Customer Reviews for

Shadow and Claw: The Shadow of the Torturer/The Claw of the Conciliator

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

If you like Herbert, Asimov, or Simmons....

To me, this is one of the best books from an incredibly underrated and important author. The New Sun series is on a par with the original Dune series, Dan Simmons' Hyperion series, and Asimov's Foundation series.

The characters contain a fantastic blend of me...
To me, this is one of the best books from an incredibly underrated and important author. The New Sun series is on a par with the original Dune series, Dan Simmons' Hyperion series, and Asimov's Foundation series.

The characters contain a fantastic blend of medieval sensibility and modern humanity played against a far flung, yet hauntingly familiar backdrop. I found myself sympathizing with characters, that in lesser fiction, I would simply dismiss as the sum of their deeds and actions. Wolfe writes with a fortitude that both invites and in many ways forces the reader to interact with each character on a personal level.

To categorize this book as solidly in a single genre would be erroneous. There are aspects of sheer horror, misguided romance, high science fiction and fantasy, as well as portions that read biographically. It is so rich with metaphor and imagery, but is not mired down by it. Not many authors show the ability to write multi-texturally, and even fewer with the skill that Wolfe displays throughout this series. For these reasons, among many, this book will stick with the reader for long after it is finished.

I consider the New Sun series, specifically the first 4 books of it, to be some of the best fiction in my collection. They have not diluted over time through multiple re-readings, nor has their ability to impact my thoughts diminished. If you are looking for a series of books to involve, challenge, and excite, I would recommend you give these a try. It is a far cry from some of the easier science-fiction/fantasy pieces out there, but for me, the journey through these books has been worth it each and every time.

posted by boots on November 8, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Huh?

Either the author's vision is so grand and epic that mere mortals can't comprehend it, or this series is the drunken ramblings of a bum he happened to meet.

posted by 9672068 on March 19, 2013

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  • Posted November 8, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    If you like Herbert, Asimov, or Simmons....

    To me, this is one of the best books from an incredibly underrated and important author. The New Sun series is on a par with the original Dune series, Dan Simmons' Hyperion series, and Asimov's Foundation series. <BR/><BR/>The characters contain a fantastic blend of medieval sensibility and modern humanity played against a far flung, yet hauntingly familiar backdrop. I found myself sympathizing with characters, that in lesser fiction, I would simply dismiss as the sum of their deeds and actions. Wolfe writes with a fortitude that both invites and in many ways forces the reader to interact with each character on a personal level.<BR/><BR/>To categorize this book as solidly in a single genre would be erroneous. There are aspects of sheer horror, misguided romance, high science fiction and fantasy, as well as portions that read biographically. It is so rich with metaphor and imagery, but is not mired down by it. Not many authors show the ability to write multi-texturally, and even fewer with the skill that Wolfe displays throughout this series. For these reasons, among many, this book will stick with the reader for long after it is finished.<BR/><BR/>I consider the New Sun series, specifically the first 4 books of it, to be some of the best fiction in my collection. They have not diluted over time through multiple re-readings, nor has their ability to impact my thoughts diminished. If you are looking for a series of books to involve, challenge, and excite, I would recommend you give these a try. It is a far cry from some of the easier science-fiction/fantasy pieces out there, but for me, the journey through these books has been worth it each and every time.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    Unforgetable story

    This was the first book written by Gene Wolfe that I had ever read, and I found it enthralling. Since then, I've read just about everything he has written. His is not an obvious or in-your-face style of writing; his wording is beautiful and descriptive, but ambiguious at the same time. I love the atmosphere he builds, as well. Very intelligent and unforgetable story. I highly recommend it, as well as his other works. Particularly Pirate Freedom and the Latro books.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Huh?

    Either the author's vision is so grand and epic that mere mortals can't comprehend it, or this series is the drunken ramblings of a bum he happened to meet.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Well written but I didn't care for subject matter & story. Obtusely written, difficult to follow - waste of money!

    Explores an extremely brutal future of earth. Toture is institutionalized, morals and ethics aren't there, polution is rampant. This author never repeats, explains or connects anything plus he uses archaic language so the story is difficult to follow and rather obtuse. The fourth book is particularly bad, with rambling insertions of unrelated stories from four people. Nothing is really wrapped up in the fourth book and the ending just leaves you hanging - I guess so you will buy the next book? Overall, not worth my time to read it or the money I paid for it.
    The story is told entirely from the main character's point of view so that character is very well developed. The problem I had is I did not like the main character. He claims to be in love with one woman but has casual affairs with several others along the way. When I got to the part where I realized he had sex with his paternal grandmother, I was pretty disgusted. Plus the main character is a torturer and executioner, not a nice guy. He talks about rape and torture like they are everyday, normal topics -very cold.
    Also Christianity comes under fire repeatedly in this book. From a very nasty version of the Holy Eurcharist to the religious orders being only for the elite class, it is clear the author has a very negative view of Christianity.

    2 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2000

    A NEW ARTISTIC GENRE

    Although the Saga of Severian the Torturer happens to take place in a fantastic setting, the writing style of Gene Wolfe is the sole fantastic element. Wolfe weaves poetic precision and art into his tale, and the tale (which is hardly one, according to conventional terms) focuses on finding the higher thought in a realistic world. Most life does not have a evident climax or solution, and this is such in Wolfe's masterpieces. the hero like the super climax, does not exist. Wolfe's writing stressed on these principals creates an uncanny sense of realism. The world he shapes and moves, however, can leap in a single written page. Wolfe's artistic writing sytle robustly illustrates in a few words what others can hardly do in a page. (the best kept secret in the literature world)

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2000

    Outstanding Series!!!

    Abandon all your long-held preconceptions about fantasy and sci-fi literature because Gene Wolfe has totally re-written the rule book! <BR> <BR> This edition of his masterwork contains both of the first two volumes in the epic tale that continues to grow to this day. Shasow of the Torturer and Claw of the Conciliator. <BR> <BR> This series of fantasy/sci-fi novels finally succeeds where so many before have failed in trying to merge the two genres into one believable and incredibly detailed world! <BR> <BR> Read the books....read them all! But don't fool yourself into thinking you know what will happen next because the entire series builds to one epic finale that you will never in your wildest fantasies be able to guess!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    Shadow and claw

    I was not happy with this book, IT was too wordy, and Very Short on action . I am reading it because I. Paid for it. I won,t be buying any more like this.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Review of The Shadow of the Torturer (Part 1 of Shadow and Claw)

    Review of The Shadow of the Torturer (Part 1 of Shadow and Claw) Gene Wolfe and the New Sun series appears on a lot of must-read lists. so I got around to reading the first book. I did read this in conjunction with a Goodreads science-fiction and fantasy book club. The responses to The Shadow of the Torturer fell into two camps, broadly speaking.

    I fell into the &quot;enjoyed it camp.&quot; The book is not an easy read. Why? Wolfe writes in a postmodern vein, which is a way of saying that if you are seeking clarity in plot, characters, and motivations, you won't find it here. That is not saying Wolfe does not provide a plot and whatnot, but he constantly undermines all of it by wordplay, ambiguity, and confusion. Instead, you constantly question yourself, what you know because--at least for me--the essential question of postmodernism is can you anything truly. So the language subverts what we can know, and Wolfe uses a plethora of antique words: carnifex, amphitryon, gyoll, noyade, and on and on. If you don't like using a dictionary (and an excellent dictionary) this book may not be of interest to you. As a part of that, the appendix promotes a postmodern reading of this book. You begin the novel and, if you're like me, pulling out the dictionary to check meanings on many out-of-date terms. The story adds layers upon layers and never allows you to have a settled perception. Then comes the appendix, which throws another layer on it. The &quot;translator&quot; of Severian's tale found proximate words or, in the case of Latin terms, crafted something for unknown words. In other words, a lot of the words you've been hanging onto to allow for comprehension, Wolfe pretty much blows up. What you thought you knew may not be what you thought you knew. Though it could be still.

    Sometimes even the characters seem confused by the terminology or events. All of this is subtly told. Plot: Severian, a journeyman in the guild of torturers, is exiled from the city Nessus for a crime against the guild. By the end of the novel, Severian has encountered a number of characters and some exploits, and arrives at a giant wall and gate without much in between--yet it's a hefty 600 some pages (ebook).

    Wolfe is a masterful writer with a stunning grasp of English and the multiplicity of meanings (historical and popular) that words have, a way reminiscent of Vladimir Nabokov (a writer I greatly admire). This is a novel that will stand up to multiple readings because the smallest of details, the smallest of perceptions of not only the reader but the characters open up entirely new avenues of meaning. A highly recommended novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2012

    A+

    My favorite

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2014

    Eh...I'm not sure...

    This was an 'interesting' read. Wolfe's writing is enthralling, beautiful, simplistic, droll, and exciting. Each chapter of the first 2 books seems to raise about a dozen questions--are these characters human; is this past, future, alternate present--without satsfactorily answering any of them while the protagonist Severian meanders through a Homer-esque quest to basically walk down the street.

    I found the end of the first book and the beginning of the second book particularly jarring, as half of the established cast inexplicably disappears, snd instead is replaced by a new character who is introduced almost like an afterthought in the last pages of the first. This random guy then becomes the Severian's sole companion for fully 2/3 of the second book. Oh, and he's a robot?

    These books are strange. Interesting, sure. Good? I'm not so sure. I guess I'd have to read the rest to make a decision, but I'm really not sure I want to.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2013

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2012

    My favorite book

    I used to only read fantasy and science fiction novels. This book definitely falls into one of those categories, yet it is so much better than most genre works. If you've nefer read a book with a truly unreliable narrator before, then you need to start.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    First two books of the new sun series

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Really My Style

    I Had High Expectations For This Book, I Even Went Out And Bought Another One Of His Books Based On What Someone Told Me. However I Bought The Second Book Before I Started To Read This And What A MISTAKE! It Was Hard To Understand, It Was All Over The Place And Worst Of All It Was Boring. Like I Said It Not My STYLE.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2005

    The best that's out there

    Gene Wolfe creates a story which is believable and believable, both very human and alien. Getting to the end in and of itself is a real treat. The story-telling is rife with gorgeous prose and staggering description. I am having a hard time going back to other books now that I have completed this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2000

    Excellent Fantasy

    These first two books of the Urth of the New Sun series rank at the very top of my list of science fiction works. The concepts and language very clearly reveal a breathtaking ability. Gene Wolfe is a literary treasure.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2000

    Refreshing!!

    A very nice break into an intellectual world. It is escapism at its finest, which is what true fiction should be about. It transports the mind but not without its own neurons having to fire. Very nice, and very much appreciated.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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