The Citadel of the Autarch is the final book of the New Sun quartet, and it makes for an unusual and interesting ending to the story, not that it is, wholly, complete when Severian the Lame, Autarch of the Commonwealth, lays down his pen — twice — to go on with his life. As with the other books, an indefinite period of time has passed since the previous volume, but the impression created here is that this has been considerable less than the two previous lacunae, and there is no similar dislocation as before: Severian closes The Sword of the Lictor by heading off north to join in the War against the Ascians, and he begins Citadel still set on that course. The final book is a curiously slow and quiet story, with the majority of its action, such as there is of it, concentrated into the middle of the book. Severian begins on the road, still trying to make up his mind, and avoiding parties of soldiers so as not to have that decision taken out of his hands.

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Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Volume Four of the Book of the New Sun. Severian the Torturer continues his epic journey across the lands of Urth, a journey as fraught with peril as it is with wonder.

Exiled from his guild he is an outcast, but his travels are woven with strange portents. The Claw of the Conciliator, relic of a prophet and promise of a new age, flames to life in his hands. He carries the great sword Terminus Est, the Line of Division.

The dwellers in the deep waters offer him a kingdom under the seas. And he is hunted and driven by terrors from beyond Urth. Now all his travels move him inexorably toward a grander fate, a destiny that he dare not refuse. For a devouring blackness gnaws at the heart of the Old Sun, and the fate of Urth rests in the return of the Conciliator, the New Sun long foretold.

Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published November 1st by Timescape Books first published January More Details Original Title. Severian , Thecla. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Citadel of the Autarch , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Citadel of the Autarch. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.

Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. I am not yet certain I even like these books, let alone how to think about them. What about the novel? What of a whole series of novels? The novel requires of its author an alternation of stasis and dynamism, a balance that—at least in the greatest examples of narrative art—suggests at once a great edifice and a superb symphony.

Although I am sure counter-examples may be found, The Book of the New Sun , in a larger sense, does not achieve this balance. Magnificent in its solidity, like a great Gothic cathedral, it is frozen nevertheless. Its characters are a series of gargoyles perched on finials; its metaphysical framework is a cyclopean roof which only appears to be soaring, a roof of great weight that would smash to earth if not buttressed by expert craftsmanship.

And the music of The Book of the New Sun? It is there, undeniably, but for me remains frozen; it is mute, like a score unplayed. View all 5 comments. Mar 26, Bradley rated it really liked it Shelves: worldbuilding-sf , shelf , sci-fi. And now I know. It's pretty awesome, but not quite up to the level of mindfuqery that I was prepared to expect based on all the multiple time-travel and memory-cannibalisms that we've been subjected to.

I mean, it's been four whole novels of what appeared to be straightforward adventure before it got super weird, and I'm not even including the humaniform robots, the dying of the sun, the idea-form aliens, living gods or locations jettisoned out of the time-stream.

As if those weren't quite enough, right? Still, one has to be impressed by the almost Dune-like scope near the end, the complete and utter laying out of reveals, the expected solution for the sun, and of course, Severian's Fate. And those inside him, of course. It won't be as frustrating. Ignore Serverain's epilogue and stick with the tale.

And by all means, have faith that it comes together in the end, because it does. It's good, it's very literary in both the regular mainstream and classics as well as the SF field, but it's not quite the grand masterpiece I was led to believe it was. Being able to incorporate so many other works inside a single adventure, however impressive, technically, is not the same thing as being a wild and fun read. Those were all pretty well brilliant and fun as hell.

View 2 comments. Jun 22, Palmyrah rated it it was amazing. I am by no means competent to review this literary masterpiece, but — having read the litany of confusion on the review pages of this volume and its companions — I wish to state the following, simply in order to be helpful. The four volumes of The Book of the New Sun are one long novel, not four separate books. It was originally published in four volumes because it was too expensive and cumbersome to print as one.

Don't expect the satisfaction of an ending at the conclusion of every volume. Ex I am by no means competent to review this literary masterpiece, but — having read the litany of confusion on the review pages of this volume and its companions — I wish to state the following, simply in order to be helpful. Expect cliffhangers. You will almost certainly doubt it more than once while you are reading, but the novel, taken as a whole, does tell a coherent, linear story. It is the story of how and why Severian, the narrator and hero, became what he is at the end of the last book.

Everything you read, however irrelevant it may seem, is part of that story and vital to the plot. The apparently but only apparently meandering style of the narrative is designed to confuse. This book, more than most, is a game the reader is invited to play with the author. The dice in this game are heavily loaded. It is impossible to understand The Book of the New Sun on a first reading. At any rate and I have studied the matter , I have never heard or read of anyone who has.

It is a book you have to read at least twice. The author actually tells you this explicitly, using the voice of Severian to do so. Thoughtfully, he saves the advice until the last page of the last volume. To complicate matters further, there is a story underneath the story. Understanding that story, you will at last understand why Severian's journey is so long and why the incidents in it are so strange and seemingly incomprehensible.

This story may not reveal itself at even a second reading. The small stories within the main narrative there are many of them scattered throughout all four volumes are also very relevant to the main plot, and even more relevant to the subtextual 'under-story' mentioned above. To repeat, nothing in The Book of the New Sun is irrelevant. This is science fiction, not fantasy even though it won a World Fantasy Award.

Nothing supernatural happens in it, with the exception of two major, frequently-repeated events that take place at various points during the narrative.

One you will not even realize is happening the first time you read the book; I actually had to have it pointed out to me after not even having noticed it on my second reading.

The second is easy enough to spot, but is not really presented as supernatural. Anyway, in The Book of the New Sun , what is supernatural on one level always turns out to be perfectly natural on a different level — as indeed it must be, if you think about it. Even God can't be supernatural from His own point of view.

I have read this book three times over a period of roughly 20 years. My last reading began after having spent some months lurking on urth. Even so, there is much in The Book of the New Sun that I don't understand, though neither the plot nor the subtext are mysteries to me any longer. This book certainly isn't for everyone; like Buddhism, you need to have travelled far along the path already before you can take it up and gain anything from it. If you find what I have written above intriguing rather than offputting, Gene Wolfe's masterpiece may be for you.

Otherwise, seriously, don't bother. A final word of warning. He loves to play with symbols, and he does it on practically every page of this book; but most of the time he does it playfully, as a literary conceit, and for the entertainment of the best-read among his readers.


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With every additional entry in this series, I feel less and less confident in my ability to grasp just what in the actual fuck is going on. That should probably be the baseline of reading a book, right? To be able to identify incredibly basic things like: Who are these people? Where do they live?


The Citadel of the Autarch

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