[Free books] The Shadow of the TorturerAuthor Gene Wolfe – Stg2bio.co

The Shadow of the Torturer is the first volume in the four volume series, The Book of the New Sun It 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 and follows his subsequent journey out of his home city of Nessus.

10 thoughts on “The Shadow of the Torturer

  1. J.G. Keely J.G. Keely says:

    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 linear and predictable.I appreciated his created language 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 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 than he differs from them His protagonist started off interestingly enough an apparently weak and intelligent man, which made it all the 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 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 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 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 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, 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 unto the breach.My Fantasy Book Suggestions

  2. Lyn Lyn says:

    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 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 and for whatever reason I find myself on the outside looking in, never really buying in April 2019 Mr Wolfe has passed on but his incredible work lives on.

  3. Mark Lawrence Mark Lawrence says:

    RIP Gene Wolfe, who died today.For 38 years I was under the belief that I had read this book and just couldn t remember much about it.I got it from my school library in 1980 I know that much.I am now sure that this is the first time I ve read the book and that back in 1980 I read maybe 10% of it, reaching the first horrific if rather dry and all the horrible for that torture scene basically the only memory I have of the book I have always found torture, both in real life and in fiction, deeply disturbing I guess that I read this one scene and assumed that there would be many in store the book is about a torturer after all It turns out that my assumption was wrong and there are no gruesome torture scenes.In a way this has echoes of my own debut where a good number of readers reached the early off screen rape and assumed incorrectly that there would be Some have even run with this false assumption and presented it as fact, describing that book as full of unrelenting rape.So, yes a book about a young man raised in a guild of torturers.This is work of literary fiction as much as it is a fantasy book The prose is powerful and styled in an archaic fashion with a great many 10 words and a number of invented words with classical roots It left me with the impression that Wolfe had hit the thesaurus hard but with an erudite discrimination.I would describe the style as Joseph Conrad meets Charles Dickens.For the first third of the book the story has considerable momentum We are learning about the torturers guild and the world beyond their doors through the eyes of apprentice torturer, Severian There is a growing dilemma as Severian becomes entangled with a woman who is imprisoned in the guild s tower and who may well be sentenced to torture then death in due course Naturally this leads to mounting tension We are also intrigued by Severian s chance involvement with the lead figure in some kind of civil revolt.As things come to a head Severian leaves the tower to commence a long journey Oddly, it is when things start moving that the story loses momentum The plot vanishes and we are led though a long series of vignettes The events that follow Severian s departure appear largely random and disconnected He encounters a variety of colourful characters and gets embroiled in what seems to be part of a large plot but turns out to be far random and less significant What saves the book from being dismissed as aimless is that the imagination on display combined with the intelligence of the writing and quality of the world building, constitute a good read on their own.The world of Urth and single vast city in which the book unrolls its story, have an unimaginably long history in which many civilisations have risen and fallen, and epochs have come and gone The result is a rich mix of technology and decay, both social and physical It is hard to tell where the present stands in terms of the heights of the world s technological mastery Do the current inhabitants understand the technology they use The story trickles along and ends in mid flow with many outstanding questions to lead you on to the next book should you feel you need to know the answers Most of these questions centre on the world building I want to know about the leadership of this city empire and about the conflict partly revealed at the start of the book.One thing that struck me as odd is the Severian seems to be an incredible rarity, i.e a traveling torturer, and yet everyone seems to recognise his profession from his garb.Additionally, and this may well be intentional, the contrast seems odd between an early scene where a housemaid is tortured for no obvious reason I think her employer was accused of treason or some such , and near the end when a man murders nine people and Severian is employed to behead him which, yes may require some skill but not a lifetime training in the art of torture but the murderer isn t so much as beaten.Anyway, a book written in a slightly dry literary style but full of rich characters and great imagination It kept me reading and I am glad to have read it, but on the other hand I never found myself emotionally engaged and wasn t convinced by any of Severian s attachments to the women he encounters.Join my 3 emails a year newsletter prizes

  4. Kevin Kelsey Kevin Kelsey says:

    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.

  5. aPriL does feral sometimes aPriL does feral sometimes says:

    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 StyxThe 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 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 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.

  6. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:

    The first volume of The Book of the New Sun, The Shadow of the Torturer, is a traditional picaresque fantasy, in which a young man, going forth to seek his fortune, gains mentors, weapons, magic jewels, and companions along the way But this is a picaresque fantasy with a difference, for our hero Severian is no wide eyed country boy from the shire, but an apprentice torturer, thoroughly schooled in his trade He speaks of his young life as a thing long passed, and relates his adventures carefully, guardedly, like someone not completely trustworthy, someone re writing his own history The world he shows us, which at first seems charmingly although morbidly medieval, gradually reveals itself to be the poor remnant of a great modern civilization in decline perhaps it is ours , lit by the fading light of a dying sun.Although we sense Severian is untrustworthy, we still believe in his world, for he describes it vividly, evocatively in the superb prose of Gene Wolfe His scenic descriptions are brief, but vivid, immersing the reader in a world of ancient buildings and haunted landscapes, of torturer s cells filled with strange device, with fantastic gardens where the dueller s weapons the sharp leaved flowers grow.One of the novel s eccentricities is that each of its pages is peppered with obscure latinate nouns substantives even an old word hound like myself does not know but they help to create a context that is once alien and inviting My advice don t bother to look these words up Although they are always actual words, their definitions never quite fit the context They are primarily here to summon an atmosphere, and they do that very well The Shadow of the Torturer ends inconclusively But that s OK, because I m coming back for .

  7. Vit Babenco Vit Babenco says:

    The Shadow of the Torturer is like a Preraphaelite canvas the ancient perishing world, painted in unbelievably vivid but at the same time sepulchral colours, is washed in the sanguine rays of a long fatal sundown.But Gene Wolfe limns his painting 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 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 living is unexpectedly 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.There is always some moment in any life that becomes a point of departure

  8. Chris Chris says:

    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 by reading every flowery word I d have just been 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.

  9. Nick T. Borrelli Nick T. Borrelli says:

    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 impressive monuments of dark fantasy ever imagined, then give Shadow of the Torturer your time You will not be disappointed.

  10. Markus Markus says:

    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.