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Return to the Whorl (The Book of the Short Sun #3)

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  891 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Gene Wolfe's Return to the Whorl is the third volume, after On Blue's Waters and In Green's Jungles, of his ambitious SF trilogy The Book of the Short Sun . . . It is again narrated by Horn, who has embarked on a quest in search of the heroic leader Patera Silk. Horn has traveled from his home on the planet Blue, reached the mysterious planet Green, and visited the great
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 10th 2001 by Tor Books (first published January 2001)
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The Sacred Band by Janet E. MorrisThe Shadow of the Torturer by Gene WolfeHell Bound by Andrew P. WestonHigh Couch of Silistra by Janet E. MorrisThe Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe
High Literary Fantasy
70th out of 125 books — 46 voters
The Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Wise Man's Fear by Patrick RothfussBlood Song by Anthony  RyanPrince of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceThe Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
First Person Fantasy Sci Fi
111th out of 171 books — 106 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,518)
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Kyle Muntz
Apr 22, 2012 Kyle Muntz rated it it was amazing
i reread this series slowly over the last few months. life is worth living because writers like gene wolfe exist
Mar 13, 2013 Heath rated it it was amazing
Gene Wolfe ruined reading for me.
Daniel Petersen
Nov 30, 2015 Daniel Petersen rated it really liked it
Hm, again, not sure why this isn't already marked as read. I read it years ago. I like this trilogy probably the best out of the whole Solar Cycle, even though it is the most difficult in some respects. There's something incredibly magical about the setting and beings and events of this trilogy. I think I found the closed system of the Long Sun rather suffocating by the end and I found the dying system of the New Sun so decadent and decaying that it similarly felt somewhat oppressive, if opulent ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Tom rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
At the end of his "Solar Cycle" (12 books in all) and after reading 7 of his other novels, I have, finally, come to the realization that Gene Wolfe never writes the book you want him to and The Book of the Short Sun is no exception. This is not to say I didn't enjoy reading the series. Actually this series offered more than I could ever want or imagine, but achieving the payoff and finishing the series was a struggle. It is (like all Wolfe novels, but more so)a subtle, confusing maze where what ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it
The grande finale of Gene Wolfe's 12-volume "Solar Cycle", begun over 20 years ago with the "New Sun" quartet/quintet. Nearly all questions are answered about Horn and his altered appearance, his search for the messianic leader Calde Silk back on their mutual home spaceship, and plenty of other lingering plot threads. While all of the books in this series are touching, none may be more so than this one. We see Horn's interactions with a wide range of people and creatures, in an array of environm ...more
Althea Ann
The Final Volume of the Book of the Short Sun.

This follow-up to On Blue's Waters and In Green's Jungles continues the saga of the man who calls himself Horn, and his quest to find the political and spiritual leader, Patera Silk, and bring him back to settle political unrest in his hometown.
As in the previous two books, Wolfe uses an unreliable narrator, who speaks of things happening in multiple places and times, and whose perspective on events seems to frequently shift and disagree with that of
Feb 24, 2013 Gary rated it it was amazing
Wolfe's Sun series culminating in this one isn't just a set of very good books to read, it constitutes one of the masterpieces of our age, and perhaps longer than that. There are many many layers here and just who the narrator is becomes unclear. Return to the Whorl is a story of return to self. That's about as much as I can say without giving crucial things away. Each of these books take place on blue with the story of what took place on Green, the Whorl and the Red sun learned increasingly fro ...more
Jul 22, 2007 Katie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gene Wolfe devotees
Shelves: scifi
Well, here I am, finally at the end of the epic "Sun Cycle" (i.e. The Book of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and the Book of the Short Sun, a neat 12 books long). It is epic, and I'm happy to say that in the Book of the Short Sun (of which this is the last volume) includes trips to all three whorls: the Short Sun, the Long Sun, and the Red Sun.
I liked it, and this last book proved very exciting. Of course, it would be almost meaningless if you hadn't read the previous 11 books first. An
Jan 23, 2015 Ted rated it it was amazing
It is hard for me to explain why I've taken so long to read this book. I embarked on re-reading The Book of the Long Sun when I also started a long journey of my own, and without intending it I incorporated The Book of the Short Sun into that journey. There is a big change coming for me soon and I wanted to finish the reading before that; but still, it should not have taken me years. Finishing it only makes me want to read it all again.

I will take some of Wolfe with me on my new journey. I have
John Lawson
Mar 13, 2014 John Lawson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: David Lawson
Completion of the Book of the Short Sun trilogy. Patera Horn finally finishes his quest for Silk, and to no one's surprise he wasn't as far away as he thought. Or maybe he was. I guess it depends on how you want to look at it. The "deep secret" of the inhumi is revealed, though it wasn't much of a secret if you were paying attention. The weakest point was the last few chapters, penned by Horn's children instead of Horn himself. A strange and unnecessary shift, especially since the final scene di ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 16, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing
To review it would imply I understood it, but I am still mulling it around.

In short, though, no other author can simultaneously baffle and amaze me as can Gene Wolfe when he's at the top of his game, and the "Sun" novels are an astonishing achievement in genre literature.
Jun 12, 2016 Pinkyivan rated it it was amazing
I'll need time to recollect everything and put my finger on many things this novel offers, but I'll just say that the ending for whatever reason evoked a feeling of completion few novels do.
Jason gordon
May 05, 2016 Jason gordon rated it it was amazing
I find it difficult to pick a starting point for any review concerning a Wolfe novel. I've now read through the entire Solar Cycle, leaving a year or so between the New Sun and the Long/Short Sun series. Although the books are short in terms of page count, the stories grows inside the words until it feels like it could fill one of 2 or 3 times it's own volume. This book is no exception. I look forward to the rereading of the entire series which I feel is necessary to fully digest all that has/is ...more
Adam Vine
Apr 16, 2016 Adam Vine rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Perry Whitford
Mar 10, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wolfe ends his Short Sun series - and with it the entire twelve book Solar Cycle - in typically wonderful, confounding, richly theosophical and willfully frustrating fashion.

I realise that those qualities may not sound like much of a recommendation to some readers, or at best appear to be qualified praise, yet this is how Return to the Whorl struck me, and believe it or not I can't recommend it enough.

Horn's search for Silk was always going to take him to the Whorl, the huge generation ship whic
Terry Grignon
Apr 11, 2016 Terry Grignon rated it it was amazing
This entire series was amazing and wonderful. Intricate in how Wolfe skillfully moves from perspectives and in time. Beautiful is its world and character building. Incredible in its scope.

This is the 12th book of Wolfe's far future universe series starting with The Shadow of the Torturer and the only reason I wouldn't recommend these books is because, once you're done, you'll be so disappointed there isn't more. I guess I'll just have to read them all again!
Fantasy Literature
Aug 24, 2013 Fantasy Literature rated it really liked it
Gene Wolfe has earned a reputation for writing novels that benefit from being read twice. His works are often complex and they do tend to reward careful reading, so much so that it’s not uncommon to hear prospective readers asking which of his Solar Cycle works is the easiest to read. Wolfe’s Book of the Short Sun trilogy is certainly not the place to start, but it is an otherwise fine finish to this distinguished cycle of stories that bridge the gap between fantasy and science fiction, and for ...more
Nov 17, 2008 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I learned from this book? I'm not as smart and observant as I like to think. I finished the book and immediately wanted to pick up the first book in the trilogy and start reading again. I was reminded that Catholic writers with a SciFi bent seem to be some of the most perceptive religious thinkers around. You could build whole lecture series around the deeply profound and even sometimes true things that authors like Gene Wolfe, or C.K. Chesterton, or perhaps most famously C.S. Lewis have ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Ethan rated it it was amazing
This concludes the new sun/long sun series. Having arrived at a new solar system Patera Silk's body is occupied by the younger Horn (a papermaker!) and author of Patera Silk's adventures on the Long sun intergalactic vessel (or world depending on your view). Or is his body occupied by Horn? This series ought to be read after the books of the new sun and then the books of the long sun. It has everything (soldier robots, vampires, gods, mermaids, kind aliens, etc.....) and more. What a long strang ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Igor rated it liked it
The series finale spoils everything. It is as if the author just got tired and decided to abruptly end it by cutting all knots and employing deus ex machina.
probably the weakest of the books in the short sun series, but that's like saying that this diamond doesn't sparkle quite as much as the other two ... under certain light. it's just a little more amorphous than the preceding two; a fog less easily penetrated. it seeps under doors you can't open. still, it ties things up, and you wouldn't expect wolfe to do so neatly, because the man does not pander to facility.
Sep 26, 2013 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on this book before the end. I just could not take any more!

The first two in this trilogy (On Blue's Waters and In Green's Jungles) had just enough to keep me interested. But this one is paralysingly dull, moving at such a sluggish pace that it makes Jane Austen's characters look like James Bond. Avoid!

Paul Nash
Aug 06, 2009 Paul Nash rated it it was amazing
Wow! Gene Wolfe is always surprising! He is simply one of the best novelists we have -- read the entire series, as there are layers within layers, and a subtle, haunting quality that grows and develops as the story continues. This final book is mesmerizing!
Shannon Appelcline
Apr 03, 2016 Shannon Appelcline rated it it was amazing
This one goes to 11. Both an entirely brilliant end to a 7-book sequence and a wonderful bookend to the older New Sun series. Perhaps Wolfe's best work.
Marc Hall
Sep 09, 2010 Marc Hall rated it really liked it
More like "currently re-reading, as this is my second time through the entire twelve book "Solar Cycle."
Mar 15, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
Gene Wolfe is fantastic, and the Sun Saga is his masterpiece.
Mar 12, 2013 Rob rated it it was amazing
A great end to an intreguing series!
Eric Wisdahl
Sep 03, 2008 Eric Wisdahl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The last of the book of the short sun.
Jun 24, 2010 Track_eye rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Track_eye by: G_Riv
Beautiful. Gene Wolfe is brilliant.
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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 Short Sun (3 books)
  • On Blue's Waters
  • In Green's Jungles

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“He was a bad man, a bully and a thug, yet he was deeply religious in his way—I very much doubt that he would have made such a thing up. It was not his sort of lie, if you know what I mean.” 0 likes
“It was a cruel and lawless place without him, and it seems to me that it’s better with him, if anything. A bad horse needs a big whip, as the saying goes.” 0 likes
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