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Litany of the Long Sun: Nightside the Long Sun and Lake of the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 1 and 2) Paperback – April 1, 2000
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun tetralogy ranks as one of the greatest literary achievements of 20th-century science fiction. Litany of the Long Sun, comprising the first two books in the series, is suffused with looming transcendence and theophany. Wolfe takes familiar speculative fiction tropes and embeds them in a tale so complex and wonderful that readers may find themselves wondering whether what they're reading is science fiction, fantasy, or something different altogether. Or whether it matters.
The story of Patera Silk, a devout priest whose destiny is wrapped up with the gods he serves, takes place within the Whorl, a vast, cylindrical starship that has traveled for generations and is crumbling into disrepair. Through a strange and amazing series of events, Silk finds himself descending to base thievery, running afoul of a notorious crime lord, befriending a cyborg soldier, and encountering at least one of the gods of Mainframe.
She shook her head almost imperceptibly. "All that abstinence! And now you've seen a goddess. Me. Was it worth it?"
"Yes, Loving Kypris."
She laughed again, delighted. "Why?"
The question hung in the silence of the baking sellaria while Silk tried to kick his intellect awake. At last he said haltingly, "We are so much like beasts, Kypris. We eat and we breed; then we spawn and die. The most humble share in a higher existence is worth any sacrifice."
But when Silk encounters the Outsider, who may be a God of a very different sort, all his beliefs are shaken to the core, and his life swiftly takes a messianic turn. In a rousing climax, Silk becomes the reluctant leader of a political rebellion against the corrupt Ayuntamiento, who rule the city-state of Viron.
It is not necessary to have read Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series, which takes place many centuries earlier, to enjoy the Long Sun novels, but keen-eyed readers will find many clues as to the origin of the Whorl and its gods in those stories. Further, although Wolfe's reputation for literary precision and trickery is well deserved, the Long Sun series (which continues in Epiphany of the Long Sun) is one of the more accessible places to start appreciating the author's treasures. --Therese Littleton
“Today quite possibly the most important writer in the SF field.” ―The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
“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.” ―Chicago Sun-Times
“Wolfe is quite simply a superb writer.” ―The Washington Post Book World
“Gene Wolfe is a national treasure.” ―Damon Knight
“Wolfe is our Melville.” ―Ursula K. Le Guin
Top customer reviews
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The mysteries in the Book of the Long Sun are clear (though abstract at times, rewards the reader with repeated reading). THE LONG SUN gradually introduces a plot that will later shakeup the city of its setting and by the end of the four-volume work totally change the Whorl in which the characters live. The transformation of Silk from naive dogmatic priest to a secular authority of sophisitication is interesting and enlightening. These stories are a part of me and will stay with you too long after you've read them. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
The Book of the Long Sun is another Wolfe tetralogy that demonstrates that a decade after his New Sun books, Wolfe is still in top form. Litany of the Long Sun comprises the first two books of the four: Nightside the Long Sun and Lake of the Long Sun. The volume opens with a young man named Silk getting a divine vision. Silk is a patera - a rough equivalent of a priest - in some sort of far future space colony referred to as the Whorl. This world is clearly artificial and is illuminated by a long glowing light that is the Long Sun of the title.
Although seeming set in the future, in many ways things have regressed technologically, and the Whorl is now filled with city-states that are often at odds with each other. The people worship a series of gods that are vaguely reminiscent of the Greek or Roman gods. In particular, there are nine deities that require worship and a number of minor gods. One such god, the Outsider, is responsible for Silk's vision.
This vision will lead Silk on a series of adventures as he tries to save his manteion (roughly, a church) from purchase by a shady yet wealthy man named Blood. These adventures will teach him much about the nature of his world and the gods that inhabit it.
There is a lot that goes on in this first volume, and the plotting is intricate enough that I have only scratched the surface. Since really each book is merely a segment in the entire story, it is hard to review them (or even Litany) individually; in a way, it is like reviewing individual chapters in a novel. But everything that I've read in this story thus far (that is, the whole Litany), shows that this is another good work by Wolfe, on a caliber with his New Sun works. This, so far, seems to be really good science fiction (with a few dashes of fantasy).
Book begins great and it really provokes some thinking. It is set up in some kinda sci-fi/medieval ambient and I loved first one.
Second book/second half slows down and it happens in tunnels. I hate how underground became generic setting for this genre...
Naturally, after this I took second half of series in my hands.
Most recent customer reviews
5 stars because it is indeed a book with words.