if you really really want to 'get' this book, you should read at least the introductory paragraphs in my links, in my opinion. This is not a typical fantasy, but a literary metafictional story specifically referencing ancient myths and historical literature. Without at least some preliminary knowledge of what the author was doing, I think the joy in reading this interesting smart novel will be dimmed to a degree.I noticed some of the more literary reviewers who also picked up on the mythological references gave this book two stars or so simply because they thought, "oh, dear, yet ANOTHER metafictional story, yawn." Well, EXCUSE ME! It's very GOOD for another mythological literary novel! Since a lot of young people will primarily be interested in this book because they tend to be fantasy genre readers, do not let this opportunity go to introduce yourself to the myths behind 60% of the stories out there! Ok, ok, it's not a shoot'em up video game, but this book is a way into upping your game in reading and understanding literature.Ahem. Sorry. I admit I am a little excited."Oh, death, where is thy sting?", Shakespeare, from 'Hamlet".

  • Markus
    2018-08-30 07:34

    I have no idea what to say about this book. I don't even know what I thought of it.I've heard that it's supposed to be difficult to read. I disagree.I've heard that the writing is outstandingly beautiful. I disagree.And so neither my positive nor my negative expectation was met. Moreover, the story was a mess, the main character was a mess and the setting was a mess. Somehow it was still good. The end.

  • Lyn
    2018-08-24 12:46

    A dark jewel.Reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin, Robert Silverberg and Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe’s 1980 high fantasy begins a four book series about Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers who shows mercy and is exiled as an executioner.And like most fantasies, it’s about a lot more too. Wolfe explores themes of honor, guild loyalty and resurrection / rebirth. This can also be seen as a religious allegory, though his tone is somber and the redemption is subtle and hidden in his intricate writing.This comes with a lot of hype. Writers like Neil Gaiman and Le Guin gush when they write about Wolfe and other commentators have provided accolades that lift Wolfe’s writing out of the speculative fiction genre and praise him as a great writer period.No doubt the quality of Wolfe’s writing is impressive. He has a mastery of the language not often seen in fantasy writing (again the comparison to Le Guin). Couple this with an original and unique, highly imaginative and complex world building and the high praise is warranted.I thought of Jack Vance and his The Dying Earth series frequently while reading this. But whereas Vance tells his stories with a wink and a nod, letting his humor and personality shine through, Wolfe’s writing is dark and brooding. He creates a mood like a gothic opera.I also thought about Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series because while I can see how other readers love this work and want to read more and more – for whatever reason I find myself on the outside looking in, never really buying in.

  • Penny
    2018-08-27 11:40

    I struggled through this book and spent most of it waiting for the end to redeem it. But then it had no end! It just stopped. If you've read any of my other reviews you may know that books that don't have proper endings are a major pet peeve of mine. I was extra annoyed this time because I'd been told that the beauty of this series lies in the twists and turns brilliantly laid out by Wolfe. I was sorely disappointed.I found this book very difficult to read. I formed no attachment to the protagonist Severian and I didn't care for his narration as an older version of himself telling the story of his young life. His habit of falling in love at first sight many times over became less believable the more times it happened.That said, I didn't give this one star because I think it's a book one has to read the entire series to understand, and then re-read a number of times to truly see the genius in it. My lack of enjoyment reading the first book will likely mean that I never get into a position to understand this series, but I do understand that I'm disliking something partly because I don't fully understand it.

  • Bradley
    2018-08-29 07:28

    I was awash in strange expectations and assumptions before picking up this book, and after coming out the other side, I'm happy to say that this thoughtful novel pleased me.It didn't wow me, but it certainly pleased me. I was very worried it wouldn't because the period of the late seventies and early eighties was a time of Fantasy that I just never really liked. What? But this novel is SF! Yes it is, and I loved all the old incorporation of alien life, our dying sun, quantum physics extrapolations and Odd Reality, but at its heart, the novel reads just like a Fantasy.The apprentice must face a difficult choice, is engaged with wise old men, must suffer the consequences of his heroic and/or compassionate actions, and is thus expelled to make a way into the wide and difficult world carrying a sword and a complex menagerie of companions.Sound familiar?I might have balked at such a blatant use of tropes for an SF novel had it not also been full of characters I truly liked. What a relief! Plus, I'm a freaking sucker for libraries and book-talk, even when the books and philosophies entertained are of a far-off time and "supposedly" alien to us.In point of fact, this far-off time feels more like a feudal dark-ages and I really got into the novel by the point it felt like a shadow of A Canticle for Leibowitz. It didn't end there, by far, but that was the point it grabbed me and didn't let go. :)The rest of the adventure and the discussions of love and affection and sex, even with the societal ick of institutionalized sex-work, was somewhat hit-and-miss for me, though, but I couldn't help but be charmed by Severain's puppydog-outlook. It might annoy others, but it felt like some of the most genuine parts of the novel.Lastly, I loved the world-building. It was all understated and slipped in so gently that we the readers were delightfully focused upon the characters long enough to be surprised by the full weight of the world. It didn't hit me over the head. Instead, it charmed. :)I don't think I'm going to have any issues reading the rest of these novels, and that's a real surprise for me! Like I said, I have had a lot of bad experiences with Fantasy during this time period. But then, that begs the question, doesn't it? Maybe I'm simply freer with praise and lax criticism because it is, ostensibly, SF? I admit I might be influenced by my expectations in both directions, but it doesn't change the fact that I liked the novel. :)

  • Chris
    2018-09-17 10:30

    I tried. Fuck it.That was my original review, but not much to go on. Then again, if I took up 200 pages with flowery words of why this booked suck, I'd be doing the same thing the author of this piece of shit did.The Torture of the Shadower:Flowery prose? Yes. Gene Wolfe has it. He's a talented writer that can make a pretty sentence. I was often impressed with his word usage and some of the sentences were really enjoyable to read.That said, you don't have to construct pretty sentences to impress me. That won't last but a moment, gone by the time I've moved to the next sentence. But when you string along a bunch of them, I start getting annoyed. Look, I read a work of fiction for story. Not to clap my hands to my face and get orgasmic because the writer is so very talented and smart.I get that Gene Wolfe is smarter than I am. Frankly, I don't give much of a fuck. I'm reading a book for story. Tell me one. And while you're doing that, try using the language that your readers read (in this case English). Wolfe has this insanely annoying tendency to make up a bunch of words without definition and string them through the narrative, making the readers feel like the dumbfucks because they don't know what they mean. Many of these you can pick up in context, until after the halfway point of the book when context goes out the window. Because you don't know the fuck is going on. And don't much care by this point. This reminded me of China Mieville, and as people that know me will tell you, THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING.I found myself skimming by the last 40 pages or so. Sure, I missed a lot of what was happening by doing this, but to be honest, I wouldn't have gotten much more by reading every flowery word. I'd have just been more impressed with Wolfe's ability to use fancy words (which he either makes up or I'm just too stupid to comprehend), and been angry with him for wasting my time. I get that some people love this stuff. That's fine. I can see where one might. I'm just not that one.1 1/2 stars.

  • Stephen
    2018-09-08 15:35

    5.0 stars. Along with The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, the book that set the standard for the "science fantasy" epic. The Book of the New Sun Tetralogy is one of the great achievements in science fiction and is a MUST READ for fans of the genre. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!! Winner: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (1981)Winner: Britsh Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1982)Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1981)Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1981)Nominee: Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (1981)Named to Locus list of "All Time" Best Fantasy Novels (#4)

  • Linda
    2018-08-30 11:45

    I had no idea what to expect from this book, but I wanted to read outside my normal comfort zone in order to broaden my horizons. (Thanks, John, for the suggestion!) Well, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I immediately connected with both the style of writing and how the narrator presents the story as reflecting back upon his life and the choices he made or did not make. I also loved the ancient feeling of this world, although it slowly dawned on me that this actually takes place way off in the distant future. I held back from giving this 5 stars only because there are a lot of philosophical musings and other physical mysteries of the world that went right over my head. That and the feeling that this book didn't feel completely self-contained, but a continuation of reading the next book in the series is a must.EDITED: After finishing the four book series, I'm upgrading book one to 5 stars.

  • KatHooper
    2018-09-03 13:51

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.For those of you enjoy audiobooks, this is the perfect time to finally read (or to re-read) Gene Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer. Audible Frontiers recently put it on audio and the excellent Jonathan Davis is the reader.The Shadow of the Torturer introduces Severian, an orphan who grew up in the torturer's guild. Severian is now sitting on a throne, but in this first installment of The Book of the New Sun, he tells us of key events in his boyhood and young adulthood. The knowledge that Severian will not only survive, but will become a ruler, doesn't at all detract from the suspense; it makes us even more curious about how he will get there and what he experiences on the way.What makes Gene Wolfe's epic different from everything else on the SFF shelf is his unique, evocative storytelling style. The reader isn't given all of the history and religion lessons (etc.) that are often dumped on us at the beginning of a fantasy epic. 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. 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. 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. I can't wait to read on in The Book of the New Sun with Jonathan Davis. This story is deeply emotional and introspective and, as usual, Mr. Davis's performance is

  • Vit Babenco
    2018-08-27 14:50

    The Shadow of the Torturer is like a Preraphaelite canvas – the ancient perishing world, painted in unbelievably vivid colours, is washed in the sanguine rays of a long fatal sundown.Only Gene Wolfe limns with words:“The necropolis has never seemed a city of death to me; I know its purple roses (which other people think so hideous) shelter hundreds of small animals and birds. The executions I have seen performed and have performed myself so often are no more than a trade, a butchery of human beings who are for the most part less innocent and less valuable than cattle. When I think of my own death, or of the death of someone who has been kind to me, or even of the death of the sun, the image that comes to my mind is that of the nenuphar, with its glossy, pale leaves and azure flower.”When the routine of his day to day life is shattered – even the most fantastic worlds have their routine ruts, however incredible – Severian goes into exile which turns out to be a beginning of the fabulous quest of his life.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2018-08-23 15:48

    Okay...what do I say about this book?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...the '70s were like that. Anyway, I decided to reread it.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 would be the point of learning things as you go" if I spill the beans? 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...that is member of the Guild, "Seekers for Truth and Penitence". 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...exiled for showing mercy. 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.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.Enjoy.

  • Jean-marcel
    2018-09-17 15:38

    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 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 1912 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 the recommendation of a couple of friends, I sought out this first volume of Wolf's "Book of the New Sun", an opus spanning across four books that details the travails and travels of Severian, a professional torturer who's task it is to wield justice on behalf of his guild and exercise "excrutiations" and executions in a formal, ceremonial manner. 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. 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. 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 (??) and takes great pains to point out the fact that none of his terms are "made up", and the latin is only used to convey a sense of archaism. 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. a very minor quibble, but one which I feel is worth noting.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. many divergences and changes and losses ought to happen, and the idea of a distant future where humans are aware of alien life, space travel and such, yet use swords and beasts of burden, is not one I have a difficulty with. There's no real magic on Wolf's Urth, it seems, although Severian does talk briefly about a "Guild of Witches", but the arcane atmosphere, mysterious artefacts, epic flavour and somewhat spiritual bent *feels* like a heady sort of magic. 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.

  • Zach
    2018-09-20 12:52

    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 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. Wolfe seldom gives center stage to this high technology / magic, but lets his character explain what he feels is important in his own subjective voice.At first glance the story feels episodic; it's only after reading the entire series that I understand how artfully these episodes are arranged, how much they rely on one another to form a coherent narrative arc through four novels. Lots of authors could probably pull something like this off given an infinitely patient readership, but it's rare indeed to find one so skillful as Wolfe, who can keep us eagerly turning pages and still give us pause when he ties up loose ends from hundreds of pages back.As I mentioned, these four books are really one continuous story, and are intended to be read together. They had their high and low points, as the star ratings indicate, but I won't take the time to write a detailed review of each.

  • Laura
    2018-09-20 12:44

    I don't even know whether I liked this one or not.The story is weird and the MC's a mess. The prose is not difficult to read but dense. The writing is beautiful at times but tedious at others. From a detailed desription of a building or a landscape the author takes you smack right into an equally exquisitely detailed description of say the technique of a proper "socking" (method of torture not article of clothing) or the correct way to suture a stump. Perhaps it is because of the author's particular way of writing that the torture scenes described in this book will make one want to empty his stomach's contents. Granted, there aren't so many of them, but for me those were enough to creep me out.Severian himself is a complete mess as a character. And I think I already mentioned that before. He falls in love instantly (as soon as he lays eyes on the woman) and despite his ardent desire, he wouldn't hesitate to cleave off the head of his so called love (or put a knife in her hand so she can do the job herself). And that is only one of the things that bothered me about him. I honestly resent him.There are so many loose ends and so many bits and parts of the story that don't seem to connect. I suppose it is normal as this is only the first book of the series but still, by the end of it, I ended up having more questions than answers.All in all, I am not sure I will continue with the series. The concept of the future Earth with the dying Sun is great and there are lots of little hints of greatness to come dropped along the way.If you don't balk at dark stuff, don't mind dense flowery prose and are not quesy you could give this a try. It's supposed to be one of those either love or hate books. For me it was neither. It was just sort of "meh".

  • Robyn
    2018-08-23 15:46

    3.5 for personal enjoyment, 4.5 for depth of writing and research. While constantly impressed with the references and allusions littered through the story and the resonance of the world Wolfe builds, the book in the end failed to engage my emotions alongside my brain.

  • Nick
    2018-09-08 09:53

    There are certain books that can be considered life-changing experiences. Gene Wolfe is an author who has written one of those for me. The Shadow of the Torturer may very well be my favorite fantasy book of all-time if you pinned me down and forced me to give you an answer. I first read it in my early twenties, and recently picked it up again because I wanted to visit the world of Urth again. In many ways, The Shadow of the Torturer has everything that I look for in a great read: awesome world-building, post-apocalyptic setting, mysterious and complicated characters, an engaging and interesting plot, and just a really cool protagonist. The story takes place in what can only be considered a ravaged Earth (called Urth) which is now suffering under a dying sun. The world has been thrown backward into an almost medieval setting and the people both dress and behave in the same manner. However, it is obvious that something is wrong and that underneath everything, the secret to what has occurred will slowly be revealed, whether it be by the end of this book or in subsequent books to follow. This fact alone made me devour the book when I first picked it up all of those years ago. I have always been drawn to a mysterious underlying history in the books that I read. Shadow of the Torturer has that in spades. Severian is a young man who is an apprentice to the Guild of Torturers in a sinister place called the citidel. We get an early impression that Severian does not necessarily relish the opportunity to join the torturers guild, it is just something that he sees as a natural progression of his studies. Severian feels a sense of loyalty to the guild since they raised him after he was left at their doorstep as a child. When a young woman named Thecla is brought to the citidel to be tortured, Severian soon forms a friendship with her. Needless to say, it is frowned upon for any torturer to form any kind of bond with their subjects as their grisly work mandates that no emotion be felt. When it comes time for Thecla to be tortured, Severian commits the ultimate sin of showing mercy to his victim and assists her in committing suicide to end her suffering. At this point, Severian is cast out of the citidel and left to wander the shattered land alone with only his cloak and sword Terminus Est. It is here where the true brilliance of the story takes hold and we get to experience the horrifically beautiful world that Gene Wolfe has created. I will warn most readers that this isn't a light and easy to read fantasy. It requires that you pay attention to every word and every sentence. Things happen that are foreshadows of events that occur later in the book and also the series. But if you feel like reading one of the more impressive monuments of dark fantasy ever imagined, then give Shadow of the Torturer your time. You will not be disappointed.

  • Olivia
    2018-08-27 15:30

    I stumbled over Gene Wolfe and the Book of the New Sun via Neil Gaiman, who was praising it highly. I can definitely see why. The prose is beautiful. Gene Wolfe has a wonderful way with words. It's almost like reading poetry. Not much happens in this first of four books, but it was an easy read, immersive and beautiful. I connected with the narrator almost immediately and can't wait to find out what happens to Severian the Torturer.

  • Sarah Anne
    2018-08-27 07:38

    What fascinated me most about this was the overall tone of the narration. It was sorrowful and introspective and I loved that. I did feel that Sevarian was a bit too trusting of every single person he met! My only real complaint is that there are hints that he's writing this from someplace and for some reason but we're given no information on that. I'm sure we'll hear about it later but I would have appreciated a bit more info.

  • Geoff Sebesta
    2018-08-26 14:34

    I think this was probably one of those books that was so revolutionary at the time that everybody spent thirty years ripping it off and now it seems less original than it really was.Nevertheless, it's a crackin' good book. Wolfe is a rare stylist with the English language, and he has an ability to communicate difficult concepts that approaches genius. There is one part, early in the book, where the main character is looking at a faded old picture in a museum. Somehow Wolfe manages to convey, in two paragraphs of simple description, that we are looking at a picture of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. It is thousands and thousands of years later. All memory or Armstrong and earth has washed away. The character himself has no idea who Armstrong is. Yet somehow Wolfe gets the idea across. That's a truly stunning bit of wordplay there.The vocabulary in this book is so obscure that, when you look up a baffling and unfamiliar word used casually in a sentence of description in such a way that the author makes it clear that you are supposed to know what it means already and maybe just maybe because you don't you might be dumb, usually the first search result is...this book. It's equally charming and annoying.This book is unabashedly part of a series, and it does not end; it simply stops at a cliffhanger. If you read this book and you like it, you will probably have to read the whole series.

  • Mark
    2018-09-05 15:35

    I have very strong memories of this book. I picked it more or less at random years and years ago when I used to have the time to wander aimlessly through a bookstore and explore new titles and authors. The chronicles of Severian (there are four books in this series, I think) were so unlike any kind of fantasy book I'd read that I was really haunted by them, especially the first book. There are images in it, scenes, that actually live up to that word that is so overused now: "surreal." The setting is a future Earth so far in the future that our civilization isn't even a memory. Severian is a young member of the Torturer's guild, that serves a state somewhat like ancient Rome, yet with magical and futuristic machines and architecture. I've reread the series a few times over the years and find it the same as always--ethereal, mysterious, and as vividly compelling as any dreamworld could be. If you're looking for something beyond the typical JRR Tolkien or Harry Potter rip-offs, try this one: if only to experience Gene Wolfe's unique storytelling and rather beautiful prose style.

  • Kaitlin
    2018-08-31 14:37

    Wow... this book took me a VERY long time to plod my way slowly through and it was certainly not an easy read. This is regarded by many great writers and readers to be a fantastic SF book and the basis for a lot of modern interpretations and influences in the genre, for me, it was a bit of a messy and convoluted story regarding a torturer who wouldn't stop rambling.Whilst I can certainly appreciate aspects of this writing, for example Gene has a wonderfully lyrical prose which makes Death sound lovely and Life dismal, or vice versa depending on what he wishes to get across, it's SO long... Instead of using the writing style to enhance the storyline and plot, I truly feel like the style took over the story itself, so much so that the enjoyment was somewhat sucked out of it and replaced with irritation and aggravation. The story starts off well, it's about Severian who is a young member in the Torturer's Guild and he's training to become a master. The practises within the Guild were interesting and creepy to learn about and the matter of fact way that torture was spoken about gave a chill to the book. The story slowly progresses to where Severian is in a graveyard and overhears a conversation he should not have which results in a fight and Severian helps some wanted people to escape... Now, whilst all that happens right at the start and is pretty exciting, the middle section of the book becomes SO convoluted and full of meaningless natter and weird story lines that I just did not get along with it.The story is a very peculiar one and the world is certainly unique, if confusing. There are all sorts of practises which are commonplace there but our main character (and indeed us too) don't know about them and he quickly ends up in all sorts of strange troubles. To be truly honest I'm not sure if I fully even understood a lot of the middle section of the book because it's just so messy and filled with such randomness and wordiness that I'm not sure how anyone but the author can truly claim to understand it.I feel like this is the sort of book which, with a lot of study and breaking it down and analysing it, would be an interesting and cool read. However, from the point of view of a fantasy lover who just enjoys a good story or cool characters or an awesome world, it had splashes of each, and not enough of any to be a good book.I can see why and appreciate why many people do believe this to be a great book and I have been told that the series gets better as it goes, but for me, this was just a struggle, and although some sections were enticing and interesting, they seemed always to be out of context and distant from the other sections which bored me so... I wouldn't probably recommend this as a starting place with Wolfe for sure, but if you're all about flowery writing and not about the story, characters or plot then maybe this is for you. I know I will not be picking up the second volume any time soon (although I do have it) because reading this was such a headache at times that I need a long break, however, despite the bad feelings with the book as a whole it still manages to entice me and the story of Severian is one where I want to see what happens... maybe one day I will, but for now this book gets only a 2* rating from me, and that's just for some of the flowery writing and the mystery of Severian, not all the other rubbish thrown in...I leave it to you to try and see what you think... I'd be very interested to hear your views too, or if someone can explain what really happened that would be good too :D

  • Ryan Mishap
    2018-09-13 09:47

    Okay, like many an SF book, this plunges us into a nebulous world not wholly rendered--in a grave yard no less. Now that's a good start: the protagonist encounters rebels in the graveyard robbin' bones and then goes back to his guild. The Torturer's Guild, mind. From here, the book drags like a fucking stone weight around your brain as our would be torturer becomes obssessed with a captive and eventually leaves to find some other destiny. I got to the end after hundreds of pages and realized nothing really happened, the plot was dead in the water, and I didn't give a fuck about any of the characters. Hell if I'm going to read the other three books, Gene.

  • Jim
    2018-09-15 09:31

    I tried reading this in paperback a couple of times over the years & it always bored me early on. I thought I'd try it in audio & see if I can get through it since it is a group read. No go. I was alternately bored & horrified. Sick world, boring characters. I made it about 10 chapters, over an hour in. Definitely not for me.That's unfortunate since the alternate group read is Titus Groan which falls into the same category for me.

  • Mladen
    2018-08-25 10:26

    Sjajno kreće, lepo se razvija, odlilčno osmišljeno i onda, kao što to ume da bude slučaj kod Vulfa, razvodnjava se polako.No, vredi - obećava.

  • Nick Tramdack
    2018-09-14 10:28

    Check out these money quotes from the best fantasy novel of the 1980s. Severian, a torturer exiled for the crime of showing mercy, gets involved in a crypto-catholic quest to restart the dying sun."I know little of literary style; but I have learned as I have progressed, and find this art not so much different from my old one as might be thought." ... this begins an even better passage, maybe the best passage, where Severian compares the art of writing to his torturer skills."Dr. Talos leaned toward her as he said this, and it struck me that his face was not only that of a fox (a comparison that was perhaps too easy to make because his bristling reddish eyebrows and sharp nose suggested it at once) but that of a stuffed fox. I have heard those who did for their livelihood say there is no land anywhere in which they can trench without turning up the shards of the past. No matter where the spade turns the soil, it uncovers broken pavements and corroding metal; and scholars write that the kind of sand that artists call polychrome (because flecks of every color are mixed with its whiteness) is actually not sand at all, but the glass of the past, now pounded to powder by aeons of tumbling in the clamorous sea. If there are layers of reality beneath the reality we see, even as there are layers of history beneath the ground we walk upon, then in one of those more profound realities, Dr. Talos's face was a fox's mask on a wall, and I marveled to see it turn and bend now toward the woman, achieving by those motions, which made expression and thought appear to play across it with the shadows of the nose and brows, an amazing and realistic appearance of vivacity."And:"By the use of the language of sorrow I had for the time being obliterated my sorrow—so powerful is the charm of words, which for us reduces to manageable entities all the passions that would otherwise madden and destroy us."

  • Negativni
    2018-09-13 09:36

    Krenuo sam čitati ovaj razvikani klasik sa pogrešnom pretpostavkom da je ovo sf, ili znanstvena fantastika, ali ovo je čisti fantasy. Od ostalih fantasy romana se razlikuje jedino po tome što su ovdje, barem neki, likovi svjesni da njihov svijet ili planet nije jedini i da je samo dio većeg svemira. Uz to ima i par natuknica da je ono što likovi pojme kao magiju možda ustvari napredna tehnologija, jer kako je rekao legendarni A.C. Clark: "svaka dovoljno napredna tehnologija ne može se razlikovati od magije". Kažem likovi ali točnije bi bilo reći glavni lik, jer kroz njegovu naraciju i prisjećanja na prošla vremena pratimo radnju. Koliko sam vidio ni u idućoj knjizi se neće otkriti ništa "iza kulisa" nego samo nastavak radnje koja se ovdje iznenada prekida, tako da ću serijal staviti na stranu do daljnjega, jer mi sa sada čita sf. Ipak, kako se vidi po ocijeni od 4 zvijezdice očito je da nisam razočaran. Svijet romana je dobro izrađen i prezentiran. Tekst je prošaran nama (i prevoditelju - kako se sam Gene Wolfe, autor romana prozvao) nepoznatim riječima, što s jedne strane pridodaje osjećaju da je to potpuno drugačiji svijet ali istovremeno i pomalo iritira jer ne možeš zamisliti većinu scena jer ne znaš ni približno kako bi neke od tih "opisanih" stvari trebale izgledati. Sama radnja je poprilično jednostavna, ali barem se nešto dešava, a i stalno imaš dojam da će postati i "veća" pa te to tjera dalje.. dok ne dođeš do kraja romana. Ipak riječ je o romanu od jedva 250 stranica - takvi se nažalost više ne pišu u fantasy žanru! Najzanimljiviji dio mi je bio kada su skrenuli u svojevrsni interaktivni tematski vrt koji ima zanimljiva svojstva da je veći iznutra nego izvana.. nažalost tu se ne otkrivaju detalji kako i zašto ali svejedno zanimljivo. Uglavnom zabavan i neepski (sudeći po ovom prvom dijelu) fantasy roman.

  • Xara Niouraki
    2018-09-03 15:31

    I finally decided to drop this series. If I need to learn new, difficult words that I'll never use in a sentence, I'll buy a dictionary. It will be more interesting.

  • Mark
    2018-09-12 09:41

    This is pretty much science fiction at its most literate. I had read the New Sun series before (about 20 years ago) and I had forgotten most of the details, and was not as mature or discerning as I am now. I decided to revisit the series, using a potential Goodreads reviews as the excuse for my re-reading."The Shadow of the Torturer" is the first book in a four book series called "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe. The book is of a science fiction subgenre called "Dying Earth" after the novels/short stories by Jack Vance, who arguably invented the genre.The PlotThe setting of the book is on Earth far in the future. So far in the future that the sun is beginning to turn red. The main character is a man named Severin. He is a member of the guild of torturers and has been ever since he was a baby. He grows up into an apprentice torturer but makes a potentially fatal mistake. Instead of torturing him to death, the guild lets him go so that he can be a sort of free-roaming executioner. His first assignment is to be the carnifex of Thrax, the "city of windowless rooms".The plot is told by Severin himself. He is narrating his story to the author. Severin tells the audience towards the beginning of the novel that he has a perfect memory. He can remember everything exactly as it happened down to the smallest detail. He can even remember his dreams. So, the entire tale is told from his perspective.The GoodThere's a lot of good here. The plot is intriguing. The characters are compelling, and the language of the novel is really good. Some authors use language as a way of communicating the plot and characters alone. Wofle not only uses words to describe plot and characters, but as colors for a paintbrush of language. For example, the following is typical of Severin's asides:"A crowd is not the sum of the individuals who comprise it. Rather it is a species of animal, without language or real consciousness, born when they gather, dying when they depart."These sort of passages are, in my opinion, what causes the book to transcend from a mere genre story to becoming literature. The character of Severin seems almost sociopathic in his casual disregard for inflicting torture on others, but still remains sympathetic. We're rooting for him. I think it's because we know he's not a bad guy, he's just a guy doing his job, and his job is hurting people.It seems that if any author wants to create a mature fantasy world, he has to invent terms for things in that world; usually to the extent that we need a glossary in the back of the book in which to turn when we're lost. Readers of J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Robert Jordan will be used to that. Gene Wolfe tackles this by using archaic and obscure language. In the back of the book he explains that Severin narrated this tale to him using a language that had not yet been spoken and therefore, he used whatever terms he could find in the unabridged dictionary to translate it to English. I think this is ingenious: creating new terminology by re-using very old terminology, and it works.For example, the text mentions an alitcamelus. When I looked it up, it translates to an extinct species of American camel from the Miocene era. So, is this some new creature that is very similar to an alticamelus, or is it an actual alticamelus, which has been brought back using some kind of advanced genetic science?It's also cool to try to figure out what evidence of our modern day exists for Severin in the far-flung future. For example, he describes a picture of a man in a silver suit with a helmet on, holding a flag that was way too stiff to be natural, standing on a rocky field with nighttime stars behind him. Is this a picture of an Apollo astronaut? Or is it something else? I had fun trying to figure it out.The Not-So-GoodIt's not an easy read. If you're lying on the beach on vacation, you probably should go with something else. This is not something you just blow through casually. I don't think it's a bad thing, but someone else might. The characters don't talk like normal people and the author uses obscure, archaic words, some of which do not have reliable definitions that could be found easily. I would counter this argument by saying that people in the far future could talk like that or that the vernacular was lost between Severin's account and the author's translation of it. However, that doesn't make the language that they use and what they say any more accessible to the average person of today.I can't really think of any really bad things about this book. It's really excellent.ConclusionI think anyone who has the opinion that science fiction is not a literary genre should try reading this book. I think they'll be pleasantly surprised by what they find. I think that if you're seeking an active read, not a casual one, that you should give this book and this series a try. It is an excellent read.Obscure Words I found in my reading of The Shadow of the Torturerchatelaine -- the mistress of an elegant or fashionable householdautarch -- an absolute ruler; autocrat; tyrant.heirophant -- any interpreter of sacred mysteries or esoteric principles.optimate -- A nobleman or aristocrat; a chief man in a state or city.lictor -- one of a body of attendants on chief magistrates, who preceded them carrying the fasces and whose duties included executing the sentences of criminals. castellar -- belonging to or suggestive of a castle.fuliginous/fuligin -- sooty, having a dark or dusky color.psychopomp -- a person who conducts spirits or souls to the other world.fiacre -- a small horse-drawn carriage.palatinate -- the territory under the jurisdiction of a vassal exercising royal privileges.preceptress -- a woman who is an instructor; teacher; tutor. alticamelus -- a genus of large long-necked American Miocene camels; extinct.chiliarch -- the military commander of 1000 men. paracoita -- a female sex partner.carnifex -- an executioner or hangman.simar -- a loose, lightweight jacket or robe for women.genicon -- a fantasy sexual partner.scopolagna -- A woman whose appearance others find stimulating in the extreme.estrapade -- The action of a horse, when, to get rid of his rider, he rears, plunges, and kicks furiously.pandours -- brutal, marauding soldiers. Looking back on these terms, it may look like there's strong sexual content in the book, but there really isn't. There aren't any detailed sex scenes...if that kind of thing concerns you.