Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wolfe, Gene - The Sword of the Lictor

I have now reached the third of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.  The Sword of the Lictor continues Severian's heroic journey, and in this book he changes much more than in any other.  In the first two books, Severian is very detached from himself and his experiences.  Not quite to the point of dissociative disorder--he owns his actions--but he definitely stands outside himself.  In the third book he becomes more human--touched by others, but also greedy.  He forms a deep attachment to the Claw, the jewel he was supposedly carrying on behalf of the Pelerines, but maybe not so much anymore. 

His adventures become more fantastical than ever.  He meets more "cacogens", but can't really continue to call them that, as he gets to understand them better.  He still does not seem to know his path, but continues on. 

This book wasn't nominated for awards the way the first two were, but it is in many ways more powerful.  Mostly for the development of Severian as a fully rounded character.  In the appendix to the second book, Wolfe "speculates" that Severian's detachment is a result of encountering beings who have transcended the speed of light--they are outside of the Einsteinian universe, so react differently to it.  Not so much anymore.  Severian now journeys toward humanity.  3 stars.

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