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Cover art forShadow & Claw

Shadow & Claw

Gene Wolfe

Started Reading
Dec 31, 2022
Finished Reading
Jan 15, 2023

This collects the first two volumes of The Book of the New Sun, The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator. A few friends (thanks, Graham and Sam) brought them up as a reference for Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series (Palmer writes the introduction to the Shadow & Claw edition that I have), as well as Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb books, so I felt it was time to dive in.

The story introduces us to Severian, a young member of the Guild of Torturers who (due to a transgression) ends up getting sent away to a faraway post, thus kicking off his adventures. It’s a pretty dense mix of Christian mythology, hints of interplanetary/multi-dimensional travel, and magic. There’s mysterious guilds, a war raging in the background, and an Autarch who is invoked in worshipful tones but is rarely seen. Even though it was published in the 80s it doesn’t read as dated, and I’m excited to read the final two volumes.