This is an extremely challenging read. It rivals "Moby Dick" in linguistic complexity. Frankly, my Kindle worked overtime using fast Wikipedia and Dictionary look-ups features for the vocabulary used. Often, multiple times on a single page! The challenge is two fold: 1) the archaic terms used: 40% are in the dictionary, 40% are in Wikipedia, and 20% are in neither (the author simply creates). I really do not know how the book could have been accurately read at the time it was written because the Internet (and its associated speed) did not yet exist & 2) many sentences are constructed in an archaic way as well. I am telling you, the vocabulary used would have driven William F. Buckley Jr. (well known for his expansive vocabulary, FYI) running to the dictionary routinely.
I read a lot and have a Master's...this is a challenging read up with the most complex I have every read or heard about. I am 59 and have a gracious amount of books under my proverbial "belt".
It is written in the first person in the very distant future as a memoir of sorts. The original writer from the future has a sort of photographic memory which is used to add credibility to the detail of the story. The actual author (I.e., Wolfe) has an appendix stating that it was translate into our current English (Circa 1983). So, the actual author is merely a translator. He states that there are numerous word substitutions for various reasons as it is set in the future.
The terminology used spans from the Classic Greek era of time (~500 BC or so) of time to ~1983. It spans European and Arab cultural references and terminology references.
The work is impressive and very much worth the read. It is in the top handful of Scyfy reads every written IMHO. I caution anyone who attempts to read this to use a reader. The fast look-up capability is essential to appreciating the work. Reading a hard copy would be an effort in frustration unless you have a Masters or PhD in literature along with advanced degrees in ancient history.
I love this book. I suppose I love for the piece as a work of literature, but I think I love even more because it made me work so hard to read the work in a way needed to appreciate it.
Postscript: I have read several other reviews that give a poor rating. This novel is set on Earth with the sun dying. Far into the future. Society has de-evolved into many roles and practices more common a Medeival/Roman/Greek blend. High tech and interstelller space travel are ancient memories. It is male dominated but with several strong females. I feel many of the poor reviews were by readers who gave up and did not finish this challenging read. The Appendix mentioned above covers terminology used; the accuracy of the story is covered multiple times discussing the author's photographic memory.
Bottom line: the reader has to work while reading this book. It is not a "sit on the beach and read a page an hour" type book. You are working with the author with every sentence. Most people are not use to or prepared for this level of effort. When you finish this book you are rewarded handsomely with a sense of true accomplishment. This book is the equivalent to a large portion (40% or so) of a single college class in literature. 1.5 credits or so. IMHO.