The Sword of the Lictor
British Fantasy Award 1983, Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1983. World Fantasy Award nominee 1983, Hugo Award nominee 1983, Nebula Award nominee 1982.
Ursula K. Le Guin called The Shadow of the Torturer "the first
volume of a masterpiece." It has been nominated for all the major
fantasy and science fiction awards and has gathered praise far and wide
as probably the most important work to appear in the field in the last
ten years. The Claw of the Conciliator has been received with
matching acclaim and the excitement mounts as more and more people are
captured by the magic of a writer working at the peak of his form and
creating something "totally original, new, incomparable."
The Book of the New Sun is set a million years in the future of our Earth, on a planet transformed in ways inconceivable to our primitive technologies. What at first seems like magic turns out to be the remains of forgotten colossal technologies; our own civilization is so distant as to be no longer even a memory.
The third volume, The Sword of the Lictor, continues the self-told tale of Severian, the torturer, and leads us both farther afield from the beginning and closer to the solution of the many mysteries posed in the opening volumes.
Severian, exiled for the "sin" of mercy, has arrived at his assigned post as Lictor in Thrax, the City of Windowless Rooms, and seems perpared to settle into the active, though somewhat grisly, life of a government functionary. Unsettling things begin to happen, however. His companion, Dorcas, leaves him and returns to the place where their journey together began, the Lake of Birds, where the dead lie. Severian is pursued by a deadly beast. He has begun to quesiton his role as Torturer and finally rejects his position and responsibility by letting a woman go free and fleeing the city himself.
He heads into the mountains, survives another encounter with Agia, who has been trailing him in her continuing effort to exact vengeance for the death of her brother, and continues his flight with a young boy, his namesake, orphaned in an attack by an alzabo. Deeper into the mountains they go until they are captured by a band of men who wear metal talons on their fingers, only to be saved inadvertently by the monster who destroyed the boy's family. Further on, they enter a vast deserted city and accidentally revive a man whose body is inhabited by the soul of an ancient enemy of the Conciliator. The boy is killed but Severian kills the man, discharging an ancient debt of vengeance to the originator of his hidden weapon, the Claw.
Alone again, he finds an isolated lake where shore-dwellers under the rule of the hidden master of a nearby castle wage a continuing war with a people who spend their lives on floating islands of reeds. Severian joins the floating people and helps them attack the castle, where he once again meets Baldanders and Doctor Talos and learns the secret of their relationship. But in the final battle Severian loses control of his body and wanders, all-unknowing, into his own yet-unguessable future destiny.
With this series Gene Wolfe has come into his own as one of the true masters of science fiction and fantasy by creating a fascinating and absorbing tale that combines the best and most exciting aspects of both kinds of story in a truly unique and original way. Those who have not yet taken the opportunity to enter his world can only imagine the pleasures to be found therein and those who have done so have the privilege of recommending a truly excellent and rewarding reading experience to their friends.
Gene Rodman Wolfe (1931-2019) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He was noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith. He was a prolific short-story writer and novelist and won many science fiction and fantasy literary awards.
Wolfe is best known for his Book of the New Sun series (four volumes, 1980–83), the first part of his "Solar Cycle". In 1998, Locus magazine ranked it the third-best fantasy novel published before 1990 based on a poll of subscribers that considered it and several other series as single entries.
The Book of the New Sun consists of four primary works, and includes one additional book that complement the series but is not considered mandatory reads. The current recommended reading order for the series is provided below.
3520 ratings, 260 reviews, 0 posts
The two previous books were good and so is this book. In my opinion The Sword of Lictor is among the best science fiction and fantasy books I've ever read. It's original and interesting. I can highly recommend this book to all fans of Gene Wolfe. It's definitely worth reading, if you like Wolfe's books.