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The Citadel of the Autarch (The Book of the New Sun #4)
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The Citadel of the Autarch (The Book of the New Sun #4)

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  4,966 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
Volume Four of the Book of the New Sun.

Severian the Torturer continues his epic journey across the lands of Urth, a journey as fraught with peril as it is with wonder. Exiled from his guild he is an outcast, but his travels are woven with strange portents. The Claw of the Conciliator, relic of a prophet and promise of a new age, flames to life in his hands. He carries the
Paperback, 330 pages
Published November 1st 1983 by Timescape Books (first published 1983)
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Mar 26, 2013 Brad rated it really liked it
So now that all the big reveals have come through, plus a very nice one to redefine the rest of the series, I can officially say that I *like* this series instead of just sitting around being mystified and weirded out by it while wondering how to justify the traditional action events with the truly odd.

And now I know.

It's pretty awesome, but not quite up to the level of mindfuqery that I was prepared to expect based on all the multiple time-travel and memory-cannibalisms that we've been subjecte
Jun 22, 2009 Palmyrah rated it it was amazing
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
The conclusion of the Book of the New Sun—this series was apparently written as one manuscript and divided into four books for publication and they truly feel that way. I think that to properly appreciate it, I would have to go back and read through all four continuously. The second time through, I would know which details to pay attention to and a lot of the small confusions which I have regarding the plot would likely resolve themselves. Unfortunately, life is short and I’m unlikely to be will ...more
Jun 12, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
4.5 stars rounded down. A very satisfying ending to a wild ride. :)

The Book of the New Sun series overall gets 5 stars, and is automatically added to my "reread someday" pile.
Feb 27, 2014 Mitchell rated it it was ok
Gene Wolfe’s deceptively long Book of the New Sun comes to a close with this, the final volume, The Citadel of the Autarch. (Actually, that’s not quite true – he apparently wrote an extra book in 1987 called The Urth of the New Sun, which I may or may not read in the future.)

This was a difficult series to review because it’s really just one long book split into four, and – like many promising stories whose ultimate value hinges on how well they turn out – I couldn’t really judge it until now. So
4.0 stars. Excellent end to a unique and ground-breaking science-fantasy series. I have never read anything like this before. Now that I have completed all four books, I will need to go back and re-read them (or re-listen to them) again as there is so much going on that I believe the second time through may be even more enjoyable than the first. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

Winner: John W. Campbell Award for Best Novel (1984)
Nominee: Britsh Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1984)
Jul 28, 2011 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And so concludes one of the strangest fantasy series I've ever read. At times I felt bowled over by the meandering narrative, beautiful prose and superb story telling but at others I felt a little lost trying to wrestle with the cryptic meanings and grasp just what he author was trying to say.

I particularly loved the first half of this book, while Severian convalesces after a particularly severe fever, he is called upon to adjudicate between several suitors who are trying to win over a woman and
Jun 14, 2016 John rated it really liked it
Easily 5 stars for the series as a whole.

4.5 stars for this 4th installment; the extra half-star is in appreciation of the fact that Wolfe managed to satisfactorily wrap up such a tangled and contorted plot. I've read many books that beg for a second reading, but this is the only one I've read where the narrator literally instructs you to go back and read it again. Who am I to argue with the Autarch, whose plot twists are the delight of his subjects?
Tobias Langhoff
May 27, 2017 Tobias Langhoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And so this epic tetralogy closes; actually, this is rather the fourth volume of one long novel, because things didn’t start making a lick of sense before the third book, and even know there are lots of things I don’t understand. I intend to read the coda next, THE URTH OF THE NEW SUN, which apparently will make things even clearer, although many people say that a second read-through might be required too.

It was a wild ride, and a great one. Looking back, I see I gave the second book four stars
Nov 03, 2012 Jefferson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
In the first chapter of The Citadel of the Autarch (1983), Severian, no longer a lictor, is walking without career, sword, or companion towards the war. The perpetual conflict between the Ascians and his Commonwealth has been lurking off-stage in the first three of his books, but here we learn with Severian that "War is not a new experience; it is a new world." He watches energy weapons flash violet on the horizon and feels the ground shake beneath him. Hungry, thirsty, weak, and covered with ro ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 18, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The rusted chains of prison moons are shattered by the sun. I walk a road, horizons change, the tournament's begun. The purple piper plays his tune; the choir softly sings three lullabies in an ancient tongue for the court of the crimson king.” Reading The Citadel of the Autarch I often remembered the Court of the Crimson King song – they both boast the same enthralling atmosphere of luxuriant decadence.
“The dead Autarch, whose face I had seen in scarlet ruin a few moments before, now lived aga
Gustavo Muñoz (Akito)
I could spend weeks trying to properly organize my thoughts on The Book of the New Sun, but they would still be fundamentally the same; it's the most well written, thought, and executed work of fiction I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It is immense in scope, grandiose in its quality, and in a single word, genius.

I have no way of expressing the inhumane skill that Wolfe has to describe his world. I was completely dumbfounded every time I was able to solve the inner puzzle of some of th
Dec 12, 2015 Elen rated it liked it
This series as a whole would have been a lot better if it hadn't been written by someone like Gene Wolfe. Great ideas marred by Wolfe's bizarrely reactionary politics, crammed full of misogyny and regressive shit from beginning to end. It's like wading through shit and occasionally finding a 20 dollar bill. Did not feel worth it in the end. Third book was p good though.
Jan 01, 2015 fromcouchtomoon rated it really liked it
From fragmented miasma to coherent denouement, The Book of the New Sun is a hero's journey from ignorance to enlightenment... the hero being the tenacious reader. Flutter-bys need not apply.
Brian Rogers
Jun 17, 2017 Brian Rogers rated it it was amazing
Staggeringly good as always. The series is so deep. and so rewards rereading, that it's hard to not dip back into it every few years. This final volume feels like its broken into three clear segments - the lazaret, the war and the autarchy - and each gives new insights into the world and, increasing;ly the underlying philosophical and religious underpinnings of the series.

If you have made it this far alongside Severian, dear reader, you will not be disappointed. But it is no easy road.
Matt Ward
Mar 19, 2017 Matt Ward rated it really liked it
Thoughts on the full New Sun set here:
Alan Chen
May 24, 2016 Alan Chen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
From the beginning of the series we know that Severian becomes the Autarch (the leader of his people) but we don't know how he get to this position. This is the final volume (however a sequel was written after) and Severian is no closer to the position of power as volume 1. Severian uses the claw on a dying soldier which brings him back to life but in the process of taking him to a camp he becomes injured himself. He finds that he is being taken care of by the Pelerines, those that he were looki ...more
Nick Tramdack
Mar 22, 2011 Nick Tramdack rated it really liked it
My experience with fantasy trilogies or series has tended to be that the quality drops off in the last one. For instance, Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials definitely fit this pattern of the "weak last book". Who's to say why this happens? All I know is, even the great Gene Wolfe isn't immune.

Of course, the novel's still a four-starrer. It's just that structurally, I can't agree with Wolfe's choices to cram the first half of the book full of basically unrelated materials that seem almost
Kat  Hooper
Sep 18, 2010 Kat Hooper rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Citadel of the Autarch is a satisfying conclusion to Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun. (A fifth book, The Urth of the New Sun, is a coda to the original four books.) We’ve known all along that Severian the torturer would be the autarch by the end of his story, but his fascinating journey to the throne is what this saga is all about… on the surface, at least.

What it’s really about, for those who want to see it, is the juxtaposition of future and pas
Bart Everson
Sep 13, 2010 Bart Everson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aloud, re-read
So now I have read the New Sun cycle more times than I can count (but at least a dozen), forward and backward and every which way. I just read it aloud to my wife for the second time. Yes, the whole thing. Well almost — we skipped the "play" chapter in the second volume. The first time I read it to her, I was careful never to explain the many mysteries unfolded within, in hopes she would enjoy the experience of discovery herself. This time I took the opposite approach, explaining every little th ...more
Nov 07, 2012 Garrett rated it really liked it
A good end to the series. I feel like this was the end of the road for this series. I know there is a 5th book, and maybe I just read them too quickly, but I have no interest in reading #5. I think I'll read this series again in the future just to see what I missed the first time around. Often I wondered if I was getting lost or if there was no path to begin with. Either way, like I said before, I enjoyed the journey and this series would be a good one to discuss in a group setting because I thi ...more
Nov 11, 2010 furious rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves science fiction or fantasy, or words, or having their minds blown
Recommended to furious by: Kerry
Shelves: mines, sci-fi, fantasy, mmpb
wow. The Book of the New Sun is psychedelic. like some kind of inverted nesting doll, whenever you are able to crack it open, you discover that what's inside is actually *bigger* than that in which it rested.

this series has redefined science fiction/fantasy for me in a way that i thought impossible since i first completed the Dune series.
Jun 13, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing
I've read this series about three times. I used to be an avid reader of fantasy literature, but after experiencing the intellectual and emotional heights Wolfe is capable of reaching, other fantasy novels looked like kids stuff. I had to give up the genre for years after reading this.

I guess Tolkein was the Alpha, and Wolfe was the Omega of fantasy lit for me.
Mar 02, 2016 Kurt rated it really liked it
Nice wrap up for the series. Most of the deep puzzle and meanings, that others have mentioned, I seem to have missed. Still an enjoyable read.
May 10, 2017 Wade rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-re-read
Well - I'm finished. And like everyone who I've read who likes Wolfe says, I will have to read it again... and the prospect is exciting! I don't think I could just turn around and start over right away, but I will pick it up again before too long. The reason for the re-read is that things transpire in the final book that insist upon a total reinterpretation of all that came before, but because our natural interpretations, once made, and often done instantaneously and without volition, are stored ...more
Charles Lupo
Feb 09, 2017 Charles Lupo rated it really liked it
I have judged this series fairly harshly. It is very highly acclaimed. It took me until this final volume, where everything finally comes together for me to appreciate it. Things in book one, that just seem extremely strange are explained, so much so that I am going to try to locate print copies to reread. There really is a method to the madness. I would have a very hard time recommending that someone invest 40+ hours listening to the 4 books in this series, but taken as a whole it is far better ...more
Ian Cathey
Mar 13, 2017 Ian Cathey rated it it was amazing
Excellent finale, happy with how things were wrapped up.
Nov 30, 2016 Eulercauchy rated it it was amazing
Great book. Beautifully written, I should probably go back and reread it.
Aug 17, 2016 Hellread rated it it was ok
I don't know why I expect every next book to somehow neatly tie everything together... It's more of the same with even more questions and even less satisfactory answers.

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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 New Sun (5 books)
  • The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1)
  • The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2)
  • The Sword of the Lictor (Volume Three of The Book of the New Sun)
  • The Urth of the New Sun (The Book of the New Sun, #5)

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“And what of the dead? I own that I thought of myself, at times, almost as dead. Are they not locked below ground in chambers smaller than mine was, in their millions of millions? There is no category of human activity in which the dead do not outnumber the living many times over. Most beautiful children are dead. Most soldiers, most cowards. The fairest women and the most learned men – all are dead. Their bodies repose in caskets, in sarcophagi, beneath arches of rude stone, everywhere under the earth. Their spirits haunt our minds, ears pressed to the bones of our foreheads. Who can say how intently they listen as we speak, or for what word? ” 32 likes
“What struck me on the beach–and it struck me indeed, so that I staggered as at a blow–was that if the Eternal Principle had rested in that curved thorn I had carried about my neck across so many leagues, and if it now rested in the new thorn (perhaps the same thorn) I had only now put there, then it might rest in everything, in every thorn in every bush, in every drop of water in the sea. The thorn was a sacred Claw because all thorns were sacred Claws; the sand in my boots was sacred sand because it came from a beach of sacred sand. The cenobites treasured up the relics of the sannyasins because the sannyasins had approached the Pancreator. But everything had approached and even touched the Pancreator, because everything had dropped from his hand. Everything was a relic. All the world was a relic. I drew off my boots, that had traveled with me so far, and threw them into the waves that I might not walk shod on holy ground.” 29 likes
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