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The Urth of the New Sun

(The Book of the New Sun #5)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  5,734 ratings  ·  299 reviews
The long awaited sequel to Gene Wolfe’s four-volume classic, The Book of the New Sun. We return to the world of Severian, now the Autarch of Urth, as he leaves the planet on one of the huge spaceships of the alien Hierodules to travel across time and space to face his greatest test, to become the legendary New Sun or die. The strange, rich, original spaceship scenes give w ...more
Paperback, 372 pages
Published November 15th 1997 by Orb Books (first published 1987)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
I knew things were going to get interesting the moment we started the book on the spaceship "Yesod", the ninth branch on the tree of life directly above the root, the kingdom, in the Kabbalah. Yesod is the ship that is outside of time and Maya, and the source of the Sun's renewal and the place where Sevarian must make or break his new covenant, the place of the new foundation for humanity.

Nuts? Hell yeah. There's plenty of crazy going on in the whole series, but the fact we start moving up throu
David Katzman
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review is for all five books in the “New Sun” tetralogy.

What a peculiar series. Bizarre and compelling yet also distant and alien. The language is poetic while the tone tends toward melancholy. As if, perhaps, Edgar Allen Poe had written long-form science fiction novels.

The New Sun series, is not for those who demand their fantasy or science fiction served on a platter, spoon fed. Wolfe has written a story that is ambiguous, mysterious and falls in an undefinable land between myth, fantasy
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Well, I've given Gene Wolfe a fair shot.

This is the fifth volume of (and really more of a coda to) his mammoth opus, The Book of the New Sun - the story of Severian; torturer, soldier, ruler, prophet and savior of his planet. While critics and fans alike rave about his experimental brand of narration, I found this particular installment annoyingly hallucinogenic. Here's the guy on the couch in college, 2 AM, stoned out of his mind, Jedi death-grip on your forearm: "Dude, you gotta hear this. Jus
Vit Babenco
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There the stars swarmed still, but it seemed to me they formed a great disk in the sky, and when I looked at the edges of that disk, I saw they were streaked and old. Since that time I have often pondered on that sight, here beside the all-devouring sea. It is said that so great a thing is the universe that no one can see it as it is, but only as it was…”
The Urth of the New Sun begins as a space opera – a turbulent journey along the corridors of space and time…
Then the monstrous spaceship arri
Michael Fierce
Apr 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who continue to read a series & just don't know when to stop. Like me.
If you enjoyed Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun series which includes, The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, and The Citadel of the Autarch, DON'T EVER READ THIS!!!!!

This is supposed to be the 5th book in the series, written much later, and I don't know what on Earth Gene was thinking!?!?!? This book has nearly NOTHING to do with the rest of the series and I've determined he must've been smoking some bad shi+ to come up with this horrible idea of
Paul  Perry
This is my second read of this, often referred to as a coda to Wolfe's Book of the New Sun rather than a true fifth volume, and I enjoyed it far more this time. I still think that it isn't quite up to the same level of magnificence as those books, but it is a different creature and great in its own right.

This tale follows Severian - again through his own journals - after he has become the Autarch, the ruler of the empire and (possibly) the rightful although not actual ruler of a fractured planet
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
4 – 4.5 stars

The final segment of the New Sun series, whether you consider it a somewhat separate coda to the main four books or simply volume five of Severian’s story, is a satisfying conclusion to all that has led up to it and trust me when I say that for Wolfe that is a surprising turn of events. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of mysteries and unanswered questions remain, but there is a sense of completion and clarity that is often not apparent in Wolfe’s work. I actually found, on this re-read a
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
OK, there is a TON that I still do not understand (not that Wolfe did not try to explain it, but it would take me some time studying it to figure it all out), but I loved the ending (view spoiler). I was also happy to revisit people from Severian's past and get caught up on what happened between the time he was Autarch and the time he left on his journey. ...more
Nutshell: liar writes shruggable intergalactic/transtemporal there-and-back-again.

Beyond proficient at the sentence level, with many slick turns of phrase and cool observations. At the level of discourse, though, it's kinda hard to see the point. Might benefit from a reading of The Book of the New Sun immediately prior, though.

Love how Severian at one point addresses the reader: "I will leave it to you to explain these things" (167). Okay then!

Seems that this new sun business destroyed the world
J.M. Hushour
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fine ending to this most wonderful series, but it does lack some of the gritty polish and bemusing weirdness of its four predecessors. Perhaps it is just familiarity with the world of Severian the Torturer that makes this one a little less insane, and a good portion of the book is taken up by crazy battles on a time-bending spaceship, a literal galleon with a thousand sails whisking our "hero" to the universe Yesod to find the New Sun. None of that will mean anything to you if you have ...more
Nick Tramdack
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Declan wished to know how Urth would fare when the New Sun came; and I, understanding little more than he did himself, drew upon Dr. Talos's play, never thinking that in a time yet to come Dr. Talos's play would be drawn from my words."

A hall of mirrors, a recognition over immense gulfs of time and space, a hero's journey that's perpetually refreshes and corrects itself and encounters its own traces. "I am not the first Severian," our hero said in The Citadel of the Autarch; it takes Wolfe full
The Final Song ❀
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Why even read anymore.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 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 ch
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This might have gotten 5 stars had I read it right after the other four volumes of the series - this book frequently hearkens back to events in earlier books, and I didn't always remember them. This is partly because the books are JAM PACKED with events and characters, and partly because of Wolfe's writing style.

About that style: some authors telegraph "watch carefully! important stuff coming up!" and their work is pretty easy to skim as a result. Wolfe does the exact opposite, deliberately obf
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
The Urth of the New Sun is considered--even by the author--to be a coda to the Book of the New Sun tetralogy, rather than a full-fledged fifth book of the series. I suppose this is because it differs considerably in tone from the four books that make up the Book. As the author tells it, he hadn't planned to write this fifth book until his publisher insisted, based on the assumption that Wolfe's readers would want to know how Severian's quest to bring the New Sun back to Urth went.

Though many asp
This was the last book in the series The Book of the New Sun. For the most part, I really liked it, and I might even have rated it higher than the four stars I’ve consistently given the other books in this series. However, I thought it went off the rails a bit toward the end.

It gave me the answers I was looking for in terms of what happened after the end of the fourth book, and I enjoyed the story it told. Then, without giving anything away, it shed new light on many of the events from those fir
Dec 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this without having read The Book of the New Sun is likely to result in confusion. Reading this without having read The Book of the New Sun very recently ain't much better. Urth is tightly tied to characters and events of the previous four volumes and provides no handholding for those who haven't read them. (For me, it has been a decade.) This is not an "obvious" coda: according to this discussion Urth exists mainly to keep a Polyanna epilogue out of Book of the New Sun. So it would be e ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
In this follow-up to the Book of the New Sun, Severian, the Autarch of the Commonwealth of Urth, journeys deep into space. His goal is to acquire the New Sun, a star/energy source/person (or perhaps all of these), which is capable of replacing his planet's dying sun. While his success will ensure the survival of his planet, it carries with it a terrible price.

Much like the preceding four volumes that comprise The Book of the New Sun, I enjoyed this book but I do not feel like I entirely comprehe
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Depending on who you ask, this is either the fourth or the fifth volume in the author’s acclaimed Book of the New Sun series. The blurb on this website has it as the former, but Wikipedia seems to think that there was at least a tetralogy before this one, which acts as a sort of coda. The others are still in print together whereas this one was a little harder to find. I found this edition in a bookshop while on holiday in Canada — outside of the canonical standards, it’s unusual to stumble acros ...more
Chris Gager
I've been a sci-fi reader since the late fifties(Jr. H.S.) and while I wouldn't exactly call myself an aficionado, I have read a lot of sci-fi. But ... I don't recall ever reading any of Gene Wolfe's books. Perhaps a short story or two in anthologies. Maybe he'll be my new Jack Vance/Cordwainer Smith/James Schmitz/Fred Saberhagen discovery. Excellent! The book's off to a great start with a stunning, thrilling and heart-stopping little excursion out in the rigging of a giant sail-type(Cordwainer ...more
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you felt that many things were left unexplained in the previous 4 books "Urth Of The New Sun" will definitely explain them all but on the other hand it will introduce many more puzzles. Anyway if you reached this far by reading and loving the first four books perhaps you already knew it as a possibility.

Here, Gene Wolfe tells the tale of now autarch Severian who takes the travel to undergo his ultimate test on Yesod, and while it is a not fictional mythology book as is Tolkien's "The Silmari
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Well, here it is: the conclusion to the wonderful, tragically underrated New Sun series by Mr. Wolfe. This book came out a few years after the previous one, and serves as a sort of capper to the whole thing- kind of anyways. It also works, a bit, as a stand alone tale. You don't have to read the other four to enjoy this one, but it helps, because the book is batshit insane at parts, and is one of the most dense bits of literature I have ever read.

It takes the wacky, obscure, completely otherworl
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I feel inclined to give this book a lower rating because I found it to be so much weaker than the rest of the New Sun series (and however much people describe it as a 'coda' or 'not really a sequel,' it really is a direct sequel), but I don't really think that would be fair—it's still much better than a lot of the science fiction out there. That's the thing, though: where the other books in the New Sun cycle weren't so heavy on the S part of SF, this book is more heavily sciencey science fiction ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This has to be one of the most original and complex stories I’ve ever heard (read). I have no clue how anyone could walk away reading just the first four books. Urth of the New Sun did shine light on many, many questions that remained after the fourth book though I still had to read the synopsis and look up a few things in the Lexicon Urthus when I was done with Urth of the New Sun to truly get closure. The inspiration from Wolfe’s faith goes all out in this book compared to the first four, but ...more
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1980s, sff, 20th-century
Using this space for some second-time-around notes.

1. It's appropriate that the epigraph is taken from a translation that is known to be a distortion of the original, and credited to the translator alone (FitzGerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam).

2. And a verse from the same poem:
I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

3. Gunnie swears by the Danaides, one of whom was named Scy
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
A companion piece to The Book of the New Sun, set in a giant generation-spanning spaceship, this book is equally mysterious and fascinating. Not quite as easy to understand and absorb, but certainly a worthy read. Not sure how well it works as a stand-alone novel, though.
Dalibor Dado Ivanovic
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: knjige
just finished the fifth book and i'm fascinating. i can hardly wait to reread this series. oh my God or should i say oh my Severian. gonna miss you in my wonderworld...untill ...more
I felt that some parts of this book were a delight to read and others a nightmare. My advice is to keep to the first 4 original books of the series.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
All things must end, unfortunately.

The Urth of the New Sun explains a lot of earlier mysteries and brings the series to a far more satisfying conclusion. The series as a whole easily stands as one of the truly great ones, though maybe for quite different reasons than most.
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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 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)

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