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Lexicon Urthus: A Dictionary for the Urth Cycle
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Lexicon Urthus: A Dictionary for the Urth Cycle

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  377 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Lexicon Urthus is an alphabetical dictionary for the complete Urth Cycle by Gene Wolfe: The Shadow of the Torturer; The Claw of the Conciliator; The Sword of the Lictor; The Citadel of the Autarch; the sequel Urth of the New Sun; the novella Empires of Foliage and Flower; the short stories "The Cat," "The Map," and "The Old Woman Whose Rolling Pin Is the Sun"; and Gene Wol ...more
Paperback, 440 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Sirius Fiction (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Paul H.
In a sense it's hard to believe that a reference work could be 5/5 stars, but the Lexicon functions almost as a companion novel to the Urth cycle and uncovers so much depth that it needs to be treated as a sixth entry in the series. Not only did Andre-Driussi track down every OED entry used by Wolfe, he pieces together many of the maddening and confusing bits of Wolfe's plotting/concepts into a coherent whole, retroactively improving the Urth novels themselves, in a curious way. I had a 'eureka' ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an excellent, and I would even say necessary, resource for anyone approaching Gene Wolfe’s New Sun series. That being said I would strongly caution the first-time reader from using it as anything more than a dictionary for obscure words (of which there are a plethora in the series) as many of Andre-Driussi’s more fulsome entries (especially on characters and places) head deep into spoiler territory that would ruin many of the surprises on an initial read and what would a Gene Wolfe book ...more
Apr 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I am giving it 5 stars simply because it serves its purpose fantastically ... being a dictionary for BOTNS. I have not read every entry heck I haven't even read Urth of the New Sun. That said be really careful using this as yeah obviously not spoiler-free most safe for rereads but I did use it in my first read just fine. But again use it sparely and well entries you don't think you will get spoiled. ...more
Yórgos St.
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Essential if you want to have a better understanding of The Book of the New Sun.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For those of you who are about to tackle Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun (including the coda, The Urth of the New Sun), Michael Andre-Driussi's Lexicon Urthus is a highly recommended companion resource.

And why is that? Wolfe, in an effort to be faithful to the series' setting so far in the future of Earth that our history has been long forgotten, employs arcane words to describe people, objects, places and concepts, thus lending them an "otherness" that adds to and supports setting. But beware:
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LEXICON URTHUS is a dictionary prepared by Michael Andre-Driussi of the unusual words and names used by Gene Wolfe in his four-volume masterpiece The Book of the New Sun (and its coda THE URTH OF THE NEW SUN). Originally published in 1994, it swiftly went out of print and used copies went for high prices. The publication of its second edition is to be heralded.

Those who have read Wolfe's work know that he usually allows many of his archaic terms to be defined for the reader through context, but
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gene Wolfe elevates the sensations of wonder, mystery, and discovery that we associate with science fiction into the realms of aesthetic and religious awe. He reaches back in time to take hold of the the thread of myth, traces this thread through the weave of history and literature, draws it forward into the unimaginable future, and then he ties the two ends together in an infinite loop.

I am profoundly grateful for Lexicon Urthus, a book that is clearly a product of extraordinary time and effort
Robert Defrank
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit, I couldn't get through Gene Wolfe's New Sun books the first time I tried. Now on my second attempt, I'm keeping this volume close at hand (figuratively speaking, since it's in digital format).

On the positive side, it's got a lot of invaluable background stuff such as definitions of obscure words, historical context and connotations of names, and explanations of the themes of the book. On the negative side, the digital version was the cheapest I could find and I would have preferred a ph
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second edition of the Lexicon Urthus and contains new entries as well as all corrections. The first edition from 1994 sold out quickly.

This is an amazing book and the result of careful study of the Book of the New Sun (available for instance in the two omnibus editions Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel). I guess it's possible to figure out many of these things on his own, but if you do not have the time or the resources to check the various references, this book is for you. Afte
Alex Barrow
A necessary and helpful companion to the Book Of The New Sun series, without which the latter would have made even less sense to me, scattered as it is with a great many made-up words and inadequately explored history and mythology.
James Balasalle
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Almost required reading for the Urth Cycle. I used this when re-reading Shadow & Claw, and it upped the enjoyment factor by several orders of magnitude. Highly recommended.
Michael Tkach
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a dictionary, thrilling! ...more
Michael Frasca
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having the Lexicon Urthus at hand makes reading The Book of the New Sun much more enjoyable.

Suggestions for use:

- To avoid spoilers, Do NOT look up major characters, cities, history, plot synopses, etc.
- DO look up the names of arms, armor, animals, plants, units of measure, etc.
Lisandro Nieva
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A large and detailled glossary of terms, characters and concepts of the Urth Cycle. Inspiring, but I wished for more theories and possible explanations. TV Tropes and GoT forums may have been spoiled me.
Aaron Grossman
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pretty much the definitive encyclopedia. Probably necessary reading to understand anything going on in these books unless you're going to reread 3-4 times or scour the internet for hours like I do naturally. ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super helpful, but only if you've read / are reading Gene Wolfe's magnum opus The Book of the New Sun. ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Absolutely must-have for any fan of The Book of the New Sun. I have gone back to this book again and again over the last twenty years.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a necessary companion to Book of the New Sun. I recommend using it on a second reading after an initial blind read through.
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Honestly I was worried about being spoonfed on the details but there's so many that I'll no doubt forget and later rediscover when I read the series again. The commentators knew their homework. ...more
Jan 08, 2022 rated it really liked it
A wonderful guide.
Mar 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-kindle
A great reference book for Wolfe's Books of the New Sun ...more
May 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a valuable resource while reading the Book of the New Sun. This book not only aided in the understanding of the archaic terms in the book but also in gaining a fuller insight in to characters as well as places. I would recommend this book especially for a second read through to really appreciate the treasure that Book of the New Sun is and poke around this massive story for the hidden gems that the author so painstakingly articulated in all five books that make up the Book of ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myscifi, fiction-pop
So, a book that serves as a guide to some trilogy or series always seems like a dicey concept. I have to say, though that they've been great reads in a couple cases (Dune Encyclopedia, Lexicon Urthus) -- a couple now that I've gotten a hold of this book. Lexicon Urthus does exactly what you need it to do, reading Wolfe's sprawling trilogy-- explain the concepts, the language, and their references.I don't become obsessive about the setting of every series I like, but if for whatever reason you re ...more
Aaron Singleton
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, gene-wolfe
While this book is a reference volume concerned with Gene Wolfe's tetralogy The Book of the New Sun, it's damn near as entertaining as the books it references. Andre-Driussi has done an admirable job compiling and researching the details of Wolfe's masterpiece. It contains detailed definitions for the many archaic and unusual words used in the New Sun books as well as maps, character sketches, character and place name origins, and much more. Just opening this book to a random page recreates the ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I originally read Wolfe's Book of the New Sun tetralogy in the mid eighties, shortly after they were written. I treated myself to re-reading them in early 2009, and was just as agog at how good they were now as I was over twenty years ago. In re-reading them now, the Lexicon Urthus has been an invaluable companion that only deepens the experience ...more
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great dictionary for the Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe; don't read it if you don't want a lot of the more subtle things in that great series spoiled for you! ...more
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a collector's item, meaningful only to fanatical readers of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. For those readers, it's an amazing resource. ...more
Adam Morgan
Mar 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, nonfic
Must-have for Gene Wolfe fans. Just don't spoil yourself. ...more
Mark Teppo
A must if you hope to catch all of Wolfe's clever symbolism. ...more
Vasa Curcin
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Meticulous dissection of Wolfe's Book of the New Sun that doubles up as the dictionary of numerous archaic and obscure terms that Wolfe employs. Essential reading for any Wolfe fan. ...more
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