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In Green's Jungles (Book of the Short Sun, Book 2) Paperback – May 4, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
Book 6 of 12 in the Solar Cycle Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gene Wolfe has stymied and delighted smart science fiction readers for years. His complex, multilayered narratives, untrustworthy narrators, and puzzle-box characters send those of us who like that sort of thing into paroxysms of thrilling speculation, re-reading, and just plain guessing what it all means. In Green's Jungles is the middle book of Wolfe's opus trilogy, The Book of the Short Sun (the first is On Blue's Waters). It is by no means necessary to start with his other series, The Book of the New Sun and The Book of the Long Sun, in order to enjoy what is most likely the final examination of the universe Wolfe has created. But critics and fans are mostly in agreement that they are best read in order, and that the Short Sun series is the best of an astonishing bunch.

In Green's Jungles follows narrator Horn as he voyages to the planet Green (Blue's companion) and to the abandoned generational starship known as the Whorl in search of the godlike Patera Silk. As Horn recounts his adventures, his own identity becomes muddled, and we find out his interactions with the vampiric inhumi of Green and the strange alien Neighbors were deeper than we knew. In fact, Horn may not be himself at all anymore. Tantalizing story details drip slowly from Wolfe's pen:

Through the ring a Neighbor saw him, and she came to him in his agony.... she said, "I cannot make you well again, and if I could you would still be in this place. I can do this for you, however, if you desire it. I can send your spirit into someone else, into someone whose own spirit is dying."

So who is Horn? Has he become Patera Silk--it seems so, for people begin mistaking him for the heroic leader. Is he the warrior king Rajan, or is he something entirely new, formed by the strange places and people around him into a savior of worlds? Identity, love, and faith weave through the themes of In Green's Jungles, and Wolfe has added another masterpiece to a shelf full of them. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In 1980, Wolfe published The Shadow of the Torturer, the first volume in his now classic Book of the New Sun, which was eventually followed by his much-praised Book of the Long Sun sequence. Whereas the former series was set on the decadent planet Urth, the latter took place within the Whorl, a hollowed-out asteroid whose inhabitants knew nothing of the universe outside their failing world. At the end of the second series, the charismatic Cald Silk led his people to the planets called Green and Blue and then disappeared. For years it had been rumored that the two novel sequences were somehow connectedDand here the rumor is substantiated. In this second volume in The Book of the Short Sun (after On Blue's Waters), Horn, the narrator of the Long Sun books, is on a quest for the lost Silk. Although he engages in numerous adventuresDleading an army, slogging through a monster-inhabited jungle, touring several exotic societiesDthe specifics of the plot are almost inconsequential. What counts is Wolfe's gorgeous prose, the brilliant dialogue and the dazzling way that reality shifts from one paragraph to the next. Horn soon discovers that he has the seemingly magical power to travel instantaneously between Green and Blue, though his body and those of his compatriots undergo strange changes with each shift. Eventually, they visit a world with a dying red sun that may be long-lost Urth. Oddly, Horn also discovers that he has begun to physically resemble Silk. Like any middle volume in a series, this novel leaves mysteries unsolved and plot threads hanging, but that really doesn't matter. It's the sheer strangeness of this masterful tale that counts, and the glorious sense of unknown wonders to come.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Book of the Short Sun (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (May 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312873638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312873639
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Short Sun series is shaping up to be the best thing Wolfe has written since THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN. This second volume continues the narration of the quest to recover Silk.
Lupine surprises and unanswered(?) questions abound, and to discuss the events relayed in this middle volume would be to spoil the joy of discovery for other readers--besides, until the final volume is published and we've reread the whole thing a few times, we probably won't fully know the story. Wolfe's work, like life and unlike so much fiction, grows richer with each return; like old friends, his novels reward attention and familliarity breeds delight rather than contempt (born out of boredom).
The manner in which the story is presented is, as in ON BLUE'S WATERS, complex even for Wolfe--multiple time frames and threads of narrative are blended expertly. The way Wolfe works his magic through the guise of a "rambling" and "unskilled" narrator is truly beautiful. One of the best things about this book is its extended use of a device employed with great skill in THE CITADEL OF THE AUTARCH: Wolfe transforms what might be an artifical narrative technique into a moving commmentary on that most fundamental of human activities, the telling of a story.
For, in the end, it isn't the brilliant prose or the narrative genius that makes this a great work. Rather, it is the moving, wise, and loving exploration of what it means to live and love, to feel the immense pain of consciousness and to do good and evil that justifies the elaborate machinery--to tell a lie beautifully is unfortunate, but to tell the truth with skill and beauty is to achieve greatness.
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Format: Hardcover
Gene Wolfe has occasionally been accused of misogyny in his writing, or of stereotyping his female characters to the point where they rarely achieve more than two dimensions. I'm happy to report that in this new book (dedicated to his daughters, as its prequel, ON BLUE'S WATERS, was dedicated to his sons) he proves that he is indeed capable of creating female characters--not just one but three of them--with rich inner lives and distinct, appealing (not altogether appealing--this is Wolfe, after all) personalities. All three are young, apparently between 13 and 19, and all three become in some sense Horn's daughters. This is the same--well, not quite the same--Horn who raped Seawrack, to whom he also stood in loco parentis, in the last book; he is still atoning for that act. As well he might, says this reader--but his compassionate and heroic actions in this book have led me to forgive him and then some.
Horn is the first of Wolfe's series heroes ever to change and mature within the series; this makes him the most interesting and human of them. I disagree with the reviewer here who found IN GREEN'S JUNGLES to be a "link" book. To me it seems much richer, both in imagery and emotion, than the first one, and it opens up the series to such a degree that I find myself regretting, well in advance, that there will be only one more book to explore these worlds. Wolfe changed his mind once before, adding a fifth book to the original New Sun quartet. Maybe he will do it again!
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Format: Hardcover
This latest novel is the middle book in a trilogy called The Book of the Short Sun. The Book of the Short Sun is (we are told) narrated by Horn, who was born on the generation ship called the Long Sun Whorl, and who was a teenaged boy during the events of Wolfe's earlier tetralogy, The Book of the Long Sun. At the time of this new series, he has lived on the planet Blue for something over 20 years. He has a wife and three sons, and he is a papermaker. Blue is one of two twin planets, the other called Green, to which the generation ship brought many colonists from Earth. The first of the trilogy, On Blue's Waters, told the story of his quest for the city of Pajarocu, which had a still-functional lander (a "shuttle" capable of interplanetary flight), in which he hoped to return to the Long Sun Whorl and find his beloved teacher, Patera Silk, the hero of The Book of the Long Sun, who he hopes will restore order to the decaying society of his colony city, New Viron. At the end of that book, Horn and his estranged son Sinew were on the lander, ready to take off.
As the title of the new book hints, the lander did not make it to the Long Sun Whorl, but rather was diverted to Green. Green is the home of the blood-drinking, shape-changing, inhumi, creatures who seem to take on the characteristics of their prey. (Some inhumi have infested Blue, including a young male who Horn "adopts" in the first book, but they are more numerous on Green, and they seem to keep human slaves.) Both books are narrated after Horn returned to Blue from Green, however. And the Horn who returned seems oddly different. He has all Horn's memories, but some others as well, and he has changed physically.
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By A Customer on September 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Horn feels obsessed with the need to find Silk, the missing hero of his people. Silk led his followers to the planets Blue and Green, but vanished not long afterward. Now Horn believes it is his lot in life to search the vast universe in order to locate the lost legend and savior of his people.
As Horn battles with monsters and visits strange societies on weird planets including that, which might be Urth of the dying red sun, he discovers an interesting power that he possesses. In a nanosecond or less, Horn can travel between his home planet of Blue and another world Green that Silk safely led his people to settle on. As Horn moves back and forth between the two planets, his body changes with each transport until his own family fails to identify him as Horn because he now looks more like Silk.
Anyone who has followed science fiction over the past two decades will probably agree that Gene Wolfe belongs on the short list of the top three genre writers. His second novel in "The Book of the Short Sun" is a brilliant tale that although a transition book pays homage to the diversity of the universe. Using eloquent and intelligent prose, Mr. Wolfe states nothing is new under the solar umbrella. Anyone who has not read Mr. Wolfe before will want to read the first book ON BLUE'S WATERS while impatiently waiting for the next novel RETURN TO THE WHORL. Newcomers and some of us old-timers will also return to the related "Book of the New Sun" and "Book of the Long Sun" series that prove Mr. Wolfe deserved his Life Achievement and other awards.

Harriet Klausner
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