The Urth of the New Sun Mass Market Paperback – September 15, 1988
|New from||Used from|
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Customers who bought this item also bought
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Idiosyncratic style and incidental structure that is extravagant with poetic imagery, elegant descriptions and profound observations - while frustratingly coy with its narrative revelations. And since this is the finale of The Book of the New Sun, anticipation remains throughout for many left-over riddles to be resolved. However, though some knots are untangled, the remarkably imaginative skein continues to snarl - too paradoxical and excessive for its own good.
(Warning: Do not expect satisfaction if you have not already read the Book of the New Sun, you will be lost!)
Unpretentiously mythic and philosophical in the best classic traditions of both science fiction and fantasy, this sequel/prequel to Severian's memoir is part Passion Play, part Through The Looking Glass, part Odyssey: a Brothers Grimm alchemy. Wolfe is an illusionist, even more cunning than usual with the Autarch Severian's continued pilgrimage, this time(s) progressing into the over-universe, then back to Urth, then to Ushas, then off again to... Well, it is all simultaneously quite magnificent, confounding, and, ultimately, irritating.
In outline: the first 26 of its 51 chapters involve the voyage to be tested for Urth's redemption. The most rewarding chapters 27 to 43 - a fascinating and often surprising recapitulation at old Urth. Apres those chapters, of course: le deluge...
As always, the chimeric use of an antiquated vocabulary is unparalleled in its mysterious and evocative richness. But Wolfe also remains the thaumaturge more than the hoped for dramatist: as each series of incidents and episodes morphs into another, characters appear then reappear, then change into someone or even something else. Wolfe glories in precise imprecision; his story telling technique, at the most crucial times, depends upon just enough ambiguity to allow meaning to flow free. This is its great accomplishment, though also its most annoying fault. Often Urth of the New Sun reads like some sort of Masque of the White Fountain, complete with guests like a fairy godmother, Friar Tuck, John the Baptist, the Three Wise Men, Tinkerbell - and, of course, good old Apu-Punchau as a sort of Prince Prospero. His style depends on avoiding narrative cliches or conventions, so often risks irritating even the most patient audience with its persistent vagaries and layer upon layer of possibility. So, what exactly was Severian's test? And how did he pass it? How and why was the sun diminished? A punishment for what original sin? And ultimately what is Severian's apotheosis?
The truest science fictional bona fide of this admirably allegorical achievement is Wolfe's masterful fusion of a qabalistic and modern cosmology. Considering the current state of physics' debate between cosmological models (particularly Cyclic, open or regenerative), all the symbolic ingenuity of metaphysically drawing a divine spark from Yesod to Briah - the soul of the story - alone makes the Urth of the New Sun a unique addition to the Stapledon tradition. Unfortunately, the story's emotional outcome becomes submerged by its mythopoeic complexity.
And even if Severian's oddly opaque conscience - the alien heart of all his chronicling - still remains strangely difficult to fathom... Well, again, I consider this is a book full of wonderful and irritating conundrums. Difficult to love, impossible not to admire, but above all frequently graced with wonderfully poignant, beautiful images and insights that linger in the memory.
So it is with Urth of the New Sun, which Wolfe wrote reluctantly as part of a deal with his publisher. Few readers of the tetralogy which preceded it---The Book of the New Sun---could claim to have understood the story and Severian's role within it absent reading The Urth of the New Sun.
In addition to serving as a direct sequel to The Citadel of the Autarch, the time-hopping UotNS serves to expose and resolve many plot threads from the earlier novels while presenting a satisfying conclusion to the whole, while introducing a number of fascinating new characters to the mix. It's well worth your time.
* Update: The more I think about it the more convinced I am that this book is pirated. Beware this seller.
Top international reviews
Few works compare to The Book of the New Sun and fewer endings compare to The Urth of the New Sun. Your journey with Severian is not complete without it.
This "sequel" gives a conclusion to the tale, and in doing so revisited some of the moments from the first four books that had been so obtuse that I had rather overlooked their weirdness at the time as being asides that did not impact on the tale. The result is both rewarding because it brings new insight to the tale, but at the same time I found it to be a bit frustrating.
My frustration comes from the fact that the first four part tale demanded that the reader speculate to fill in some of the gaps of the tale. This book then fills in some of the gaps that I hadn't realised were there, but in such a way that I now need to go back and reappraise my speculations. I found this to be deliberately complicating an already complicated tale, and I didn't appreciate the confusion I now have about what this series was actually about.
I certainly wouldn't recommend this book if you haven't read the first four in the series. And if you are happy with the story you have pieced together already from the first four books then you may not wish to unsettle that by reading this sequel. It's weird, but not really in a good way.