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Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun' Paperback – October 15, 1994

3.8 out of 5 stars 482 ratings
Book 1 of 4 in the New Sun Series

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Frequently bought together

  • Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun'
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  • Sword & Citadel: The Second Half of The Book of the New Sun (New Sun (2))
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  • The Urth of the New Sun: The sequel to 'The Book of the New Sun' (New Sun (3))
Total price: $41.77
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the most acclaimed "science fantasies" ever, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is a long, magical novel in four volumes. Shadow & Claw contains the first two: The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator, which respectively won the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards.

This is the first-person narrative of Severian, a lowly apprentice torturer blessed and cursed with a photographic memory, whose travels lead him through the marvels of far-future Urth, and who--as revealed near the beginning--eventually becomes his land's sole ruler or Autarch. On the surface it's a colorful story with all the classic ingredients: growing up, adventure, sex, betrayal, murder, exile, battle, monsters, and mysteries to be solved. (Only well into book 2 do we realize what saved Severian's life in chapter 1.) For lovers of literary allusions, they are plenty here: a Dickensian cemetery scene, a torture-engine from Kafka, a wonderful library out of Borges, and familiar fables changed by eons of retelling. Wolfe evokes a chilly sense of time's vastness, with an age-old, much-restored painting of a golden-visored "knight," really an astronaut standing on the moon, and an ancient citadel of metal towers, actually grounded spacecraft. Even the sun is senile and dying, and so Urth needs a new sun.

The Book of the New Sun is almost heartbreakingly good, full of riches and subtleties that improve with each rereading. It is Gene Wolfe's masterpiece. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

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The Book of the New Sun establishes [Wolfe's] pre-eminence, pure and simple....The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within...once into it, there is no stopping.” ―The New York Times Book Review

“Magic stuff...a masterpiece...the best science fiction I've read in years!” ―Ursula K. Le Guin

“Arguably the best piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced.” ―Chicago Sun-Times


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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
482 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on February 9, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2018
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Top international reviews

D. J. Franklin
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey through an ancient future
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 18, 2015
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PD
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow, rambling and seems to go nowhere.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 22, 2017
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SatBat
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 10, 2014
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A Senior Citizen
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Sci-Fi Must read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2009
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Mozen
2.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous writing, weak, confusing plot.
Reviewed in Canada on September 5, 2015
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Thiago Sanches Ranzani da SIlva
5.0 out of 5 stars For speculative fiction fans
Reviewed in Brazil on March 16, 2020
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P
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Science Fantasy
Reviewed in India on August 27, 2016
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DTM
4.0 out of 5 stars Buena!
Reviewed in Spain on January 18, 2020
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Ghost in the flower
5.0 out of 5 stars A la sombra del torturador
Reviewed in Mexico on July 28, 2015
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Michael Raw
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed.
Reviewed in Canada on December 4, 2019
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Ari
5.0 out of 5 stars Great work
Reviewed in Germany on March 21, 2015
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reader
5.0 out of 5 stars simply great
Reviewed in Germany on August 19, 2014
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John Griffin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good.
Reviewed in Canada on April 24, 2016
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Uri
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of weakly related glimpses - but no story
Reviewed in Germany on May 3, 2017
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Stephen Nelson
2.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my grandson who seems to be enjoying it.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 18, 2014
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