Tobias Langhoff's Reviews > The Urth of the New Sun

The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read August 30, 2019 to December 13, 2019.

** spoiler alert ** This book is called a "coda" to the first four parts of The Book of the New Sun. That's true enough. As Wolfe said of the ending of the fourth one in The Castle of the Otter/Castle of Days:
I had an argument with David Hartwell over this last bit. David felt that I should add one more paragraph saying, Okay, Severian went to the universe next door and borrowed the white hole and fixed the sun and everybody lived happily every after.

Of course Wolfe got his wish, ended the fourth book as he wanted, and expanded that paragraph into this book. Wolfe might consider that small part just a coda or an epilogue, but it feels like the satisfying ending to the series we all deserve.

In the book The Shadow of the Torturer, Severian was a torturer; in The Sword of the Lictor he was a lictor; in The Citadel of the Autarch he of course becomes Autarch. In The Claw of the Conciliator, he wasn't exactly the Conciliator, but in a sense he was the second coming of him (this subplot, like so much else, is explained in this fifth book). The title of this book obviously continues this theme: Here in The Urth of the New Sun, he becomes and brings the New Sun.

That's just the first half or so of this book, though. The second half explains so many of the mysteries and myths from the first four books. Wolfe might have considered The Book of the New Sun self-contained, but there's a lot in the second half here that I never understood on my first read, at least. And many of the things that seemed completely inscrutable in the tetralogy have a perfect (in-universe) logical explanation, and that explanation is in many cases found here in this book.
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Reading Progress

May 5, 2017 – Shelved
May 5, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
May 27, 2017 – Started Reading
May 28, 2017 –
May 31, 2017 –
June 9, 2017 –
June 13, 2017 –
July 1, 2017 –
66.0% "Severian is so much more explicitly Messianic in this book"
July 1, 2017 –
75.0% "This book explains so many of the mysteries and myths from the first four. I don't understand how Wolfe considered The Book of the New Sun self-contained, this coda is indispensable."
July 3, 2017 –
July 3, 2017 – Finished Reading
August 30, 2019 – Started Reading
December 13, 2019 – Finished Reading

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