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The Book of the New Sun (The Book of the New Sun #1-4 omnibus)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  2,569 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Recently voted the greatest fantasy of all time, after The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is an extraordinary epic, set a million years in the future, on an Earth transformed in mysterious and wondrous ways, in a time when our present culture is no longer even a memory. Severian, the central character, is a torturer, exiled from his ...more
Hardcover, 1st Science Fiction Book Club Edition, 950 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by SFBC (first published 1983)
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Rui I've read these books almost by chance. Once I started, just couldn't stop. It's not an easy reading and does not have the grandeur of a Lord of the…moreI've read these books almost by chance. Once I started, just couldn't stop. It's not an easy reading and does not have the grandeur of a Lord of the Rings, the greatest epic fantasy story ever wrote. The Book of the new Sun is not an epic story and Severian is by far a friendly character yet his lifespan journey can be as gripping as Frodo's quest was. That said, if you are an impatient reader, I doubt you'll be able to appreciate it properly.(less)
Diego Davila I do recommend rereading this book before you move onto Urth. Almost everything major revealed in Urth is revealed in BotNS as well. Try at least…moreI do recommend rereading this book before you move onto Urth. Almost everything major revealed in Urth is revealed in BotNS as well. Try at least reading Shadow (and maybe claw), and if you feel like some of your questions are being answered, or if you are better understanding some of the symbolism and misdirection, I recommend continuing with BotNS. However, if you are feeling a level of frustration or disorientation similar to that which you felt on your original reading, Urth can be a remedy.

Wolfe once described good literature as "that which can be read by an educated reader and reread with increased pleasure." So try it, and if you feel the book is offering you increased pleasure the second time around (I think it will), stick with it!

Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
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345th out of 5,658 books — 18,834 voters
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Community Reviews

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Chris Hawks
Feb 13, 2012 Chris Hawks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, favorites, reviewed I have now read this book twice in the past year, and am looking forward to regular rereads every December.

I had heard lots of fantastic things about Gene Wolfe, and this series in particular, so I figured this was the best place to start. The first time through, I thought it was good. A little slow in parts, and other times it was difficult to keep up with what was going on, but overall? Very enjoyable. I rated it a modest 3.5 stars, figuring I'd revise my rating up after subsequent r
Joe Frisino
Feb 11, 2012 Joe Frisino rated it it was amazing
I just raised my rating from 4 stars to 5 after my second read-through. The Book of the New Sun ranks among the best books I've read in my 55 years on the planet. I can see why the NYT called it "a major work of twentieth-century American literature" and the Washington Post called Gene Wolfe "the finest writer the science fiction world has yet produced."

The story is set so far in the future that the Sun is dying. That is all I'll say about the spoilers here! Very well written. Deeply
First Second Books
Reading this book is the closest I've come to replicating the sensation of dreaming.
Nicholas Kotar
Apr 05, 2016 Nicholas Kotar rated it it was amazing
In the fantasy genre, coming of age tales abound. Commoner becomes emperor stories abound. Nobody becomes great wielder of magic stories also abound. The Book of the New Sun is all of these. But it's also a story told in the first person by a possibly insane former torturer who claims to have perfect recall, but who may have multiple personalities. Oh, and did I mention he is a Christ figure?

I won't even begin to try to summarize the series, though. The back cover jackets do a decent job, but th
Newton Nitro
Sep 28, 2016 Newton Nitro rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Finalmente encarei os cinco livros que formam a elogiada e clássica SAGA DO NOVO SOL, escrita por Gene Wolfe, um escritor americano de fantasia e ficção científica lendário, aclamado por autores como Neil Gaiman, Abercrombie, Michael Moorcock, George R.R. Martin, entre tantos outros. Os cinco livros e suas 1200 páginas estavam na minha lista de leitura à muito tempo, e finalmente eis que chegou a hora! E que saga! Que viagem espetacular!

The Shadow of the Torturer (New Sun
Christy Ford
Nov 13, 2009 Christy Ford rated it did not like it
I read this at the recommendation of a friend, otherwise I probably would not have finished it.

It's a very odd book. The premise is interesting enough, and the writing is actually pretty good as well, if from a bit of an odd perspective.

However, somewhere between those two it falls apart. There is no thrust to it. It feels aimless. Individual scenes are good, but have little to do with the scene before them or after them. There is great detail spent on things that are not relevant to the plot,
Ian Mathers
Aug 13, 2008 Ian Mathers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually have a slightly different edition (hardcover, from the Science Fiction Book Club), but this is the only omnibus of all four volumes I could find on here. I ordered this as one of my six free books or whatever when I joined, because the description sounded neat and it was good value for money; I stumbled upon one of the finest writers, in any genre, North America has produced. Still mysterious, beautiful, profound and terrifying in turn, this series is very much a must-read for you. ...more
Kerrin Shaw
Oct 15, 2012 Kerrin Shaw rated it it was amazing
My favourite book of all. Bar none. This is so far removed from what people think of as fantasy or science fiction that it is almost impossible to describe to someone who is yet to read it. Some of the most finely crafted writing there is. In any genre. Gene Wolfe is one of those authors who some people just don't get, his style can be disjointed temporally and ambiguous descriptively but if it clicks you will be a fan for life.
This is undoubtedly his masterpiece. The Book of the Long Sun and Th
Aug 11, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
I was recommended this by a fellow fantasy fan and wow, I was not disappointed. Definitely one I will re-read and I'm sure enjoy somethign new everytime, a wonderful book.
Aug 08, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing
It's difficult for me to "review" this book because of the profound affect it had on me when I first read it. I will admit to being biased.

I read these books within a year or so after their individual release(s). My personal prelude to this series was LOTR/Sim, Zelanzy, Moorcock, Asimov, Heinlein, Vance, (as a kid I cut my teeth on Lewis, Hobbit, Lieber, Feist, Anthony, etc.) I had read through what many consider as classics of the genre, most of them multiple times. I tell you this because I t
Adam Vine
Jan 04, 2014 Adam Vine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've read "The Book of the New Sun" cover-to-cover three times and every time it becomes richer, deeper, and more enjoyable. It is science fiction, fantasy, literature, and myth all at once. The story is set in far-future Argentina when the sun is dying and follows the confessions of Severian, a disgraced young journeyman who is kicked out of the Guild of Torturers for showing mercy to one of his victims.

At almost 1,000 pages of fine-print text, it is still one of the most engaging reads I have
Jun 29, 2016 Darionanagi rated it it was amazing
Where do I start with this?

This is probably the most intellectually stimulating work of fantasy (or science fantasy, whatever you call it) I've read. Wolfe doesn't pull his punches, he expects his readers to catch all the little hints and references he drops, and then he starts playing around with it to amuse both himself and the reader. This book has its (often humoristic) meta. It has intertextuality. It has an unreliable narrator, approaches science fiction under so many angles, and a puts up
Jan 20, 2016 Joe rated it liked it
It is a mildly interesting retelling of the experiences of an unusual and likable man, but it is also a meandering, directionless story appearing (along the way) to follow no plan and make no point. I suppose this is the issue with fantasy epics: made up stories about made up situations. But surely if you are making everything up, you can try to make a point, eh? I don't know. I'll bet that was the knock on LOTR until people started to get into it. Then they found an interesting world filled ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Stuart rated it it was amazing
Certainly one of the most subtle and complex science-fantasy epics in the genre. The surface story is only one aspect of what the author is after; there are far deeper themes lurking below. And the narrator is far from reliable. One of the few series I've read twice, and the second time round I discovered many new things to appreciate about it. Highly recommended.

Note: I wasn't nearly as pleased with The Urth of the New Sun or the Book of the Long Sun, and haven't read the Book of the Short Sun,
Alejandro Gamen
Jun 30, 2013 Alejandro Gamen rated it really liked it
This book is, as someone else said, at the same time brilliant and infuriating. It seems aimless, especially the latter half of the first book, and the third book in almost its entirety. It is as if the author substitutes character arcs (the motivation to move a story forward) for scenes that are difficult to know if they're nonsensical or allegorical, or both at the same time. Severian does change, but his changes are more evident in his actions than in any speech he makes, and in allegory (the ...more
Was underwhelmed by the overall arc of the plot, and not impressed by the recondite vocabulary. At times this tetraology reads more like grist for the art of retcon.

And yet... and yet. I have in the past adored other books/series with similar flaws-- Gormenghast comes to mind. Like a lens that fitfully comes into focus on a hideous, but on further contemplation, strangely beautiful mishmash of dying protozoans. Several astonishingly clever ideas, too. More than several if you count all the stuff
Aug 17, 2014 Cove rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Although The Book of the New Sun is composed of four volumes, it is in reality the continuation of a single story and I have chosen to evaluate it as such.

More precisely, my rating for this book is 4.5 stars. However, it readily gets bumped to 5 stars on the full-point scale because the story is so epic and original. It really only loses a half star because the pace dragged slightly in a few parts, which is easily forgiven in light of its obvious strengths.

Science fiction being my favorite gen
Miles Johnson
Dec 06, 2014 Miles Johnson rated it really liked it
The ambitions of this book's concepts are by turns mystifying and stupefying. After finishing it for the first time, I'm not sure I'm even qualified to comment. It recalls that modernist chestnut: should art be difficult, after all? For all its savvy manipulations of genre and remarkable turns of phrase, is it an efficient story? BotNS is not difficult to read, but it is severely demanding. It must be reread -- everything about it from its major themes to its dissolute plot demands rereading if ...more
Jay Bhattacharya
Aug 19, 2014 Jay Bhattacharya rated it it was amazing
My high school English teacher once told me that James Joyce took a decade to write Ulysses, and that he expected his readers to spend no less time on it. The Book of the New Sun probably won't take a decade of your life, but it great repays close attention to details, an appreciation of well-crafted sentences, and at least one complete rereading. Most of all, it repays patience with the author, who knows what he is doing, even while the reader has absolutely no idea.
Paul McCann
Nov 28, 2009 Paul McCann rated it it was amazing
Picaresque pseudo-allegorical post-apocalyptic Bildungsroman and a few other things besides. Vance if he took himself seriously; some of the markers of the SF of its time, but owes much (thankfully) to the "humanist fantasy" (the best of Leiber and Saberhagen) of decades earlier.
Claudia Cristina
Mar 31, 2012 Claudia Cristina rated it did not like it
Gosh , Am I the only one to see the emperor naked ?!?! The book makes me queasy and not only mentally but physically, it goes against the grain .One of the few if not the only book I will not finish . I have looked at the 2nd part and it seems to go the same way so I will not open it .
Aug 09, 2015 Ethan rated it it was ok
I just couldn't get through this book. I read 400 pages and just had enough. I know it is heralded as wonderful sciencfiction/fantasy and has won all kinds of awards, but for me it was just too rambling and difficult to follow in any enjoyable way.
Mike Zinn
Nov 06, 2009 Mike Zinn rated it it was amazing
Just great. One of the true classics of any genre. This book still haunts me more than 10 years after I finished it.
Dan Smith
May 22, 2015 Dan Smith rated it it was amazing
Sweet mother of god I don't even know where to start.
Roger Carter
Nov 13, 2016 Roger Carter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished rereading. Now read 3 times. Each time i learn more.
IMHO the most amazing piece of science fiction writing ever. Exceptionally complex, original, full of insightful gems of wisdom... in short, a masterpiece.
Sep 22, 2016 Ty MC rated it liked it
I've never read a book like this. It was both incredibly imaginative and also incredibly vague. What a trip.
Jan 03, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This book is very good. Set in what appears to be a dystopian future that's somewhat cycled back around to a medieval-like society, The Book of the New Sun is actually two shorter books (Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the Conciliator) that follow the adventures of a journeyman of the torturer's guild.

I could give you a plot synopsis, but to be honest, this book is darned dense. That's both a praise and a criticism. Wolfe created a vibrant, breathing world in these novels. There are six in t
Tyler Bumpus
Feb 09, 2016 Tyler Bumpus rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2013 Anthony rated it it was amazing
Best fantasy/sci-fi collection I've ever read. Some disclaimers

1. The language is complex. This book takes attention and effort to read. There is a great deal of subtext and it must be read carefully to completely understand what is happening. I wouldn't recommend it as a quick, easy read.

2. The main character has a very male-focused mind. Women are secondary to his own ego and often fall over him in a an unrealistic fashion. I wouldn't let this detract you from reading the series, but it is so
Kevin Parks
Jun 24, 2016 Kevin Parks rated it it was amazing
I would not have given this book 5 stars after my first reading.

But I kept reading it because the characters, plot, and world kept me curious. There are some very unusual ideas in here, even for a fantasy/science fiction book.

This book will demand your attention, and it will not make complete sense to you, even on subsequent readings. But that is part of the reason I like it so much-- there are always new details and layers to discover.

This book is often listed on the web and other media as a
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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 (The Book of the New Sun #3)
  • The Citadel of the Autarch (The Book of the New Sun #4)
  • The Urth of the New Sun (The Book of the New Sun, #5)

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“And it came to me that these trees had been hardly smaller when I was yet unborn, and had stood as they stood now when I was a child playing among the cypresses and peaceful tombs of our necropolis, and that they would stand yet, drinking in the last light of the dying sun, even as now, when I had been dead as long as those who rested there.” 6 likes
“. . .Consciousness came and went.

Consciousness went and came like the errant winds of spring, and I, who so often have had difficulty in falling asleep among the besieging shades of memory, now fought to stay awake as a child struggles to lift a faltering kite by the string.”
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