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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Fooled!
Some Wolfe fans find the Long Sun books disappointing. At first glance, the writing doesn't seem to be of the same beauty and complexity as that in the books narrated by Severian; the philosophical and metaphysical insights here seem less breathtaking. However, this is a Gene Wolfe novel, so appearances are expected to be deceiving. Patera Silk alone is worth the price of...
Published on November 18, 2000 by Amazon Customer

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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as "The Book of the New Sun"
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Book of the New Sun", Wolfe's earlier epic. I bought both the "Litany" and the "Epiphany" volumes of the Long Sun, and read them together over a couple of weeks. While Wolfe can often write amazing prose, and has fascinating characters, his plot development often leaves the reader feeling confused. The "Long...
Published on February 20, 2003 by Stephen J. Mytyk


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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Fooled!, November 18, 2000
By 
This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
Some Wolfe fans find the Long Sun books disappointing. At first glance, the writing doesn't seem to be of the same beauty and complexity as that in the books narrated by Severian; the philosophical and metaphysical insights here seem less breathtaking. However, this is a Gene Wolfe novel, so appearances are expected to be deceiving. Patera Silk alone is worth the price of admission, and the plot of Long Sun is Wolfe's best yet, intimately connected to the presentation of the varied and fascinating cast of characters. THE BOOK OF THE LONG SUN rewards rereading perhaps even more than most of Wolfe's work.
It is nice that all four volumes of this series are back in print. THE BOOK OF THE SHORT SUN, now two-thirds complete, may be Wolfe's best work to date (high praise indeed), and THE BOOK OF THE LONG SUN should be read before beginning on SHORT SUN.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as "The Book of the New Sun", February 20, 2003
This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Book of the New Sun", Wolfe's earlier epic. I bought both the "Litany" and the "Epiphany" volumes of the Long Sun, and read them together over a couple of weeks. While Wolfe can often write amazing prose, and has fascinating characters, his plot development often leaves the reader feeling confused. The "Long Sun" is more grating in this respect than was the "New Sun". Wolfe constantly brings chapters to a close with the characters in a moment of crisis. He begins the subsequent chapter by leaping forward in time, and the characters are engaged in completely different activities from where the previous chapter left them. There is eventually an explanation as to how they got out of their predicament, but we only come to know this through their intermittant discussions of what occurred. This technique was used right up to the end of the work, where vast chunks of story seem to have been excised. The reader is left only with a confused glimpse of what happened, since we are forced to interpret events through the ignorant eyes of the inhabitants of the whorl.
I don't mind having to work to get through a book, if the reward is sufficient. The "New Sun" was not an easy read, either. However, it is not a compliment to the author to say that one must re-read his work several times to understand it. If that is the case, it simply means that the author is not writing clearly. And that is most definitely the case in "The Book of the Long Sun."
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sun of an epic, part 2, April 7, 2007
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This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
A couple decades ago, I remember tuning into a panel discussion show on TV because it featured Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison, two authors who I really enjoyed reading. There was also a third author on this program, who for many years, I essentially thought of as "the other guy." It would take till just a couple years ago for me to figure out that this other guy, namely Gene Wolfe, was also worth reading, in ways completely different than either Asimov or Ellison.

Epiphany of the Long Sun is the concluding half of Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun. Like the previous volume, Litany of the Long Sun, Epiphany is actually an omnibus of two books in the Long Sun tetralogy: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus of the Long Sun. Altogether, the four books are over 1200 pages of complex plotting. (The Long Sun books themselves fit into the middle of a larger sequence including the Book of the New Sun and the Book of the Short Sun.)

As Litany had concluded, the protagonist Silk had been elevated, almost against his will, into the position of Calde, a high-ranking position that is half administration, half monarchy. In Calde of the Long Sun, civil war erupts in the city-state of Viron, as not all people are happy with Silk's promotion. By Exodus, things stabilize a bit (although not all is settled) and the focus is more on the nature and destiny of the Whorl itself.

The Whorl is the space colony/generation ship that Silk's people have inhabited for centuries. The societies that exist within this Whorl are both advanced and rather medieval, with both high-end technology alongside more primitive devices. Silk, who also acts as a kind of priest known as a patera and as an augur who sees the future in animal entrails, has become something of a prophet as well. In the Whorl, gods are worshipped and occasionally even seen, but Silk is driven primarily by an outsider god known, quite naturally, as the Outsider.
I can only scratch the surface of this densely plotted story, and there's too much to really summarize well. Wolfe is a good writer, but this is not always an easy read. The Book of the Long Sun is ambitious and has a certain artistic merit to it, but for all its admirable qualities, I personally find it to not be great but merely very good, worthy of a high four stars. There isn't really anything wrong with it, but it never completely won me over either (I guess it's a chemistry thing).

Do not start this book without having read Litany of the Long Sun. The two volumes are really one long story and the breaks between volumes (and the books within) are more arbitrary than conclusive. With that caveat, if you are a fan of science fiction, this is a worthwhile read.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hell to read but glad to have read it, September 7, 2004
By 
This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
(note: this review encompasses the entire Book of the Long Sun)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS:

If your tastes in speculative fiction are refined to the point that you can no longer stomach the latest Star Trek novelization (time travel as deus ex machina in every single plot line is now enforced by Executive Order) you would serve your palate well to indulge in Wolfe's masterful opus. Please forgive the exuberant hyperbole, but quite frankly his tetralogy is the Ulysses of speculative fiction. A person could devote an entire lifetime to unraveling its mysteries. It will test your patience, will and mental ability. The reader, like an augur, will need to divine clues from the entrails of Wolfe's twisted lexicon. (Disclosure: we may have read that last sentence somewhere else, so if you are the original author, send us a note and we will cite you. Until then, we will claim it as our own).

WHY YOU SHOULD PASS:

Wolfe has always been into punishing his readers with his characteristic obtuseness, but in Long Sun he takes his lexiconic sadism to a whole new level. This is a very dense and layered book. Not only is it difficult to grasp what is occurring at a given moment, but as soon as a chapter begins to build some steam and we begin to empathize with the characters, the plot abruptly halts and switches to one of the other, various parallel plot lines. He keeps his characters at arm's length from the reader. We never get the chance to connect emotionally with any of them. The only character in the book that we seem to identify with isn't even human. Oreb the talking bird can communicate more in his disyllabic utterances than the other characters can in pages of dialogue.

His main characters also have a tendency to speak in a very stylized slang that is difficult to understand. Others may speak in the Queen's English, but employ extremely annoying mannerisms interspersing their words with non-words such as "ah, uh, um, ahem, etc." in dialogue passages that may continue for several pages. These parts cannot be "skimmed" because they may contain important plot points. The abused reader is then required to slog through these frustrating lines. Any reader who manages to finish every word of these books should be mailed a Merit Badge by the publisher.

A novel needs to be more than an exercise in sterile word-smithing and genius plot-development. At some point, the reader wants to actually enjoy what they are reading. Stephen King put it best when he wrote about the unspoken agreement between the author and reader. If the reader agrees to commit the time to follow the author to the end of the story, the author promises to make it worth it. This tetralogy is a serious time commitment, but in the end it is too long a journey to undertake with strangers.

READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW AT INCHOATUS.COM
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incredible wordsmith, March 1, 2001
By 
Big Poppy "Mac" (Ft. Mitchell, KY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
If your familiar with Mister Wolfe, these two books are further evidence of his masterful use of the language of the "whorl". He invents and uses words to fit every situation and he uses the language to paint some of the most believable environments in science fiction. I must admit to being completely taken in by the "Maytera's", the "sacred windows" and the azoth. Wolfe books are not the " can't put this down" variety - rather they almost demand you put them down and contemplate what you just read and what the words actually meant. If you're a patient reader and fascinated by incredibly detailed descriptions of "new whorls" and their inhabitants, you will thoroughly enjoy these.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Long Review: Part Two, December 23, 2012
By 
Davis Keck (Hangzhou, China) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
The last half of the Book of the Long Sun was as good as the first. The characterization continued to be excellent, and I particularly enjoyed watching Maytera Mint and Quetzal's characters as they grew, not to mention Silk himself. I also enjoyed Wolfe's exploration of religion, specifically Catholicism and pagan gods, and the idea of a truly righteous character living in a realistic world. The themes of good and evil were presented quite originally, not as outside forces but as embodied in us all, something not apparent until the end.

By the Exodus of the Long Sun, the last book(though the second half of this physical copy), Wolfe once again returns to his traditional story-telling techniques of covering much more ground than his word count implies. This is not, however, a bad thing. Scenes seem to be skipped over, especially important ones, and an unwary reader may find himself lost. However, with three full books before Exodus from the Long Sun, the reader has built up enough confidence and understanding to earn the trust of the author. This last book also reveals that the third person omniscient style is not exactly third person, and definitely not omniscient. Instead of being cheap or feeling out of place, Wolfe has intricately woven these shifts into the story without ruining any of the earlier work.

Unlike other Wolfe stories, where I sometimes feel lost for chapters, I was able to follow what happened logically. For example, Mint and some soldiers get attacked by dog-like things in the tunnels, though the action never appears "on screen." This scene, along with countless others, is not directly experienced by the reader, but through careful observation can be deduced.

I was hungry until the end to learn what was going to happen next, for plot reasons, deep characterizations, and phenomenal world building. If you are a fan of Wolfe, don't worry; despite the ease of reading, this series leaves much room for theories and unanswered questions.

The inevitable question: is this series as good as the Book of the New Sun? No. This series is much more accessible and easy to read, but because of that, it loses some of the resonance and depth that the New Sun offers.

As a whole, this series is a great work of science fantasy. The Book of the Long Sun is about how the world we live in is broken and inadequate. Nothing in the world lasts. Scientists are only rumors, and machines must run on fish oil. Political leaders try to gain immortality through becoming chems, but they too are subject to death. Even the gods themselves can die, and are revealed to be a petty quarreling family. In the new paradise of an unsettled world, something dark flits across the sun. Evil is, on one level or another, in everything. Only at the end does Silk realize that it is not peace, leadership, or change that can make him whole, but love.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prime Wolfe (part 2), August 31, 2006
This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
New characters and threats are revealed. Patera Silk continues to grow in unexpected ways. Mysteries are solved only to open up new complexities. If you have already enjoyed other works by Gene Wolfe, you will be right at home here. Pay close attention, read huge chunks at a time, and just enjoy both the story and the language. I will add these volumes to my "read again" list.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better on the second read, February 9, 2009
By 
Bob Nolin (Bethel Park, PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
I recently decided to re-read the Long Sun books, since they were sitting on the shelf from a decade ago, and all I could remember of them was that they were good. And that I had been somewhat confused by them. So, resolving to read slowly and thoughtfully, I read them again. If anything, I think I enjoyed them more this time, though that probably has more to do with me growing older than anything else. They're not perfect (thus the 4 stars), and Wolfe does play some games that I find a bit annoying, but that's easily overlooked. For instance, one could be mightily pissed that, after reading a third-person narrative for 1200 pages, one reads that the entire story was actually "written" by one of the secondary characters in the book. Take that seriously, and you have to re-evaluate the entire sequence based on that character's limited knowledge of events. So, I just decided that was a device of Wolfe's to lead into the next trilogy (The Short Sun books) and ignored it. Other than a few unexplained oddities here and there (e.g., What is the significance of Maytera Marble's various names, why does she lie about being originally named Molybdenum?), the book (it's one long book, just as Lord of the Rings is one book) is quite straight-forward and a great story. We never do find out (in this book, anyway) who the gods really are, though we can guess. Silk is a fascinating character, and if you don't find that to be true, this book is not for you. This is Silk's story, and he likes to talk. Boy does he like to talk. He's a very thoughtful, sensitive, and intelligent man, yet he falls in love with a whore who couldn't be more different from him. She's about as deep as a puddle. Not sure what Wolfe is trying to say there. There's hints of Wolfe's Roman Catholicism all over the place. Silk's religion is like a Catholic-Pagan hybrid. It's fascinating to read, if you treat it almost like an archeological puzzle. Where did the Whorl (the generation starship the book takes place in) come from, and who launched it? Where is it going? Is it off course, or broken? The Cargo (Silk and everyone else inside the Whorl) have lost much knowledge of their own past, and we are limited in our understanding just as they are. Over the course of the book, we see Silk grow from a shy parish priest into a great leader, and a similar change occurs in one of the "sisters," Maytera Mint. It's interesting to see how belief can help people grow and become who they are meant to be, even though we know (and Silk knows, towards the end) that the gods are not really as we think they are. This is, after all, science fiction, not fantasy. It's some of the most subtle and well-written fiction of any kind that I've read in quite a while. Just prepare to take your time with it, like a fine meal.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chaotic and disappointing conclusion to the Long Sun series, April 27, 2010
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This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
By the conclusion of the second book in the LONG SUN series, our hero -- brave, naive, clever, wise, reverent, young Patera Silk -- had been granted a vision by the god called the Outsider and conversed with other gods; had begun consorting with thieves and prostitutes; had committed robbery and attempted murder and had killed in self-defense; had fallen in love, been badly injured, acquired a sentient talking bird, and found that he had a natural knack for swordfighting; had discovered that the doctor caring for him was a spy from the matriarchal city of Trivigaunte; had learned that the ruling Ayuntamiento (city council) of his native city of Viron was run by insane, power-hungry robots (more or less); and had been popularly acclaimed Calde (mayor) in opposition to the Ayuntamiento.

Having subjected Silk and his compatriots to all of these wild and improbable events and revelations over the space of a few days, Wolfe could have chosen to settle things down in the third book of the series, CALDE OF THE LONG SUN. Instead, he ramps up the civil war that was developing at the end of book two, introduces a huge army of women from Trivigaunte, nominally on Silk's side, and practically doubles the already-large cast of significant characters. This is not a positive development, as I found keeping track of who's who, what's what, and why's that to be beyond my meager mental capabilities. Worse, there's little payoff to the additional complexitly; most of the book is spent in pointless dithering, blathering, bantering, and rumination.

This continues in EXODUS FROM THE LONG SUN. Early on, however, we learn that the gods (or at least one of them) want people to begin abandoning the "whorl" and exploring nearby planets. As we learned in the first three books, the whorl is falling apart and many of the supplies intended to support colonization of a new world have been foolishly squandered. Mounting a planetary excursion is going to be no small feat in a spaceship where nineteenth century technology rules. This effort could be interesting, but Wolfe doesn't seem to care about it very much. Thus, EXODUS becomes increasingly disconnected and disjointed towards the end. It's very like a film that was edited together after a quarter of the scenes were lost through careless handling.

The good: Wolfe's sharp, thoughtful, satirical treatment of religion, religious faith, and religious and political corruption remains provocative, even if it does not add much to what he achieved in the first two books. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to sustain the reader's interest.

The bad: Wolfe can't hold his focus in the second half of THE BOOK OF THE LONG SUN; there's too much going on, most of it pointless. Readers who were hoping for big revelations about the whorl, its mission, and its objectives will be disappointed. The journey is ... the only reward you're going to get. How's that for an epiphany?

The verdict: Sigh. Good enough to buy, disappointing enough to kvetch about at length.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just "science fiction", June 21, 2002
By 
"jeff17946" (Germantown, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4) (Paperback)
I started reading The Book of The Long Sun series after a professional re4viewer called Gene Wolfe "the best science fiction writer you've never heard of". I was drawn into the first book (Nightside The Long Sun) by the first line, and I have never enjoyed reading any novel more than these.
The Long Sun storyline is epic -- It's essentially about the end of a world and the struggle for a new beginning, told in the most intimate "ground level" way possible. It's about religion, power, intrigue, and even romance. The lead character, Silk, is a young man who posseses wisdom and power he does not know he has, and it's wonderful to watch him develop. One must read these books in order, as each volume of the four picks up where the previous one left off.
Wolfe creates a world (he calls it the "whorl") slowly and carefully, starting with wonderful human (and animal) characters, allowing the reader to learn by observation rather than by description. The story is intensly human, and the technology which makes this "science" fiction is revealed bit by bit. One starts by thinking the "whorl" is almost medieval, but Wolfe's misdirection here is masterful.
Truly, the Long Sun series is among the best fiction -- not just science fiction -- I have ever read. It's up there with Tolkien, Bradbury, and Asimov for sure.
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