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The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2)
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The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2)

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  5,424 ratings  ·  158 reviews
Severian is in possession of a gem considered to be "The Claw of the Conciliator", a powerful relic of the Master of Power, a legendary figure of mythic proportions. Armed with his sword, Terminus Est, and the Claw, Severian continues his journey to Thrax, the city of his exile. Bizarre apes, strange cannibalistic rituals, and the foreigner named Jonas all lie in his futur ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 255 pages
Published February 1982 by Timescape Books (first published 1981)
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The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene WolfeThe Claw of the Conciliator by Gene WolfePerdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Scar by China MiévilleIn the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
High Literary Fantasy
2nd out of 114 books — 24 voters
Tagged by Joseph M. Chiron1984 by George OrwellThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Road by Cormac McCarthyFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Smart Apocalyptic and Dystopian Fiction
103rd out of 247 books — 335 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Claw of the Conciliator is the second book in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun quartet. If you read The Shadow of the Torturer and felt like you were lost (or drunk), and weren’t sure whether things would get clearer in the second book, I have to tell you that no, they don’t. But if you, like me, enjoy that dreamy I’m-not-sure-where-I-am-or-how-I-got-here-or-where-I’m-going-but-everything-sure-feels-fine literary experience, then read on, because S
...more
Keely
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
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Well, this one was not as enthralling to me as the first. Here we follow our hero (so to speak) through many, varied and esoteric adventures and...finally, at long last, as the book ends (view spoiler)

I mentioned in my review of the first volume of this series that there is, especially through the internal dialogues a very existential part of this story. That comes more to the forefront here. We also get lots and lots
...more
Korynn
Well, this volume starts out by abandoning all the characters introduced to spend time with the last character introduced at the very end of the first volume. If this doesn't catch you off guard, you're a Gene Wolfe fan in the making. Again the environment seems as much a character as the protangonist, the stalwart Severian. Half the time while I'm reading I feel I'm way over my head wading through the middle of some allegory of prophetic literature and every sci-fi/fantasy literary allusion tha ...more
Traveller
The Book of The New Sun is one of Wolfe's more contraversial post-modernist experimentations in narrative structure, in which it is hard to judge each volume on its own; -to be fair, I feel one should read the cycle as a whole and judge it as a whole.

...and as to the accusations of misogynism, I don't really see much misogynism in Severian's sexual escapades as much as in his continual judgement of women as being "weak" and his continuous harping on this theme, which does come across as pretty m
...more
Stephen
4.5 stars. The second volume in The Book of the New Sun Tetralogy continuing the story began in The Shadow of the Torturer. This is one of the most imaginative science fiction/fantasy epics ever written. Highly Recommended!

Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1983)
Winner: Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (1983)
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1983)
Nominee: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Best Novel (1983)
Nominee: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (1983)
Eric Kibler
This is the second volume in Wolfe's tetralogy "Book of the New Sun". In the first volume, lead character Severian starts out as an apprentice torturer and it's not a spoiler to say he ends up as the ruler of a continent (the Autarch) in the final volume. These books are his memoirs, written from the seat of power.

The setting is our world of perhaps thousands of years hence. Space travel had once been common, as had contact with extraterrestrial races. Now there is no more space travel, and we'r
...more
Mark
I finished this book and I'm looking forward to the next one in the series. I will add a more comprehensive review later. It's tough to figure out how I feel about this series. I like it. I might love it.

Words I had to look up online:
indanthrene - a shade of blue.
cacogen - an antisocial person.
hexaemeron - the first six days of creation.
meretrices - plural of meretrix, a prostitute.
baluchither - a now-extinct mammal that was 18 feet tall, 30 feet long, and weighed 20 tonnes. Also called Paracera
...more
Jefferson
If Gene Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer (1980) is Severian's bildingsroman, depicting his growth from a boy apprentice to a young journeyman of the guild of torturers and his exile into the world outside it, The Claw of the Conciliator (1981), the second novel in Wolfe's four-book science fiction classic The Urth of the New Sun, is his romance, relating his experiences--many involving women he loves--outside Nessus, the City Imperishable, as he attempts to travel north to become the lictor of ...more
Palmyrah
I am by no means competent to review this literary masterpiece, but — having read the litany of confusion on the review pages of this volume and its companions — I wish to state the following, simply in order to be helpful.

1. The four volumes of The Book of the New Sun are one long novel, not four separate books. It was originally published in four volumes because it was too expensive and cumbersome to print as one. Don't expect the satisfaction of an ending at the conclusion of every volume. Ex
...more
aPriL eVoLvEs (ex-Groot)
I think the author got caught up in showing off and forgot he was writing a novel. While brilliant, I can't imagine anyone saying at this point, "wow, exciting series, can't wait for the next one!" And mean it, unless you are a student of mythology, experimental literature and want to do some showing off yourself in reading almost incomprehensible books. Probably readers who have completed Infinite Jest and Ulysses are bragging about having 'enjoyed this brilliant literary tour-de-force!' Which ...more
Bryce
This was a reread. Second of the four volumes of the Book of the New Sun. Last time I attempted the book I only made it 2.5 volumes in. Hoping I'll do better this time.

Dialogue contrived (some of the characters are far too eloquent, and the lower-class ones are indicated primarily by dropped g's). Severian is a cold fish emotionally, and while that fits with his character (he tortures and kills people for a living), it can keep stakes low.

But this a trip into the deep future, a pleasure to read
...more
Ryan
If ever there was a "marmite" series in fantasy, it would be Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. To its admirers, it's one of the most brilliant, literary works in the genre; to its detractors, it's frustrating and overly cryptic.

Either way, Wolfe's creation is like nothing else in fantasy. Set eons in the future, when the planet is covered in the remnants of long-forgotten civilizations and the sun is beginning to go out from some mysterious ailment, the cycle follows the journeys of Severian, th
...more
Ranting Dragon
http://www.rantingdragon.com/the-claw...


The Claw of the Conciliator is the second entry in Gene Wolfe’s masterpiece series, The Book of the New Sun. Like the preceding volume, The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator was critically acclaimed, receiving the Nebula Award for best novel in 1981 and the Locus Award in 1982.

Narrator and protagonist Severian continues his meandering journey towards Thrax. Time skips ahead from the conclusion of The Shadow of the Torturer and Severian fi
...more
Adam J. Osterkamp
I’ve said it before, but Gene Wolfe books, at least for me, are work. I feel like each of his books should come with a warning: may cause confusion. It might sound dumb to you, to think of a book as work, and if that’s the case then perhaps his books aren’t for you.

But if you’re like me, and the work and confusion are a small part of what makes his writing so great, then you’re in for a treat with the second book in this series.

The beginning of the book was very disorienting as Severian picks up
...more
Jeremy Kohlman
It's hard to know what to say about this book. Which is probably a bad thing. I like the idea of it, but can't say that I particularly enjoyed reading it. Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series have been quite a frustrating read thus far. It's like you just know there's a really cool story and characters in there somewhere, but the author is keeping it all a secret from the reader, for some reason. I'm now two novels into the series and all I can say for sure is that a bunch of random weird events ...more
Jeff James
This volume of the Book of the New Sun was a bit slow-going for me. It's a relatively short book - 250 pages - but the storyline is complex, the cast of characters is large and confusing, and the narrator is possibly unreliable even though he claims to remember everything that happens to him. This part of the story definitely amped up the surrealism, too, which didn't help as far as keeping things straight. I'm really enjoying this series so far, however, and I look forward to eventually reading ...more
Fantasy Literature
The Claw of the Conciliator is the second book in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun quartet. If you read The Shadow of the Torturer and felt like you were lost (or drunk), and weren’t sure whether things would get clearer in the second book, I have to tell you that no, they don’t. But if you, like me, enjoy that dreamy I’m-not-sure-where-I-am-or-how-I-got-here-or-where-I’m-going-but-everything-sure-feels-fine literary experience, then read on, because Severian’s head is a strange and fascinat ...more
☆ Ruth ☆
I have no idea why I even started this book - curiosity I suppose. Anyway I did finish it and it followed more or less the same pattern as the first one. It could have been an interesting and compelling story but for me it was ruined by a quantity of irrelevant nonsense interjected into the story and with no apparent purpose other than to pad out the narrative. There was a whole chapter relating some very bizarre and pseudo-mythical tale and then another whole chapter written as a play, which wa ...more
Sean Chick
Like the first book this is one is a meandering and frustrating trip through a dying world. It is more a collection of scenes and observations than a coherent plot. Much of this can be laid at Severian's feet. He is not so much unreliable as he is unable to understand some of what goes on around him. So often things just happen and we only understand it later on or sometimes not at all. Overall, I am surprised I am still reading and enjoying this series. I think that is because of Wolfe's contem ...more
Sandra
I can see now that I started with book two of the series, but from the reviews of book one, I doubt that reading the first one would lay my complaints to rest. I doubt I would have made it through #1 any more than I'm going to torture myself by reading through this one. I'm not finishing this. I can't tell what's happening but worse than that, I'm revolted by what little I can tell. The main character is an executioner in a revolting and backward society who commits savage actions on others and ...more
Derek
oops he did it again... Although in some masochistic way I would look forward to the other books I think I am done with this series at Part 2. It isn't a horrible series but I just don't think it is going to get any better.

Book 2 suffers from the same issues as Book 1 - is it really necessary to use indanthrene to describe a shade of blue? Although kudos to Wolfe for using tribadist and algophilist in the same paragraph during an incredible awkward sexual escapade Charlaine Harris does paranorm
...more
Mitchell
This is going to be the kind of series that’s difficult to review, because the books are much the same as each other – indeed, I’m not sure why Wolfe even bothered to split one very large books into four smaller ones. The Claw of the Conciliator picks up shortly after The Shadow of the Torturer, with Severian having left the city of Nessus but been separated from his travelling companions.

The tone of the series continues to be used to enhance the sense of memoir, and grant a sense of arcane wond
...more
Chip
I honestly don't know how these books win the Nebula or Hugo. To be fair I don't read many fantasy books and there are even fewer fantasy books that I do like. This book was all over the place and didn't make much sense. They (Severian and whoever is with him at the time) go to "A LOT" of places for no seemly reason and the Torturer falls in love and lust with many woman. The first book was better than this "award winning" (ha!) book. I don't plan to read the 3rd or 4th ones.
Perry Whitford
In the second part of Wolfe's seminal 'Book of the New Sun' quadrilogy, banished torturer Severian is still on the way to the mountain city of Thrax to take up a position there in order to atone for showing compassion to a prisoner, but on the way his task is broadened out to a quest when he acquires additional missions.

One of those is to return the ancient gem called the Claw of the Conciliator to its traditional owners, the Pelerines. A religious artifact, Severian discovers that the Claw can
...more
Todd Johnson
Here's my only problem with Gene Wolfe novels: he's like the Umberto Eco of fantasy, in that you spend maybe 7% of the time reading one of his books wondering how much you're missing. But just getting the first level or two of the story is plenty to really enjoy it, and Wolfe's prose is so much fun to read.

This book has a really great fable-within-a-book, and a too-allusive-for-me play-within-a-book.
Alotor
I enjoyed the first book a lot... but this second book it's a lot stranger than the first. I know Gene Wolf it's a tough reading, but in my opinion the story of the first book was better. Anyway there are 2 more books to finish the series so I hope everything fits into its place when it's all wrapped up.
Simo
It was indeed an okay book. Perhaps if read right after it was first published, the book and the whole series would have made stronger impact on me, as the type of storytelling used here was probably not as common in science fiction as it is nowadays. I like the world described in the Book of the New Sun series, but I am not that big fan of the form of storytelling Wolfe uses. The form chosen makes the narrative too twisted and unambigious and it is therefore impossible for me to famliliarize wi ...more
Karin
I still don't know what to think of this series. Over and over there are these casual "and they were someone else all along" reveals, and I can see where someone who loved the book might reread and catch the subtle things Wolfe is doing while the audience doesn't know who they are really reading about, but I don't think I could read these again even with the promise of more depth.

My main problems boil down to the pacing, the lack of female characters (rather than just helpless sex objects), and
...more
Jason gordon
By the time you enter Saltus, the beginning of this book, you should at the very least have questions about your journey with Severian. Is he insane as he at times suspects himself to be? Is he dreaming while he assumes himself awake? Does Gene Wolfe believe in torturing his readers?

The opening of this book leaves no doubt then that you are being deceived. From the close of Shadow to the opening of Claw there is a disconnect in both the story. The resolution of the scene at the Piteous you most
...more
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Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science fict
...more
More about Gene Wolfe...
The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) Shadow & Claw (The Book of the New Sun #1-2) Sword and Citadel (The Book of the New Sun, #3-4) The Sword of the Lictor (The Book of the New Sun #3) The Citadel of the Autarch (The Book of the New Sun #4)

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“That we are capable only of being what we are remains our unforgivable sin.” 23 likes
“But I believe there is no difference between those who are called courageous and those who are branded craven than that the second are fearful before the danger and the first after it. The coward is a coward, then, because he has brought his fear with him; persons we think cowardly will sometimes amaze us by their bravery, if they have had no forewarning of their danger.” 5 likes
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