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Epiphany of the Long Sun

(The Book of the Long Sun #3-4)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,766 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The two novels combined in this omnibus (Caldé of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun) comprise the second half of Gene Wolfe's long novel, The Book of the Long Sun.

Paperback, 718 pages
Published November 4th 2000 by Orb Books (first published 1996)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Aug 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Be warned: this is a negative review. However, my disappointment is more in the author than in the book itself. It would have rated higher had it come from any other pen but that of Gene Wolfe.

I read this second volume of the Long Sun Cycle immediately after finishing the first. I found it confusing - more so than is usually the case with Wolfe. This is an author who likes to challenge his readers, and confusion, followed by cogitation and re-reading, is an essential part of the Gene Wolfe exper
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
3.5 stars

Well, I definitely enjoyed the Long Sun series much more this time around and was surprised to find that I didn’t even mind _Calde of the Long Sun_ which was the point at which I abandoned ship on my previous re-read attempt of the series. I was probably most surpised by the number of times that things I thought of as opaque mysteries in the series were actually either pretty clearly telegraphed or even explicitly stated in the text (albeit perhaps in passing) which led me to two obviou
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
It can feel long, torturously uneventful, filled with stale dialogue and the underlying plot is a story told many times. But the prying you have to do to get down to the bones of Wolfe's work is something I absolutely love. Underneath the tidy exterior lies a dirty apocalyptic cyberpunk tale filled with cyborgs, hackers, long dead dictators fighting each other for control of a space colony, plenty of ritual sacrifice and reading of entrails. ...more
Feb 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Wow. Not good. Not good at all. The writing decisions that Gene Wolfe makes in this book are baffling. He commits the sin of telling instead of showing, with I'd guess roughly 80% of this thing being taken up by dialogue. And pretty bad dialogue at that. Rather than writing about events that happen, most of the time he just has his characters tell other characters about something that just occurred, an event that we the reader rarely get to actually witness. I guess maybe because it's way easier ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
Whereas Litany of the Long Sun began slowly, with Silk's every move detailed in rich (and, I must admit, occasionally plodding), Wolfean prose, Epiphany of the Long Sun wrapped things up by skipping so much action that it was a bit of a disappointment. Gene Wolfe is not a writer who strives to connect all the dots for his readers, and this is part of what makes his books so good, and well worth rereading. But in this case Wolfe wasn't so much leaving questions unanswered as he was leaving gaps i ...more
Richard S
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Ursula LeGuin: "Our Melville".
Neil Gaiman: "he was the best of us"

Wolfe is a true great and I'm adding him to (early) Pynchon and (most) Gaddis as one of the great American literary writers of the 20th, and possibly the best. His style is unique, impressionistic, subtle, brilliant. I relished every word of these books. He has possibly the largest imagination of any writer I've ever read. Every sentence is a complex mystery of meaning operating on multiple levels. These books are so rich they rea
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, scifi
I honestly don't know how to feel about this book. In some ways it was so compelling and wonderful and in others it is SO BORING. And not, like, at different times. At the same time. I don't even know.

So much of it is pure dialogue, and he is SO TERRIBLE at writing dialogue, so how come I still like it?

I would not recommend this to anyone who has never read any Gene Wolfe. But if you have, and you know you like him, then maybe you can handle it. And think that it's great?

It was seriously either
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Five stars ain't enough. Wolfe is the most brilliant mind in literature. ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book was awful. It took me so long to finish reading this book because I hated it. I kept putting it down, and then it was that much harder to pick back up. I really wanted to finish it because I (mostly) enjoyed The Book of the New Sun. I was committed to finishing, in part because I thought the end would have some degree of satisfying conclusion. It didn't. ("So that was that, go buy the next volume.") Ugh.

There is way too much plodding exposition and explanation of boring details that ad
Sir He-Man
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
This tetralogy didn't grab me nearly as much as Book of the New Sun did. I noticed partway through that nothing in the book actually happened during the narrative - it was composed entirely of people sitting around after the fact and discussing it. But not in a narratively interestingly way; just a whole lot of scenes of people sitting in parlors and on benches, talking about the exciting things that had just happened. Also, fewer of the mysteries were left to mystery, and more of them were hamf ...more
Fantasy Literature
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
EPIPHANY OF THE LONG SUN is an omnibus that combines Caldé of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun.

A smooth speaker, naturally athletic, and an intuitive and inventive tactician, Silk may well prove to be the greatest Caldé that Viron has ever had. He even has impeccable manners. Even authors of fantasy, a genre that has created many near-perfect savior figures, run a risk when they make their heroes too good. Fortunately, Gene Wolfe’s defense against this charge is more in-depth than the t
Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
My first update (posted after completing the first book in this collection) described the writing as "oblique", which might be the defining characteristic of this series as it progresses. Characters show up as multiple versions of themselves; events begin to unfold without our witnessing them, only to be recounted in conversation pages later (very Faulknerian); and then the narration shifts perspective, demanding a reexamination of countless earlier scenes. This is not easy reading, and its hard ...more
May 28, 2009 rated it liked it
I've read the whole series now, and it's surprisingly entertaining - page-turning and a nice exercise in world-building. It is more than a little disappointing, however, that every major female character is (literally) either a nun or a whore. Wolfe actually devotes some time to developing at least a few of them into fully-rounded people, but still: nuns and whores. Sigh. ...more
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
a complete reread of the Long Sun which is even more satisfying than on first read; while I have read (again and again) parts of these four books on and off across the years, I never reread the Short Sun books so far and I have only vague reminiscences
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always feel like I'll never be able to quite put my finger on whatever it is that makes Gene Wolfe so wonderful. There's a whole host of things that are obviously good about this series, but, like his better known Book of the New Sun series, there simply a vast and pulsing sense of significance which reverberates through it, something that seems to transcend plot, style, technique, characterization, and so on. Wolfe fans will know what I mean. The Book of the New Sun may be a better exemplar, ...more
Evan Moore
Apr 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
At the beginning of this series, I had convinced myself this would be an easier read than The New Sun tetrology. Mr. Wolfe had me going for a hot minute. It was in these two books that the overwhelming plot obsfucation tactics went into full effect; It's quite apparant this will require even more readings! And once again I have to ask myself: who is the protagonist's mother?

This isn't something you recommend to others unless that other is a strange person. The kind of person that relishes Rube G
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It's astonishing just how many storytelling risks Wolfe takes with the final volume of the Long Sun series. There's a sense of gleeful perversity to some of the tricks he pulls – like the slowly dawning realisation that is built up in the 'I'm Auk' chapter, or when Silk insists that the reason for his suicidal thoughts is obvious when it's clearly not. The final revelation (view spoiler) is unique and brings the themes of the series closer to the precedi ...more
Matthew Porter
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Decent SF. Mr. Wolfe deserves credit for an imaginative depiction of a science fiction world, and is deft with his character creation. The story unfolds very gradually, and though i marvel - the pace of the storytelling was killing me. More action at last unfolds in this secon collected volume.
Brian Denten
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
A long boring slog of a book; a huge disappointment compared to the first half of the series and other work by Wolfe.
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
(posting full review at a later date)
Chris Flower
Apr 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Again with Wolfe, the payoffs hit hard after such a long read. Everything comes together much more clearly in Long Sun than in New Sun. I'm partial to New Sun, but Long is still really enjoyable. ...more
Adam Vine
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Going to be speaking in a lot of generalities in this review, since I don't want to spoil too much for those who haven't read it.

Here we go.

Hell yeah. I was hoping Book of the Long Sun would be a worthy follow up to Book of the New Sun. Was not disappointed.

Let's get the obvious out of the way - BOTNS is my favorite work of science fiction or fantasy of all time, even above Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, or Solaris, and this sort-of sequel series is not at all on the same level as i
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I've been trying to figure out what to say about this for over a month since I finished it. It was good but it didn't seem to live up to what I felt was the promise of the first two parts of the book. The best way I can think of to say it is that it felt like Wolfe told a story that was nearby a different story that I would much rather have had him tell, probably involving the same main character in the same world. ...more
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
The last half of the Book of the Long Sun was as good as the first. The characterization continued to be excellent, and I particularly enjoyed watching Maytera Mint and Quetzal’s characters as they grew, not to mention Silk himself. I also enjoyed Wolfe’s exploration of religion, specifically Catholicism and pagan gods, and the idea of a truly righteous character living in a realistic world. The themes of good and evil were presented quite originally, not as outside forces but as embodied in us ...more
Andrew Couzens
Nov 29, 2016 rated it liked it
As the second half of the epic saga The Book of the Long Sun, which is itself a part of the even-more-epic Sun Saga, I went into this book expecting great things. The first half laid the groundwork for a resonant and complex mystery, multiple narrative strands and contradictions to be solved. The Book of the New Sun, which I read earlier, does a fantastic job of creating narrative meaning out of these contradictions and absences, these mysteries. Here, however, it often feels as though the puzzl ...more
John Lawson
Jun 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Gene Wolfe is a consistently good writer, but this series is oddly rambling. The narrative is constantly being broken by pointless tangents and conversations, as characters get together to dissect/discuss/debate the previous action in minute detail, nearly to a Socratic degree. In a junior author, this is usually evidence that they feel the storyline is too complex and need these interludes to help the reader "catch up," but Wolfe is sufficiently seasoned that I assume this exposition was intent ...more
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The final two books of Gene Wolfe's expansive Book of the Long Sun series, these works round off the tale of Patera Silk and the colorful inhabitants of Viron in a most satisfying fashion. Wolfe's episodic and elliptical approach to the narrative becomes more pronounced as the narrative nears its end, even as the reason for that approach becomes clearer. These works nicely draw together both the narrative and thematic threads that Wolfe has developed throughout the series. In particular, I was s ...more
Dec 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf
I really, really disliked the ending of this. Fascinating world, fascinating concept, but the last half (fourth book of the series) dropped his "covering every day in minute detail" approach, and started jumping around... skipping over all the action and leaving me largely confused and lost. I understand that approach being used when you're in the middle of something intense or sudden, but... really, I don't know how to accurately describe how utterly lost, confused and sad I felt as I finished ...more
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Gene Wolfe was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He was 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 was 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 f

Other books in the series

The Book of the Long Sun (4 books)
  • Nightside the Long Sun (The Book of the Long Sun #1)
  • 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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