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Nightside the Long Sun (The Book of the Long Sun #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  937 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
It has been nearly a decade since the completion of Gene Wolfe's four-volume epic The Book of the New Sun, "one of the modern masterpieces of imaginative literature - an evocation of a world so far in the future that magic and technology, poetry and science, are indistinguishable, a world heavy with time but not yet bereft of hope, a world brought to life by Mr. Wolfe's un ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 333 pages
Published December 15th 1993 by Tor Books (first published 1993)
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Andronikos Komnenos YES! Book of the New Sun is quite literally the best book series I have ever read.... EVER. I've just started Nightside of the Long Sun, but from what…moreYES! Book of the New Sun is quite literally the best book series I have ever read.... EVER. I've just started Nightside of the Long Sun, but from what I know from the original series, Wolfe is (and these aren't my words) "the master of the casual revelation." EVERYTHING is potentially crucial, and there are so many subliminal plots (I wouldn't say sub-plots, because they don't occur in any sort of delineation) that his books resemble more puzzles than linear stories.

So in other words... yes, you'll miss ALOT. Everything, in fact, and not just in terms of failing to comprehend sections of the plot that depend on other sections of the plot you previously thought superfluous: you'll miss the Book of the New Sun itself... which is awesome...

Anyway: if that sounds confusing... it's because it is. But you'll see. I'm not so much a Gene Wolfe fan as a Gene Wolfe addict: if you get into the Severian's world, you will be hooked for life, guaranteed. After I finished The Citadel of the Autarch I thought I'd take a break from Wolfe... here I am three months later, casually passing by Nightside of the Long Sun in my local library, fingers brushing the cover, quivering a little...

You don't know you have Wolfe withdrawal until you understand the symptoms. No: you haven't lost an appreciation for literature, you're just trying to read someone else after reading The Book of the New Sun while you could be reading another Gene Wolfe book... even though you don't WANT to read another Gene Wolfe book because he'll make your head implode...

Anyway, that's my two cents: READ THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN! (less)

Community Reviews

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Ivan Lutz
Jun 25, 2015 Ivan Lutz rated it liked it
Zapravo je negdje 2,46 ali kako nemamo zakonsku obavezu zaključivati ocjene po srednjoj vrijednsti, evo trojke samo iz razloga što se nadam da će u ostale 3 knjige radnja biti brža, dinamičnija, zanimljivija i uzbudljivija...
Marla  Smith
Apr 10, 2010 Marla Smith rated it it was amazing
I don't think I'll ever be able to read another sci-fi/fantasy book without comparing them to Wolfe. He's one of those authors that you think, "Yes, he is obviously talented" without attaching much emotion to the thought and then comes around your back door with a line or a concept that catapults him into your favorite author bin. After finishing the book of the New Sun, I decided to check out his other books and I hesitated on this series for a while. A world on a giant starship? Do I have time ...more
May 27, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is the first book in the Long sun tetralogy. It took me longer to get into than any previous work of Wolfe's that I've read, but ultimately it was well worth it.

I realize, like with all Wolfe books, the writing is not something that will be appreciated by all types of readers. Wolfe does not go to any extreme lengths to explain to the reader what is going on or even disclose many details regarding the world the story takes place in. Rather, he doles out bits of information sparingly
John Patterson
Dec 25, 2014 John Patterson rated it really liked it
In Nightside the Long Sun begins a four part series of a three part cycle (The Solar Cycle includes the Book of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book of the Short Sun) where Patera (a title for a priest, teacher, and headmaster of a school/temple) Silk receives a revelation from the Outsider. The Outsider, the least well known of the pantheon that Silk preaches about and gives sacrifices to, tasks Silk from saving his manteion from closure (school/temple). This leads to what can on ...more
Feb 16, 2016 Erik rated it really liked it
Mr. Wolfe does not make it easy. This book drops you right in the middle of a whole new world without a single word of context. You learn only from experience (or sneaking a peek at wikipedia) what is going on and why, and then only ever partially. On top of this, you start in what must be the least interesting corner of that world mentally shouting at the protagonist to get on with it already. And that protagonist! This guy has Severian's (from the "new sun" series) aloof and tedious nature in ...more
May 07, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Young priest enlightened.
Faces demon, criminals.
Jacket has spoilers.
Aug 29, 2015 Derek rated it liked it
Wolfe's gimmick is unreliable narrators. Since this is in third person, I'm curious how it will play out. Certainly the author is parsimonious with details, as though relating the story to someone perfectly familiar with the lifestyle and state of things on the Whorl, the strange O'Neill cylinder environment that forms the entire world to these characters. Part of the joy in reading is sussing out the words between the words, uncovering the meaning of things mentioned in passing. What is a "chem ...more
If it isn't Earth, then why is the religion so similar to the religions in the Hellenistic period? And if it is some far-future Earth, then where are the non-Western influences on the culture? I mean, if you do straight fantasy, high fantasy, whatever, swords and wizards and all that, and it is basically medieval stuff with monsters and magic, okay. But if you make the magic technology, and the monsters were genetically engineered, and the Gods are either post-humans or AIs or something, then do ...more
Aug 10, 2014 Kyle rated it really liked it
So Gene Wolfe isn't for everyone. Starting this book felt a bit like stepping into another culture, with words and histories generally unexplained, sometimes for a long time. (We get a fairly good idea of what the "long sun" looks like in this book, but I don't remember anyone actually describing it clearly until book 2 of the series.)

The thing is, I think that's pretty satisfying (like visiting a new culture, really): eventually there's a sense of satisfaction about the things you understand a
Jul 23, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it
It is a curious thing how much we credit a book merit based upon expectation and experience of a writer. Wolfe is "the most important writer in the SF field" my book tells me. His achievements and qualities are exposed with exuberance on the outer shell of the book itself. The effect this has on the reader is an intriguing point of research... I wonder if there is the potential of a pressuring into appreciating Wolfe taking place for some readers.

And then my own experience with Wolfe plays into
Jan 03, 2012 Ted rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-american, sci-fi
I have enjoyed reading all the Gene Wolfe books that I've read, and I've read several. However, I have never quite been able to experience them as five star fiction. My guess is that many of the plaudits he has received are so complimentary because his genre is science fiction, and for science fiction, they are outstanding works. They do approach what I would call true literature much closer than the genre in general. But to me they don't quite make it.
Rafal Jasinski
May 10, 2014 Rafal Jasinski rated it really liked it
Wybór "Ciemnej strony Długiego Słońca", jako początku przygody z twórczością Gene Wolfe'a, może wydawać się niezbyt sensownym posunięciem, ponieważ jest to pierwszy tom serii prequeli do najbardziej cenionego przez fanów autora cyklu noszącego tytuł "Księga Nowego Słońca". Na niniejszą książkę padło jednak zupełnym przypadkiem i, chcąc nie chcąc, musiałem się z tym pogodzić.

O dziwo, nie przeszkadzało mi to absolutnie, albowiem jeśli powieść ta odwołuje się - co jest chyba faktem - do wcześniej n
Sep 24, 2015 travelgirlut rated it liked it
This book was not what I was expecting. It's labeled sci-fi, and while it takes place in a spaceship, that's really not the focus of the story at all. It's really a story about people, a priest in particular and his adventures in trying to save his parish. I can see how in future books this might become sci-fi, but I really can't call this one that. Regardless, I did enjoy the story.

However, the book ends very abruptly. The story is moving along, and then it's over. There's really no resolution
Dec 20, 2009 JP rated it liked it
It was interesting, but, of course, until I get to the rest of the series a lot of things won't make sense. Wolfe is like that.
Alyssa Watson
This has a very unusual structure as far as books go and yet Gene Wolfe succeeds in keeping the tension running throughout. A priest of a fantasy religion decides to steal back his church and school for the poor after it's been legally sold to a notorious crime boss. This book's charm comes in large part from the strange reversal of roles that run throughout. This was my first Gene Wolfe book and I'm already in love with his rich writing style.
Now that I'm in the middle of reading the last book
William Crosby
Nov 13, 2015 William Crosby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Science fiction mix of high tech items with medieval peasantry, augury, and a religious pantheon.

The focus is on Patera Silk who is an augur and wants to save his manteion (religious chapter house) and constantly judges all his actions in terms of gods and devils.

The talking bird is a quirky touch.

In some ways Silk is a detective, as he constantly deduces who people are and what has happened.

There is much that is happening which is not explicitly detailed.

This book requires a sequel as it does n
Mar 22, 2016 Bart rated it really liked it
Shelves: speculative, reviewed
Please read the rest of this review on Weighing A Pig...


That doesn’t mean Nightside is a very good book. As with all Wolfe I’ve read, the same list of adjectives – bizarre, strange, baffling, different, mythical, mysterious and oddball – springs to mind. And harsh, and deadpan. Nightside is set in a giant generational space ship, of the spinning cylinder Rendezvous With Rama-type. It was sent from a far, far future Earth (or Urth, or the Whorl) to some distant planet. Yet Nightside doesn’t
Ed Holden
Aug 06, 2011 Ed Holden rated it liked it
After reading this first Long Sun book, as well as the Book of the New Sun, I can honestly say that no one does twists like Gene Wolfe. They aren't twists in the Matrix/LOST/Usual Suspects sense of that word, where the underlying concept is turned on its head, but merely turns that take the story abruptly in a new direction. (Note: mild spoilers follow.) Just when I think we're going to focus on main character Patera Silk becoming a thief, he spends a morning solving a murder in a brothel.

My onl
Neil Fein
Feb 13, 2010 Neil Fein rated it really liked it
If what you hold dear is a thing that helps people by its nature, is it morally correct to steal and perhaps murder evil men to protect it? I'd think not, but it's a dilemma that Patera Silk, the protagonist of the first volume of Gene Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun.

While many of the same themes that Mr. Wolfe explores in The Book of the New Sun are present here - transformation, religion, government - yet are given new twists. The author's trademarked unreliable narrator is here more self-del
Perry Whitford
Jan 28, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it it was amazing
Patera Silk, an auger and teacher in an unusual world dominated by an Olympian-style family of nine gods, receives enlightenment from a different God altogether called the Outsider, then sets out to have his church and school saved from closure.

The mantion has been bought from the council of his home city Viron in lieu of owed taxes by an unscrupulous businessman called Blood whom Silk decides to compel to change his mind, even if that means using theft and coercion to succeed.

That's the simple
Sep 20, 2012 LordOfDorkness rated it it was amazing
Anyone looking for a rollicking adventure or a 'mild read' should avoid this book. It would be dry, slow, nonsensical and boring. I don't know if I can categorize this book. Or the type of person that would like it... Yes, it's got a bunch of fantasy and science fiction elements (e.g. artificial intelligences that live in these computer monitor things that some people have in their homes, Gods, though these Gods might just be a very technologically advanced race, the equivalent of cyborg nuns) b ...more
Dec 05, 2009 Wil rated it liked it
I've read, or tried to read, other Gene Wolf novels and this is the first one I was able to finish. That sounds harsh, but despite his obvious writing talents, I wasn't really able to get into his work. The writing is, or can be, quite dense (not so much in this book though), with at times odd vocabulary (I wasn't quite sure if he was making up words or picking incredibly obscure ones, or both), and plot developments are largely lacking. His main strength is characterization, and the characters ...more
Roger N.
Jan 12, 2012 Roger N. rated it really liked it
Two days. A novel jam-packed with incident, almost three hundred pages in length, and that’s the span of time it covers: two days. We are somewhat prepared for the inexhaustible detail with which it covers those two days after an early shopping trip in which everything in the marketplace is inventoried and categorized, given to us in marvelous lists that set the scene splendidly while delaying the actual meat of the chapter for pages and pages.

It almost feels as if Wolfe is toning down playing w
Oct 15, 2007 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NIGHTSIDE THE LONG SUN is the first volume of Gene Wolfe's four-volume work The Book of the Long Sun, which is a story of political intrigue, revolution, and Christian allegory set in a starship sent from Earth to colonize a distant planet.Gene Wolfe rose to fame with his magisterial work The Book of the New Sun, which is one of my most cherished books. The Book of the Long Sun takes place, in fact, in the same universe as Wolfe's masterpiece. However, differences abound. The Book of the New Sun ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it
A good read and much more accesible than some of Wolfe's other books. This one is the first of a 4-book series that follows Patera Silk, a priest in a distant future who, desperate to save his "church" from financial ruin and feeling that he's been visited by one of his faith's gods, decides to resort to crime to save his mission. Whereas the previous series is brilliant, it's extremely dense and requires plenty of concentration. This book shows some of the same fascinating depth, but it's more ...more
Robert Beech
Apr 08, 2011 Robert Beech rated it it was amazing
The opening salvo in what is probably Gene Wolfe's master work (the seven books comprising "The Book of the Long Sun" and "The Book of the Short Sun"). The main character, Silk, is a priest in the state religion in a world inside a star ship- a ship whose inhabitants have forgotten that they are in a ship or that humans have ever lived anywhere else. The"Gods", Silk worships appear in "magic windows" connected by sacred cables to "mainframe", but have powers that make them seem as God-like as an ...more
Dev Null
Nov 26, 2014 Dev Null rated it really liked it
I really wish they'd chop that bit about (view spoiler) out of the Goodreads plot summary. It's a shame to drop that on people who haven't read it yet.

It's not that it's a spoiler in the sense of a major plot twist that you wouldn't otherwise see coming, but Wolfe does such an artful slow reveal of the setting that it's a shame to foul it up by telling everyone where they'll end up in advance.
Jan 09, 2012 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Writing this review after having reread it recently. Wolfe is a VERY rereadable author. There are so many clues to what is going on that one cannot possibly decipher on the first reading, and knowing what is going to happen ahead of time creates vast amounts of pleasurable dramatic irony as you catch the clever hints. Definitely deserving of 5 stars for all the reasons you will read in other reviews, BUT this isn't nearly the top of my list of Wolfe's work.

Most accessible and also probably the b
Nov 29, 2008 Pan rated it it was amazing
This book is a perfect example of character development and panoramic setting combined into a balanced tapestry. The storyline is secondary in importance to what happens moment to moment with the primary character, a priest become thief, and those he interacts with. Gene wolfe remains the master of characterization and presents a beautiful, realistic, hard sci-fi setting with notes of fantasy and reverent religious undertones to give it plenty of depth. It feels like a story of future history fu ...more
Feb 20, 2011 Elgin rated it really liked it
I always thoroughly enjoy Gene Wolfe's work. My favorite works of his are slow to develop, intricate in story line, and
peopled with amazing characters. I have read the Books of the Long Sun before and on seeing this one on the shelf
of the library felt I had to read them again. This series is a beautifully written book and story about a generations long
starship voyage in a huge self sustaining environment. The voyage is coming to and end, but nobody in the "whorl"
realizes that they are on a ship
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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 about Gene Wolfe...

Other Books in the Series

The Book of the Long Sun (4 books)
  • Lake of the Long Sun (The Book of the Long Sun #2)
  • Caldé of the Long Sun (The Book of the Long Sun #3)
  • Exodus from the Long Sun (The Book of the Long Sun #4)

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