The continuation of the classic story of an unremarkable young man who finds himself rising to the leadership of his nation. Sword & Citadel by Gene Wolfe is the omnibus collection of the last two volumes of The Book of the New Sun tetralogy, The Sword of the Lictor and The Citadel of the Autarch, following the travels of exiled torturer Severian.
The Sword of the Lictor finds Severian arrived in Thrax performing his duties until he doesn’t kill someone for the city’s Archon and runs for the hills. He ultimately meets up and battles Dr. Talos and Baldanders in which his sword is destroyed. The Citadel of the Autarch finds Severian continuing his wanderings towards the war in the North when he stumbles upon it. Through his war experience he meets up with the Autarch and becomes his successor after eating him.
The opening volume of the book, Sword, is the nadir of the entire series as I came to dislike Severian as a character and Wolfe as a writer because of awful everything was. What made it worse was that the concluding volume of the book, Citadel, began well and gave a false promise about redeeming the entire series then Severian meet up with the Autarch and it quickly went into the abyss. Wolfe wrote five “in-world” stories, one in Sword and four in Citadel as part of a storytelling contest, which were all better than either one of these volumes.
I had high hopes for this classic series by Gene Wolfe, however Sword & Citadel concluded one of the most overrated series I’ve ever read.
The Sword of the Lictor (1.5/5) The Citadel of the Autarch (2/5)