I have a problem with all Wolfe's books I have read so far: they make me feel dumb. This can be attributed to two, maybe three things. (1) Wolfe meticu...moreI have a problem with all Wolfe's books I have read so far: they make me feel dumb. This can be attributed to two, maybe three things. (1) Wolfe meticulously crafts his stories so that they tread beyond normal "...and then this happened, then this and then this!" narratives. That is to say, this is exactly what he does in the Book of the New Sun, but in such a fashion that I rarely have a moment to breathe in between passages. Everything flows to and fro, which makes this a very exhausting and challenging read. (2) What is true? Wolfe's use of unreliable narration has been discussed to much extent, so I dare not even try to begin to describe it here. Suffice it to say that the Urth of the New Sun gives (unreliable?) answers to questions raised in the previous novels, but that it also raises just as many if not more. (3) I am stupid and not worthy of understanding.
So, what do we actually have here? This so-called coda to the Book of the New Sun fluently continues Severian's quest, be it with a switch from the fantasy with subtle sci-fi nuances here and there in its predecessors to the inverse of this. Abandoned civilisations? Check, but these happen to live on a spaceship. Weird creatures? Check, but they are not what they seem. Weird people? Check, but they are also not who they seem. A really weird finale? Check. Well, actually, double-check, because I could not quite wrap my head around it at first. This is something typical of this series, I now finally understand, having read all five novels: your internal gears should remain active long after having finished one of them. There is much to be discovered as not all is disclosed—which is exactly what this kind of fiction is about. At least, to me it is.(less)
Ka is a wheel. While I thought the series has somewhat more downs than ups, I was determined to finish it anyway. So I did. King is good at creating se...moreKa is a wheel. While I thought the series has somewhat more downs than ups, I was determined to finish it anyway. So I did. King is good at creating settings, atmosphere, but, as was the case in the previous Dark Tower novels, not so good at delivering. Particularly the clash between Roland and the antagonist at the base of the Dark Tower was disappointing. Other parts of the story seemed to stroll around a bit, as if King himself did not really know where the red line was hidden. The Dark Tower has the only ending that was possible -- a very typical one, for that matter, which reminded me of Delaney's Dhalgren in a way. The reason I give this novel 4/5 stems from the fact that I felt sorry the story had to end. Over the course of about five years I read this heptalogy, obviously with quite some intervals, but still I felt connected to the characters. Additionally, the ending gave me shivers. It seems that King can deliver after all.(less)