[Reading] ➶ Shadow & Claw ➬ Gene Wolfe – Dcrjservices.co.uk

Shadow & Claw pdf Shadow & Claw, ebook Shadow & Claw, epub Shadow & Claw, doc Shadow & Claw, e-pub Shadow & Claw, Shadow & Claw 0239b406a0d The Shadow Of The Torturer Is The Tale Of Young Severian, An Apprentice In The Guild Of Torturers On The World Called Urth, Exiled For Committing The Ultimate Sin Of His Profession Showing Mercy Toward His Victim The Claw Of The Conciliator Continues The Saga Of Severian, Banished From His Home, As He Undertakes A Mythic Quest To Discover The Awesome Power Of An Ancient Relic, And Learn The Truth About His Hidden Destiny The Book Of The New Sun Is Unanimously Acclaimed As Gene Wolfe S Most Remarkable Work, Hailed As A Masterpiece Of Science Fantasy Comparable In Importance To The Major Works Of Tolkien And Lewis By Publishers Weekly, And One Of The Most Ambitious Works Of Speculative Fiction In The Twentieth Century By The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction Shadow Claw Brings Together The First Two Books Of The Tetralogy In One Volume.


10 thoughts on “Shadow & Claw

  1. says:

    Wolfe has an almost legendary status amongst fellow authors Gaiman called him a ferocious intellect , Swanwick said he s the greatest writer in the English language alive today , and Disch called this series a tetralogy of couth, intelligence, and suavity.You can rarely trust the popular market to single out good authors, but you d think it might be safe to listen to the opinions of other writers especially an assemblage of Nebula and Hugo winners in their own right I will give his fans one concession Wolfe is an author who defies expectations Unfortunately, I was expecting him to be remarkable and interesting.This book had been sitting on my shelf for months, along with other highly praised works I ve been looking forward to, but I bade my time, waiting for the mood to strike Few live up to their reputation, but most at least deliver part of the promise.I would expect any author mentioned in the same breath as Peake to have an original and vibrant style, but I found Wolfe s writing to be simple without being elegant His language and structure serves its purpose, only occasionally rising above mere utilitarianism, and then he rushes to florid flourishes that fall flat as often as they succeed Sometimes, it is downright dull The prose of the second book is stronger than the first, but its plot and characters are linear and predictable.I appreciated his created language than most fantasy authors, but I didn t find it particularly mysterious or difficult, because all of his words are based on recognizable Germanic or Romantic roots Then again, after three years of writing stories about Roman whores in Latin, I had little problem with meretriculous Even those words I wasn t familiar with seemed clear by their use.The terms are scattered throughout the book, but rarely contribute to a pervasive linguistic style, as might be seen in The Worm Ouroboros, The Lord of the Rings, Gormenghast, or The King of Elfland s Daughter Wolfe s terms pepper otherwise and unremarkable modern style, which hardly helps to throw us into a strange world.He is better than the average fantasy author, but he resembles them than he differs from them His protagonist started off interestingly enough an apparently weak and intelligent man, which made it all the disappointing when he suddenly transformed into a laconic, wench loving buttkicker who masters sword fighting, finds the Super Magic Thing and follows the path of his Awesome Foretold Fate Again, I must agree with Nick Lowe Wolfe s plot owes to magic and convenience than good storytelling.It relies on the same tricks over and over any time a character is about to give important information to us, there will be a sudden attack or other interruption, as convenient and annoying as the moment when the dying man says I was killed by aargh We also get problems solved by divine intervention whenever things start to slow, which doesn t leave the characters much room to be active.He also seems to suffer from the same sexual discomfort that plagues so many fantasy authors There is an undercurrent of obsession with women and their sexuality, complete with the sexualization of rape and murder It s not so much a case of misogyny as it is an inequality in how characters behave.The women always seem to end up as playtoys for the narrator, running around naked, desiring him, sparring with him coyly, but ultimately, conquered and the camera pans away They always approach him, desire him, pretending they don t want him, then give themselves up to him It s the same old story of an awkward, emotionless male protagonist who is inexplicably followed and harangued by women who fall in love with him for no given reason, familiar to anyone who s seen a harem anime.I will grant that the women have character than the average fantasy heroine, but it still doesn t leave them with much Instead of giving into love at first sight, they fight it as long as they can, making it that much sweeter when the narrator finally wins The sexuality was not new, interesting, arousing, or mutual, it was merely the old game of overcoming the strong woman that is familiar to readers of the Gor books The sense of love in The New Sun is even unsettling It descends on the characters suddenly and nonsensically, springing to life without build or motivation The word never comes up in connection with any psychological development, nor does it ever seem to match the relationships as they are depicted More often than not, it seems love is only mentioned so the narrator can coldly break his lover s trust in the next chapter.Several times, the narrator tries to excuse himself for objectifying women by mentioning that he also objectifies ugly women What this convolution of misogyny is supposed to represent, I couldn t say The narrator seems very interested in this fact, and is convinced that it makes him a unique person It made it very clear to me why the most interesting antiheroes tend to be gruff and laconic, because listening to a chauvinistic sociopath talk about himself is insufferable.Then there is the fact that every character you meet in the story turns up again, hundreds of miles away, to reveal that they are someone else and have been secretly controlling the action of the plot It feels like the entire world is populated by about fifteen people who follow the narrator around wherever he goes If the next two books continue along the same lines, then the big reveal will be that the world is entirely populated by no than three superpowered shapeshifters.Everyone in the book has secret identities, secret connections to grand conspiracies, and important plot elements that they conveniently hide until the last minute, only doling out clues here and there There are no normal people in this world, only double agents and kings in disguise Every analysis I ve read of this book mentions that even the narrator is unreliable.This can be an effective technique, but in combination with a world of infinite, unpredictable intrigue, Wolfe s story begins to evoke something between a soap opera and a convoluted mystery novel, relying on impossible and contradictory scenarios to mislead the audience Apparently, this is the thing his fans most appreciate about him I find it to be an insulting and artificial game.I agree with this reviewer that there is simply not enough structure to the story to make the narrator s unreliability meaningful In order for unreliable narration to be effective, there must be some clear and evident counter story that undermines it Without that, it is not possible to determine meaning, because there s nowhere to start everything is equally shaky.At that point, it s just a trick adding complexity to the surface of the story without actually producing any new meaning I know most sci fi and fantasy authors seem to love complexity for its own sake, but it s a cardinal sin of storytelling don t add something into your story unless it needs to be there Covering the story with a lot of vagaries and noise may impress some, but won t stand up to careful reading.Fantasy novels are often centered on masculinity, violence, and power struggles, and so by making the narrator an emotionally distant manipulator with sociopathic tendencies, Wolfe s story is certainly going to resemble other genre outings If Severian is meant to be a subversion of the grim antihero, I would expect a lot of clever contradiction which revealed him His unreliability would have to leave gaping holes that point to another, likely conclusion If the protagonist s mendacious chauvinism is not soundly contradicted, then there is really nothing separating him from what he is supposed to be mocking.Poe s Law states that it can be difficult to tell whether something is an act of mockery or an example of genuine extremism, and perhaps that s what s going on here Wolfe s mockery is so on the nose that it is indistinguishable from other cliche genre fantasy But even if that were true, then the only thing separating Wolfe from the average author is the fact that he s doing it on purpose, which is hardly much of a distinction If a guy punches himself in the nose and then insists I meant to do that , I don t think that makes him any less of a dumbass.Human psychology and politics are fraught enough without deliberately obfuscating them Unfortunately, Wolfe does not have the mastery of psychology to make a realistically complicated text, only a cliched text that is meta complicated.After finishing the book, I tried to figure out why it had garnered so much praise I stumbled across a number of articles, including this one by Gaiman and this one by an author who wrote a book of literary analysis about the New Sun series Both stressed that Wolfe was playing a deliberate meta fictional game with his readers, creating mysteries and clues in his book for them to follow, so that they must reread the text over and over to try to discern what is actually happening I won t claim this isn t a technical feat, but I would suggest that if Wolfe wanted us to read his book over and over, he might have written it with verve, style, character, and originality As the above critic says On a first, superficial reading, there is little to distinguish Wolfe s tetralogy from many other sf and fantasy novels The plot itself is apparently unremarkable Perhaps I m alone in this, but I have no interest in reading your average sword wielding badass gender challenged fantasy book over and over in the hopes that it will get better If Wolfe is capable of writing an original and interesting story, why cover it with a dull and occasionally insulting one I have enjoyed complex books before, books with hidden messages and allusions, but they were interesting both in their depths and on the surface I didn t find the New Sun books particularly complex or difficult His followers have said that he isn t concerned with being conspicuously witty , but I d suggest he s merely incapable of being vibrant or intriguing.There were interesting ideas and moments in the book, and I did appreciate what originality Wolfe did have, but I found it strange that such a different mind would produce such hidebound prose, tired descriptions, convenient plots, and unappealing characters It has usually been my experience that someone who is capable of thinking remarkable things is capable of writing remarkable things.Sure, there were some interesting Vancian moments, where you realize that some apparently magical effect is actual a piece of sci fi detritus this character is a robot, that tower is actually a rocket, a painting of a mythical figure clearly depicts an astronaut but this doesn t actually add anything to the story, they weren t important facts, they were just details thrown in.It didn t matter that any of those things were revealed to be something else than they appeared, because it didn t change anything about the story, or the characters, or the themes or ideas These weren t vital and strange ideas to be explored, like the mix of sci fi and fantasy in Vance, Le Guin, or Lovecraft, but inconsequential easter eggs for obsessing fans to dig up.As Clarke s Third Law says any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic Therefore, switching back and forth between magical explanations and super technological ones doesn t mean much, on its own They re indistinguishable Star Wars may use the trappings of sci fi, but it s just a fantasy story about wizards and knights in space In order to make the distinction meaningful, you ve got to put some kind of spin on it.Overall, I found nothing unique in Wolfe Perhaps it s because I ve read quite a bit of odd fantasy if all I read was mainstream stuff, then I d surely find Wolfe unpredictable, since he is a step above them But compared to Leiber, Howard, Lovecraft, Dunsany, Eddison, Kipling, Haggard, Peake, Mieville, or Moorcock, Wolfe is nothing special.Perhaps I just got my hopes up too high I imagined something that might evoke Peake or Leiber at his best , perhaps with a complexity and depth gesturing toward Milton or Ariosto I could hardly imagine a better book than that, but even a book half that good would be a delight or a book that was nothing like that, but was unpredictable and seductive in some other way.I kept waiting for something to happen, but it never really did It all plods along without much rise or fall, just the constant moving action to make us think something interesting is happening I did find some promise, some moments that I would have loved to see the author explore, particularly those odd moments where Silver Age Sci Fi crept in, but each time he touched upon these, he would return immediately to the smallness of his plot and his annoying prick of a narrator I never found the book to be difficult or complex, merely tiring the unusual parts were evasive and vague, and the dull parts constant and repetitive.The whole structure or lack of it does leave things up to interpretation, and perhaps that s what some readers find appealing that they can superimpose their own thoughts and values onto the narrator, and onto the plot itself But at that point, they don t like the book Wolfe wrote, they like the book they are writing between his lines.I ll lend the book out to some fantasy loving friends and they ll buy the next one, which I ll then have to borrow from them so I can see if there s ever a real payoff Then again, if Sevarian s adolescent sexuality is any evidence, the climax will be as underwhelming as the self assured, fumbling foreplay If I don t learn to stop giving my heart away, it s just going to get broken again.Ah well, once unto the breach.My Fantasy Book Suggestions


  2. says:

    Update 5 26 finally finished Man, this is an intense book I was tempted to give up on it at various points because it s so thoroughly dick lit I mean, the hero carries around a sword that he unsheathes, oils, and re sheaths routinely throughout his travels, and he sleeps with nearly every woman he encounters, but usually in the most patronizing way imaginable there s actually an extremely painful, cringeworthy attempt at some sort of epiphanic look into the male psyche, wherein it is brought to the reader s attention that men don t only want the hot chicks They don t discriminate They want the not so hot chicks, too Preferably simultaneously all of which would be fine, if the whole thing weren t trying desperately to be something much less transparent than that Parts of this were delightfully magical actually, most of it was, imagery wise It s definitely a pleasure to feel like you ve tapped into the mind of someone on a really good, permanent acid trip But I think I need to go build back up my estrogen reserves before continuing on to the second half I ll have whatever drugs this author is on Kthxbai.


  3. says:

    The Shadow of the Torturer Apprentice torturer Severian shows mercy for an imprisoned woman and helps her commit suicide rather than endure weeks of torture For his crimes, Severian is sentenced to travel too the village of Thrax and take up the post of carnifex Will Severian make it to Thrax alive The Shadow of the Torturer isn t your grandmother s fantasy The tale of Severian isn t the hopeful quest story that s been written and re written umpteen times in the past fifty years The setting reminds me of Jack Vance s Dying Earth but much developed and with the specter of space opera hanging in the background Gene Wolfe takes the bare bones of the standard quest story and clothes it with literary merit, from the unreliable narrator, Severian, to references to classic works The scene in the necropolis near the beginning is straight out of Great Expectations Or straight out of Great Expectations if Pip was an apprentice torturer and helped Magwitch in a fight rather than fetch him a fileWolfe s writing is baroque and reminds me of the New Weird authors like China Mieville The Book of the New Sun definitely isn t a beach read Be prepared to divine the meaning of words from the context.Apart from Severian, the cast isn t all that developed, but then, the unreliable narrator should probably be the center of attention Dr Talos and Baldanders steal the show with what little screen time they re given.That s about all I can say without giving too much away The world Wolfe has built is full of fresh ideas How many other books do you know that feature two men fighting with flowers with razor sharp leaves The Claw of the Conciliator Severian s journey to Thrax continues and his path brings him into contact with both friend and foe Will he ever make it to Thrax Claw of the Conciliator continues Severian s rise from apprentice torturer to eventual Autarch Wolfe s inventiveness grows as Severian encounters man apes, a giantess, witches, an androgyne who might be The Autarch, a giantess, and many other interesting characters, including Dr Talos and company More is revealed about the Claw of the Conciliator, though much mystery remains I get the feeling a lot of secrets are still lurking in the background.One aspect of The Book of the New Sun I really enjoy is how Gene Wolfe has a lot of sci fi elements lurking in the background, like aliens, wormholes and the true nature of Jonas, and the casual mention of what might in fact be laser guns Wolfe s a sly one view spoiler My favorite part, by far, is the bit with the alzabo and Severian injesting a piece of Thecla s flesh and experiencing her memories I suspect this will continue to reverberate through the next two books hide spoiler


  4. says:

    Fantastic ConjunctivitisWolfe is most often compared to Tolkien and Lewis However this is regurgitation of marketing hype There is little in terms of style or symbology to link Wolfe with either Aside from the genre of fantasy and a clear talent for creative world building, Wolfe dwells in a very different universe, a universe not all that dissimilar from Mervyn Peake s Gormenghast trilogy The physical environment of Wolfe s city of Nessus could easily fit into Peake s Gormenghast Castle and vice versa A vast, half ruined, place, unknown except locally to its inhabitants A gothic labyrinth that harbours all manner of surprises and threats.Both sets of works play off a background of ancient but incomprehensible tradition that establishes the rigid conditions from which the protagonist must escape Unlike Severian, Titus knows his forebears, but this difference makes no difference to the comprehensive social discipline and constraint applied to both of them.Both Titus in Peake and Severian in Wolfe are sympathetic characters who struggle against the bonds of convention to capture some sort of independent identity Both have only a vague notion of what lies outside the boundaries of the city castle but they yearn toward it with a clearly erotic drive.Many of the other characters also are inter changeable The Chief Archivist and his assistant in Wolfe could be copies of Peake s Barquentine and the villainous Steerpike Bellgrove in Peake could be one of Wolfe s Masters Peake wrote Gormenghast between 1946 and 1959 It inspired several other works, most notably China Mieville s 2000 steampunk fantasy Perdido Street Station Wolfe s three or four books were written between 1980 and 1983 I have been unable to find any mention of Peake who died in 1968 by Wolfe or in critical analyses of his work In a 2014 interview with Wolfe specifically about writers who had influenced him, he makes no mention of Peake So an interesting case of parallel inspiration or a demonstration of the anxiety of influence Any views are welcome.


  5. says:

    Gene Wolfe is not a misgynist Before all the sensitive types start in on Gene Wolfe s treatment of women in Shadow and Claw, I thought I would head off such criticisms by exploring women s freedom in Wolfe s Urth.On Urth, women are 1 Permitted to learn to read There are actually a number of women in the narrative that not only can read but also can read and understand something akin to Latin But, don t you dare call it Latin, because it s not Gene Wolfe said so.2 Free to wear clothes or not as they see fit Much care is taken that women should be offered to wear clothes and even clean clothes when their pathetic nature raises our empathy and pity Yet, a woman is also apparently free to disrobe and thrown herself naked and pleading to exchange sex for the life of a loved one.3 Free to sell her body for money legally Money Good Sex Very good Sex for money Men have money a woman, her sex How can that be wrong 4 Free to be beaten That a woman should be suffered to live for giving offense to a man is a blessing onto her She may be beaten and pushed down and she is not hurt much.5 Free to be imprisoned unjustly In this enlightened age of the far future Urth, women are suffered to live despite they give offense to men and the law of Men The expense and time to imprison and persecuteerrprosecute a woman in light of her actual value to society is a charity granted to her and her sex.6 Free to be tortured That the Order of the Seekers for Truth and Penitence should seek to imprison and torture women clearly indicates that women are thought to be capable of speaking truth or even knowing truth Similarly, this would also suppose that a woman has a soul capable of penitence or that a woman possesses a soul at all.7 Free to be publicly maimed and executed The branding and public execution of a woman suggests the physical vessel of the woman s body contains a space for moral instruction through ritualized excruciation and killing A woman is no mere animal that can be killed or beaten without conscience Her body and her life are valued enough to bring forth a physical and moral revulsion to a public branding and execution that is not only a moment of moral teaching but also Thanatonic catharsis.8 Free to be raped in prison Make no mistake In past ages a woman in captivity was the rape toy of every guard and low level official in the prison system Under the care of the Order, a woman may only be raped as a form of torture by the head inquisitor or his designee She may be bartered amongst the inquisitor and his inferiors, but she shall not be abused by any other men.These are only some of the many freedoms that women enjoy in the world of Urth so lovingly and intellectually crafted by Gene Wolfe I for one salute his feminist spirit and his magnanimity to grant women a dignified and full existence in the world of his own creation And in case my sarcasm isn t clear, F you, Gene Wolfe


  6. says:

    My three favorite novels in the world are Dune by Frank Herbert, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, and The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe I bet that many of you have read, and many have heard of, the first two, but I wonder how many have read the last The Book of the New Sun is less accessible than The Name of the Rose and weirder than Dune The mind bending future world, where the sun is so close to dead that you can see the stars in the daytime, is on par with Dune in its richness and complexity The mostly religious philosophy, which the characters often discuss in casual conversation without it seeming contrived, is on par with The Name of the Rose or better But the characterization is better than either Although the main character is male, the female characters are far real, vivid, and varied than almost anything I ve encountered in fiction, and particularly science fiction.The book is full of hints and allusions and puzzles Despite what some readers may say, all the pieces are there and it s quite possible to put them together, though it might take a second read through and some thought I think many readers come away frustrated because they read the first volume alone and find that they have questions than answers There s also Gene Wolfe s love of obscure vocabulary he doesn t make up words, he just resurrects them I liked learning that an epopt is the opposite of a neophyte and that a carnifex is another word for executioner You can get by with context, but if you re a word nerd the OED will beckon you Every now and again the narrative pauses while the characters read a story from a book of tales or have a story telling contest The narrator main character tries to fool you into thinking that it s just an interlude included for his sense of completeness, but like many of things he says, it s just a subtle lie or perhaps self deception.It s one of those books that I wish fervently my friends would all read, because it s such a pleasure to discuss I m not sure I ve done a good job of convincing anyone, but if you re a fan of difficult pleasures, this is a book for you.


  7. says:

    update 12 2 2015 On this, my first re reading, I m stopping with Shadow of the Torturer in a for now kind of moment There are some other things I d like to read as 2015 winds down Not sure if I enjoyed the story or about the same this time around Certainly not less original review My first pass through Gene Wolfe s Shadow of the Torturer Claw of the Conciliator was summed up with a status update I made about two thirds of the way through Flashes of brilliance between swaths of tedium.I did not dislike the book, and I expect to re read it and enjoy it even some day but it did not strike me thus Not on this first reading.Aerin said it well Reading these books is like trying to watch a foreign movie without subtitles from two miles away with a crappy set of binoculars, and the audio coming over a fuzzy radio frequency, mixed with three other simultaneous broadcasts most of the time you re just watching incomprehensible things happening, thinking if you could only see things a little clearly and understand what the hell people were saying, this might be a really interesting story.And and Aerin hints at this, as well there is this tendency to wink and nudge your way through a book like this There s some High Vocabulary, and there is an Intricate Plot, and recognizably Epic Characters And you know for a fact that Gene Wolfe is no dummy he is a talented storyteller and a gifted author And who wants to be left behind Wolfe is gifted and talented and this is a great and convoluted and complex but epic story and so it must be brilliant Who wants to admit that they re left behind that they didn t get it that they were frustrated by it, even as they enjoyed it Or at least wanted to enjoy it And that s where I landed with this one I wanted to enjoy it, and I believe that there is an enjoyable novel in there but unless you re going to give it the extra effort on the first pass or unless you re a preternaturally brilliant ascetic , expect to be a little frustrated on that first pass.


  8. says:

    I stopped after


  9. says:

    MUST read at first available opportunity, b c Servo is an ode to one of Pierce Brown s favorite characters in literature,


  10. says:

    The book s cover offers a blurb from Neil Gaiman The best SF novel of the last century Yeah, okay Neil, I thought to myself I bet you say that to all the pretty books.Then I read the book And he was right At least, right if you define best as none better rather than better than all Book of the New Sun belongs in a class of its own If there s anything to compare it with, I haven t read it.With this quartet, Gene Wolfe did for speculative literature what Raymond Chandler did to detective fiction back in the 50s He raised it above its humble genre trappings Chandler opened my eyes to a new type of writing Prior to cracking open the pages of The Long Goodbye, I perceived literature as a dichotomy entertaining genre trash and high falutin Literary tomes The former focuses on the what while the latter focuses on the how but both possess merit Chandler s fiction blurs that line His plots are as entertaining as they come, yet much of a reader s delight arises from the sharp style and tremendous wit with which he wrote.So it is with The Book of the New Sun, though Wolfe s style could not be different than Chandler s While Chandler s Marlowe narrates with sharp, forceful prose, Wolfe s Severian an apprentice torturer narrates this old earth science fantasy blend with meandering complexity and guile, unreliable even in his claim that he s a liar Does he lie Yes but not in the manner you might think He lies not by shape, but by weight, giving you the facts plainly enough but hiding their import.Such subversion exists throughout the quartet It is entirely readable as a straight forward hero s journey of the Campbellian variety It s an adventure in the same way Chandler s novels are mysteries They entertain at the surface level But they are also so much than that In Chandler s case, his novels are a how to manual for dealing with a world that is, our world so reliant on manipulation that we take for granted the deception we encounter, and might even feel lost without our daily dosage of bullshit advertising, politicking, journalism, and TV drama In the Book of the New Sun, the adventure masks an allusive labyrinthe, a riddle of time and meaning, that must be traversed by careful reading.Which, if we re being honest, is problematic these days Most people are not careful readers and don t want to be That is their prerogative, though as a writer myself, I find it frustrating The defining trait of modern entertainment is its ease of consumption Book of the New Sun is not easily consumed With long, tortured sentences, complex diction, discursive asides, and than a few instances of elision, even a superficial reading requires work To attain any sort of depth requires even .But this work does not go unrewarded The complexity doesn t exist for the sake of complexity, but rather to ambush the reader with a delightfully refreshing subversion and to present a complete picture of a character s mind and life I even found the book rewarding on a sentence by sentence level It is peppered throughout with insight and interesting prose.In short, Book of the New Sun is very much like a trek through a hilly country More difficult than taking a car to be sure, but not all that challenging, and I never knew what new beauty I d find over the next hill.To be shorter still, I loved this book I absolutely loved it It changed me the way a good love affair changes you It taught me to expect from my literature.


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