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The Urth of the New Sun: The sequel to 'The Book of the New Sun' Paperback – November 15, 1997

4.2 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
Book 5 of 4 in the New Sun Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Severian, formerly a member of the Torturers' Guild and now Autarch of Urth, travels beyond the boundaries of time and space aboard the Ship of Tzadkiel on a mission to bring the New Sun to his dying planet. Wolfe demonstrates his mastery of both style and content in this complex, multilayered story of one man's eternal quest. Containing enough background material to make it accessible to series newcomers, this sequel to the four-volume Book of the New Sun is highly recommended. JC
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

The Urth of the New Sun is a fine coda to what is arguable the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced, the four-volume Book of the New Sun.” ―Chicago Sun-Times

“Gene Wolfe's new book soars, falls free, runs like the river that runs through it from universe to universe, between life and death and life again. The groundnote of it all is human pain, so that this fantasy has the weight of vision.” ―Ursula K. Le Guin

“Gene Wolfe's four-volume magnum opus, The Book of the New Sun, is one of the modern masterpieces of imaginative literature--an evocation of a world so far in the future that magic and technology, poetry and science, are indistinguishable,a world heavy with time but yet bereft of hope, a world brought to life by Mr. Wolfe's unique blend of slightly archaic diction and ever-surprising vocabulary. Readers familiar with these volumes will find much to enjoy in The Urth of the new Sun.” ―The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Series: New Sun (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; 1st edition (November 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312863942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312863944
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The underlying allegory in the Book of the New Sun is the story of the redemption of one man- Severian- and all men and women on Urth, as represented by him. It is an intentional irony of the story that when Severian embarks on this final odyssey he is already more than one person himself, from his experiences previously; and indeed those inside him form part of the process of saving his (and thus the Urth's) soul.

Those who read this story as a straightforward space opera will probably be puzzled and confused. However, as a spiritual pilgrimage and tale of the human condition, pain, and forgiveness, it is without parallel as far as I know in the science fiction genre (and with few parallels in any other genre).

The clever connections with Hebrew and Christian mythology continue to run beneath the surface of the story, and if it wasn't already clear from Severian's monologue in the earlier books about God being a torturer, too, it becomes evident in this book that Severian is a literary Christ figure- though one of the most bizarre and fragmented I have come across, and certainly one of the greater and so more human ones.

The delight in following this myth is only increased by Wolfe's admirable, unshakeable dedication to real science. The evolution of the even more fantastic part of the New Sun Universe shown to us in this additional novel continues to be hinted at and explained in terms of the real world, though shrouded in myth and awe.

Those who fail to understand the strength of the ending would be well advised to go back to the earlier novels and re-read the script of the play Severian performs in the Autarch's gardens. In fact, the entire series improves with re-readings, as it has obviously been cross-written throughout- no mean feat when the last book is written so long after the first four are theoretically complete.
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The Urth of the New Sun is a coda to the Book of the New Sun, so going into it one has to expect a few things:

1) A story that builds heavily on what has gone before- this book is not for newcomers to this world! Read New Sun first.

2) Uncomplicated plots- this book is about half a story. Don't set your expectations too high.

However, if you can look at Urth of the New Sun getting past these first two hurdles, this book is the key that unlocks the secrets of the Book of the New Sun. Insight is provided on many questions left unanswered in the original tetralogy, and especially we learn a lot about Severian's character.

This isn't quite the Severian of New Sun, but it's still someone who has grown from there; still questionably insane, still the product of his society. Some more information is provided on the world.

All in all, the book is enjoyable, especially if you feel like you missed some major element of the Book of the New Sun. Urth of the New Sun isn't an incredible read, but it definitely filled me with some flashes of insight that made it well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
I finished Gene Wolfe's "The Urth of the New Sun" about a day and a half ago; after sorting out my impressions to write this review, I would say that it seemed like "Urth" should have been all the 4-volume "Book of the New Sun" was...but it wasn't. But then, it's hard to top a masterpiece, which "The Book of the New Sun" certainly is.
My history as a Gene Wolfe reader is torturous. I read the first two volumes and felt like I was watching paint dry. Four years later, out of curiosity, I bought volumes three and four and found that my opinion of Wolfe had changed completely. His writing in "The Book of the New Sun" is strange, heartbreaking, mind-bending, and above all emotionally involving and obscurely moving to an extent perhaps no other author evokes in me. While I would never claim to have completely understood any event in any of its four volumes, I know they were awesome--truly deserving every word of praise they've been given.
Obviously, I had high expectations for "The Urth of the New Sun," and I was disappointed to find that they weren't all fulfilled. Severian has turned infuriating in this book, both in his pontifications and his occasional thick-headedness (I know something's wrong when I can figure out what's going on and he can't), and Wolfe's writing is no longer so emotional. Moreover, though I was gratified that "Urth" tied up many of its predecessors' loose ends, I felt that it perhaps explained too much at the large scale, while leaving many minor points infuriatingly inexplicable. (Can someone explain Gunnie/Burgundofara's history to me?
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A most perplexing and difficult novel to review:
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.
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