Sunday, 28 February 2010

"The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe

This massive novel told in four volumes is set in Earth's far future. The Sun is dying and mankind has reverted to a pre-technological feudal existence. Yet traces of a star faring past still abound.

The main protagonist is a wandering torturer who earns his keep by performing mutilations and executions in the towns he passes through.

This is a weighty story that has been hailed as a masterpiece but I found it hard enough going. The main character is utterly selfish and devoid of compassion and the writing style is very confusing at times. Things improved a lot in the third and fourth volumes when Wolfe finally starts to reveal what's really going on. All the confusing bits from earlier turn out to have a purpose but then the author turns around and wraps everything up with a massive self proclaimed Deus ex machina.

This is a deep and complex novel that could probably benefit from a second reading but I not so sure I Could be bothered.

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