To say that Gene Wolfe is a difficult author is both a compliment and a knock. In Shadow of the Torturer, the first in a four book series known as The Book of the. It is possible I already had some presentiment of my future. The locked and rusted gate that stood before us, with wisps of river fog threading its spikes like the. Overview: The book opens with the protagonist, Severian, barely surviving a swim in the River Gyoll. Severian is an apprentice in the torturers’.

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You can rarely trust the popular market to single out good authors, but you’d think wokfe might be safe to listen to the opinions of other writers especially an assemblage of Nebula and Hugo winners in their own right.

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

The client is his challenger, Agia’s brother, whom he executes. Learn more about Amazon Prime.

As befitting a torturer, Severian is strongly ambiguous morally, capable of both deep affection and lust but also uncaring with regards to violence. The executions I have seen performed and have performed myself so often are no more than a trade, a butchery of human beings who are for the most part less innocent and less valuable than cattle.

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolf

I love my magic reading box! Will Vodalus the rebel ever come back to challenge the Autarch?

However, it was selected as a club read so I decided to give it a try. I have very strong memories of this book. Previous Post A little recap: The young torturer expects to be killed for his crime; instead he is exiled from the city to serve as a simple executioner in distant Thrax ,the City of Windowless Rooms.


I would not, if pressed by someone making the point, tend to class Wolfe with the great world-building authors like Tolkien, Herbert, and Tappan-Wright. It feels like the entire world is populated by about fifteen people who follow the narrator around wherever he goes.

We are learning about the torturers’ guild and the world beyond their doors through the eyes of apprentice torturer, Severian. This is a heinous crime for a member of the Guild, so Severian, after readily confessing to his masters, is banished from the Citadel in disgrace and ordered to a small rural outpost where he will be Carnifex and guild representative, a thankless task since he is likely to be hated by everyone. Hiding from his emotions, denying I can definitely see why.

Wolfe’s fanciful narrative and style create a remarquable and sophisticated setting that reads like a riddle. Shadow of the Torturer has that in spades.

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolf book review

Instead of using the writing style to enhance the storyline and plot, I truly feel like the style took over the story itself, so much so that the enjoyment was somewhat sucked out of it and replaced with irritation and aggravation. It kept me reading and I gen glad to have read it, but on the other hand I never found myself emotionally engaged and wasn’t convinced by any of Severian’s attachments to the women he encounters. View all 22 comments. Frankly, I don’t give much of a wplfe.


You are commenting using your Facebook account. Let’s ignore the fact that human life would probably have long exp I’m really drawn to decadent, crumbling civilisations in literature, especially those of shadod far distant future.

Page last modified on February 19,at He is by no means an easy author to read. It traces the tale of Severian, an orphan, apprenticed torturer, an intriguing and yet poignant beginning. Thanks, John, for the suggestion! Severian refuses to sell the sword, shortly after which a masked and armoured hipparch enters the shop and challenges Severian tortueer a duel.

There were interesting ideas and moments in the book, and I did appreciate what originality Wolfe did have, but I found it strange that such a different mind would produce such hidebound prose, tired descriptions, convenient plots, and unappealing characters. I imagined something that might evoke Peake or Leiber at his bestperhaps with a complexity and depth gesturing toward Milton or Ariosto.

The Shadow of the Torturer

On his way back to the Citadel Severian and several other apprentices sneak into a necropolis where Severian first encounters Vodalus, the legendary revolutionary. Few live up to their reputation, but most at least deliver part of the promise. The Shadow of the Torturer is like a Preraphaelite canvas — the ancient perishing world, painted in unbelievably vivid colours, is washed in the sanguine rays of a long fatal sundown.