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The Sorcerer's House Hardcover – March 16, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076532458X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765324580
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,258,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

World Fantasy Award–winning novelist Wolfe (An Evil Guest) spins a complex, spellbinding web of otherworldly sorcery and hauntings. When scholar and ex-con Baxter Dunn arrives in the Midwest town of Medicine Man, he learns that a mysterious benefactor has deeded him a rambling old house. As the building grows around him, Bax encounters a number of wonders and terrors, including family secrets, windows into Faerie, and a murderous animal dubbed the Hound of Horror. However, the greatest challenge Bax faces may be his twin brother's jealousy and rage. Both terrifying and touching, this book of wonders speaks eloquently about the nature of responsibility and family, but Wolfe's unforgettable world is marred by stereotypes—a flighty and submissive Japanese woman, a scandalmongering journalist, a rapacious and sadistic dwarf—and a rushed, incoherent ending. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“A complex, spellbinding web of otherworldly sorcery and hauntings. Both terrifying and touching, this book of wonders speaks eloquently about the nature of responsibility and family.”
—Publishers Weekly

The Sorcerer’s House is, without qualification, a masterpiece. A fascinating novel that repays close reading with a tale of delightful subtlety, wit, and true insight.”
—SFRevu.com

Praise for Gene Wolfe:

“If any writer from within genre fiction ever merited the designation Great Author, it is surely Wolfe.”
—The Washington Post Book World

“Gene Wolfe is as good a writer as there is today. I feel a little bit like a musical contemporary attempting to tell people what’s good about Mozart.”
—The Chicago Sun-Times
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Gene Wolfe is winner of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and many other awards. In 2007, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He lives in Barrington, Illinois.

Customer Reviews

Ever the engineer, he invents a new prose style to suit the specs of each new work.
Dmitry Portnoy
All in all Wolfe has written a near masterpiece, and a book which I would highly recommend.
A. Wood
His voice and attitude are so overwhelmingly male that the entire work just felt... off.
Kyle Muntz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Muntz on March 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This new novel by Gene Wolfe is everything we expect of him: complex, surreal, expertly controlled, consistently surprising. Without a doubt, it's one of his best stand-alone works. While I would appreciate another series, it's good to know that Wolfe is still better than everyone else, and that this late in his career, he's still going strong.

In some sense, this strikes me as a return to form. "An Evil Guest", despite a magnificent plot, suffered from a very serious problem: Wolfe simply doesn't write well from a female perspective. His voice and attitude are so overwhelmingly male that the entire work just felt... off. "The Sorcerer's House" is more concise, extremely gripping, and, for lack of a better word, whole.

The epistolary form really plays to Wolfe's strengths. The narrator writes primarily to his brother (who eventually makes an appearance, in the most dramatic fashion), but we are also allowed to see the narrative from other perspectives, producing a dynamic loosely akin to parallax. Much, of course, is concealed, and we are eventually informed that we see only a possible order of events, rather than that in which Bax recorded them himself.

As to the Publisher's Weekly review Amazon has on display, I find it absolutely misleading. There are no stereotypes in this book, or if there are, they're treated subversively in an entirely original context. Moreover, the ending is ambiguous, but not "rushed". As always, Wolfe is in complete control of his material, and forces us to resolve the final chapters on our own.

Altogether, I really enjoyed this book. Gene Wolfe is one of the most accomplished authors writing in any language, and "The Sorcerer's House" does a great job reminding us of that.
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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Dmitry Portnoy VINE VOICE on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wolfe is at best an erstwhile novelist: the heart (and brains) of his oeuvre lie in the magisterial multi-volume epics ("The Sun Sequence" and "The Wizard Knight"), in which he creates and populates entire worlds with a Jehovian fecundity, and in his diabolical short stories (especially the innocuously titled ones like "The Cabin on the Coast," or "The Wrapper"), in which he takes your breath away with a sucker-punch. Reading his long works, you get the sense of watching him juggle chainsaws, jackhammers and electric eels to find that not only has he emerged unscathed (and having grown a couple extra arms) but carved out a unique, intricate sculpture out of a marble block you hadn't realized was there. Reading his short works, you feel you are witnessing a magic trick, where rabbits or elephants vanish, or materialize out of thin air.

Wolfe in medium doses can be less thrilling, due in part to his own program of sensibly treating single volume novels as something less (duh) than multi-volume ones, and in part to his protean nature as a writer: other than a few rhetorical flourishes, such as certain characteristic dialectical elisions in the dialogue, Wolfe does not really have a signature prose style. Ever the engineer, he invents a new prose style to suit the specs of each new work. And page by page, his single-volume novels by necessity lack either the formal variety of his short story collections or the baroque expansiveness of his epic works. His epics are jungles, his stories hothouses. His novels are gardens. Generic constraints cause their language to be well-tended, well-manicured, and, well, (God forgive me) Midwestern.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Sorceror's House is a beautifully subtle new novel by master fantasy and SF author Gene Wolfe. The novel's protagonist is a recently released convict who, seemingly by complete coincidence, comes into possession of an abandoned house. As he moves in, he discovers that the house already has a few odd inhabitants...

A large part of the enjoyment of this novel is the process of discovery, as the protagonist slowly finds out more and more about the odd nature of the house and its inhabitants, as well as the relations between the other people living in his new town. Because I don't want to spoil this process of discovery, I won't say much more about the plot of the novel, aside from the fact that it will slowly suck you into its own twisted reality, and that it's perfectly suited to be read and re-read, because everything, from the very first page on, will have acquired a new meaning by the time you're done reading The Sorceror's House for the first time.

Fans of Gene Wolfe know that this author likes to play games with unreliable narrators, such as the protagonist of the SOLDIER books, whose memory is wiped out at the end of every day, or Severian from The Book of the New Sun, who claims to have a perfect memory. In the case of The Sorceror's House, the novel actually consists of a series of letters. The vast majority are written by the erudite and intriguing main character, and addressed to his twin brother, his former cell mate, or his brother's wife. It's the epistolary format of The Sorceror's House that sets up lots of opportunities to twist the reader's perspective, because it allows the writer of the letters to tailor the content (not to mention tone) to the addressees.
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