Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on May 7, 2004
Gene Wolfe, here in Sword & Citadel, has managed to address some of the vagueries I found perplexing in the tetralogy's predecessor. The volumes seems more focused and driven, while, at the same time, not losing the meticulous prose that is his hallmark.
Indeed, Severian's tale has him travelling from north of Thrax, through the corridors of time, and, ultimately, back to the Citadel of the Autarch. I don't think it unfair to state that Severian, in this tale, doesn't achieve consummate happiness. As with the first book, he seems to radiate health for the unwell and (as with Angela Lansbury in 'Murder She Wrote') unhappiness for those near (up to and including) himself.
At the least, some of the mysteries of the tetralogy are resolved late in the book (4). Given Mr. Wolfe's style, it is not surprising that the book is 'thick' despite being a mere 400 pages. Nonetheless, I found it disappointing that the ending seemed rushed: an "I need 20 more pages" theme seemed to carry it. Hence, in this reviewers eyes, it ended with a whimper and not a bang.
The bottom line: I would recommend 'The Book of the New Sun' (both books, comprised of four volumes). I don't know that I would equate it to the literary masterpieces on its jacket as Wolfe, through his protagonist, does not use the vocabulary of the common man. This will, I fear, cause this tale to fade in its being read. And that would be a great loss.
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