Caldé of the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun Series #3)

Caldé of the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun Series #3)

by Gene Wolfe

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Calde of the Long Sun is a book by Gene Wolfe.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429966740
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 11/15/1995
Series: Book of the Long Sun Series , #3
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 732,401
File size: 327 KB

About the Author

Gene Wolfe (1931-2019) was the Nebula Award-winning author of The Book of the New Sun tetralogy in the Solar Cycle, as well as the World Fantasy Award winners The Shadow of the Torturer and Soldier of Sidon. He was also a prolific writer of distinguished short fiction, which has been collected in such award-winning volumes as Storeys from the Old Hotel and The Best of Gene Wolfe.

A recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award, and six Locus Awards, among many other honors, Wolfe was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007, and named Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2012.

Gene Wolfe (1931-2019) was the Nebula Award-winning author of The Book of the New Sun tetralogy in the Solar Cycle, as well as the World Fantasy Award winners The Shadow of the Torturer and Soldier of Sidon. He was also a prolific writer of distinguished short fiction, which has been collected in such award-winning volumes as Storeys from the Old Hotel and The Best of Gene Wolfe.

A recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award, and six Locus Awards, among many other honors, Wolfe was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007, and named Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2012.

Read an Excerpt

Calde of the Long Sun

By Gene Wolfe, David G. Hartwell

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 1994 Gene Wolfe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6674-0



As unruffled by the disturbances shaking the city as by the furious thunderstorm that threatened with every gust to throw down its shiprock and return its mud brick to the parent mud, His Cognizance Patera Quetzal, Prolocutor of the Chapter of This Our Holy City of Viron, studied his present sere and sallow features in the polished belly of the silver teapot.

As at this hour each day, he swung his head to the right and contemplated his nearly noseless profile, made a similar inspection of its obverse, and elevated his chin to display a lengthy and notably wrinkled neck. He had shaped and colored face and neck with care upon arising, as he did every morning; nevertheless, there remained the possibility (however remote) that something had gone awry by ten: thus the present amused but painstaking self-examination.

"For I am a careful man," he muttered, pretending to smooth one thin white eyebrow.

A crash of thunder shook the Prolocutor's Palace to its foundations at the final word, brightening every light in the room to a glare; rain and hail drummed the windowpanes.

Patera Remora, Coadjutor of the Chapter, nodded solemnly. "Yes indeed, Your Cognizance. You are indeed a most — ah — advertent man."

Yet there was always that possibility. "I'm growing old, Patera. Even we careful men grow old."

Remora nodded again, his long bony face expressive of regret. "Alas, Your Cognizance."

"As do many other things, Patera. Our city ... The Whorl itself grows old. When we're young, we notice things that are young, like ourselves. New grass on old graves. New leaves on old trees." Quetzal lifted his chin again to study his bulging reflection through hooded eyes.

"The golden season of beauty and — um — elegiacs, Your Cognizance." Remora's fingers toyed with a dainty sandwich.

"As we notice the signs of advancing age in ourselves, we see them in the Whorl. Just a few chems today who ever saw a man who saw a man who remembered the day Pas made the Whorl."

A little bewildered by the rapid riffle through so many generations, Remora nodded again. "Indeed, Your Cognizance. Indeed not." Surreptitiously, he wiped jam from one finger.

"You become conscious of recurrences, the cyclical nature of myth. When first I received the bacculus, I had occasion to survey many old documents. I read each with care. It was my custom to devote three Hieraxdays a month to that. To that alone, and to inescapable obsequies. I gave my prothonotary the straitest instructions to make no appointments for that day. It's a practice I recommend, Patera."

Thunder rattled the room again, lightning a dragon beyond the windows.

"I will, um, reinstitute this wise usage at once, Your Cognizance."

"At once, you say?" Quetzal looked up from the silver pot, resolved to repowder his chin at the first opportunity. "You may go to young Incus and so instruct him, if you want. Tell him now, Patera. Tell him now."

"That is — ah — unfeasible, I fear, Your Cognizance. I sent Patera Incus upon a — um — errand Molpsday. He has not — um — rejoined us."

"I see. I see." With a trembling hand, Quetzal raised his cup until its gilt rim touched his lips, then lowered it, though not so far as to expose his chin. "I want beef tea, Patera. There's no strength in this. I want beef tea. See to it, please."

Long accustomed to the request, his coadjutor rose. "I shall prepare it with my own hands, Your Cognizance. It will — ah — occupy only an, um, trice. Boiling water, an, um, roiling boil. Your Cognizance may rely upon me."

Slowly, Quetzal replaced the delicate cup in its saucer as he watched Remora's retreating back; he even spilled a few drops there, for he was, as he had said, careful. The measured closing of the door. Good. The clank of the latchbar. Good again. No one could intrude now without noise and a slight delay; he had designed the latching mechanism himself.

Without leaving his chair, he extracted the puff from a drawer on the other side of the room and applied fleshtoned powder delicately to the small, sharp chin he had shaped with such care upon arising. Swinging his head from side to side as before, frowning and smiling by turns, he studied the effect in the teapot. Good, good!

Rain beat against the windows with such force as to drive trickles of chill water through crevices in the casements; it pooled invitingly on the milkstone windowsills and fell in cataracts to soak the carpet. That, too, was good. At three, he would preside at the private sacrifice of twenty-one dappled horses, the now-posthumous offering of Councillor Lemur — one to all the gods for each week since rain more substantial than a shower had blessed Viron's fields. They could be converted to a thank offering, and he would so convert them.

Would the congregation know by then of Lemur's demise? Quetzal debated the advisability of announcing the fact if they did not. It was a question of some consequence; and at length, for the temporary relief the act afforded him, he pivoted his hinged fangs from their snug grooves in the roof of his mouth, snapping each gratefully into its socket and grinning gleefully at his distorted image.

The rattle of the latch was nearly lost in another crash of thunder, but he had kept an eye on the latchbar. There was a second and louder rattle as Remora, on the other side of the door, contended with the inconveniently shaped iron handle that would, when its balky rotation had been completed, laboriously lift the clumsy bar clear of its cradle.

Quetzal touched his lips almost absently with his napkin; when he spread it upon his lap again, his fangs had vanished. "Yes, Patera?" he inquired querulously. "What is it now? Is it time already?"

"Your beef tea, Your Cognizance." Remora set his small tray on the table. "Shall I — um — decant a cup for you? I have, er, obtained a clean cup for the purpose."

"Do, Patera. Please do." Quetzal smiled. "While you were gone, I was contemplating the nature of humor. Have you ever considered it?"

Remora resumed his seat. "I fear not, Your Cognizance."

"What's become of young Incus? You hadn't expected him to be gone so long?"

"No, Your Cognizance. I dispatched him to Limna." Remora spooned beef salts into the clean cup and added water from the small copper kettle he had brought, producing a fine plume of steam. "I am — ah — moderately concerned. An, um, modicum of civil unrest last night, eh?" He stirred vigorously. "This — ah — stripling Silk. Patera Silk, alas. I know ham."

"My prothonotary told me." With the slightest of nods, Quetzal accepted the steaming cup. "I'd have thought Limna would be safer."

"As would I, Your Cognizance. As did I."

A cautious sip. Quetzal held the hot, salty fluid in his mouth, drawing it deliciously through folded fangs.

"I sent him in search of a — ah, um — individual, Your Cognizance. A, er, acquaintance of this Patera Silk's. The Civil Guard is searching for Patera himself, hey? As are, er, certain others. Other — ah — parties. So I am told. This morning, Your Cognizance, I dispatched still others to look for young Incus. The rain, however, ah, necessitous, will hamper them all, hum?"

"Do you swim, Patera?"

"I, Your Cognizance? At the — um — lakeside, you mean? No. Or at least, not for many years."

"Nor I."

Remora groped toward a point he had yet to discern. "A healthful exercise, however. For those of, um, unaugmented years, eh? A hot bath before sacrifice, Your Cognizance? Or — I have it! — springs. There are, er, reborant springs at Urbs. Healing springs, most healthful. Possibly, while — ah — affairs are so — ah — unsettled here, eh?"

Quetzal shook himself. He had a way of quivering like a fat man when he did that, although on the few occasions when Remora had been obliged to lift him into bed, his body had in fact been light and sinuous. "The gods ..." He smiled.

"Must be served, to be sure, Your Cognizance. I would be on the spot — ah — ensuring that the Chapter's interests were vigilantly safeguarded, hey?" Remora tossed lank black hair away from his eyes. "Each rite carried out with — um —"

"You must recall the story, Patera." Quetzal swayed from side to side, perhaps with silent mirth. "A-man and Wo-man like rabbits in a garden. The — what do you call them?" He held up a thin, blue-veined hand, palm cupped.

"A cobra, Your Cognizance?"

"The cobra persuaded Wo-man to eat fruit from his tree, miraculous fruit whose taste conferred wisdom."

Remora nodded, wondering how he might reintroduce the springs. "I recollect the — um — allegory."

Quetzal nodded more vigorously, a wise teacher proffering praise to a small boy. "It's all in the Writings. Or nearly all. A god called Ah Lah barred Wo-man and her husband from the garden." He ceased to speak, apparently wandering among thoughts. "We seem to have lost sight of Ah Lah, by the way. I can't recall a single sacrifice to him. No one ever asks why the cobra wanted Wo-man to eat his fruit."

"From sheer, er, wickedness, Your Cognizance? That is what I had always supposed."

Quetzal swayed faster, his face solemn. "In order that she would climb his tree, Patera. The man likewise. Their story's not over because they haven't climbed down. That's why I asked if you had considered the nature of humor. Is Patera Incus a strong swimmer?"

"Why, I've — ah — no notion, Your Cognizance."

"Because you think you know why the woman you sent him to look for visited the lake with our scamp Silk, whose name I see on walls."

"Why, er, Your Cognizance is — ah — great penetration, as always." Remora fidgeted.

"I saw it scratched on one five floors up, yesterday," Quetzal continued as though he had not heard, "and went wide."

"Disgraceful, Your Cognizance!"

"Respect for our cloth, Patera. I myself swim well. Not so well as a fish, but very well indeed. Or I did."

"I'm pleased to hear it, Your Cognizance."

"The jokes of gods are long in telling. That's why you ought to sift the records of the past on Hieraxdays, Patera. Today's Hieraxday. You'll learn to think in new and better ways. Thank you for my beef tea. Now go."

Remora rose and bowed. "As Your Cognizance desires."

His Cognizance stared past him, lost in speculation.

Greatly daring, Remora ventured, "I have often observed that your own way of thinking is somewhat — ah — unlike, as well as much more, um, select than that of most men."

There was no reply. Remora took a step backward. "Upon every — ah — topic whatsoever, Your Cognizance's information is quite, um, marvelous."

"Wait." Quetzal had made his decision. "The riots. Has the Alambrera fallen?"

"What's that? The Alambrera? Why — ah — no. Not to my knowledge, Your Cognizance."

"Tonight." Quetzal reached for his beef tea. "Sit down, Patera. You're always jumping about. You make me nervous. It can't be good for you. Lemur's dead. Did you know it?"

Remora's mouth gaped, then snapped shut. He sat.

"You weren't. It's your responsibility to learn things."

Remora acknowledged his responsibility with a shamefaced nod. "May I inquire, Your Cognizance —?"

"How I know? In the same way I knew the woman you sent Incus after had gone to Lake Limna with Patera Caldé Silk."

"Your Cognizance!"

Once again, Quetzal favored Remora with his lipless smile. "Are you afraid I'll be arrested, Patera? Cast into the pits? You'd be Prolocutor, presumably. I've no fear of the pits." Quetzal's long-skulled, completely hairless head bobbed above his cup. "Not at my age. None."

"None the less, I implore Your Cognizance to be more — ah — circumspect."

"Why isn't the city burning, patera?"

Caught by surprise, Remora glanced at the closest window.

"Mud brick and shiprock walls. Timbers supporting upper floors. Thatch or shingles. Five blocks of shops burned last night. Why isn't the whole city burning today?"

"It's raining, Your Cognizance," Remora summoned all his courage. "It's been raining — ah — forcibly since early this morning."

"Exactly so. Patera Caldé Silk went to Limna on Molpsday with a woman. That same day, you sent Incus there to look for an acquaintance of his. A woman, since you were reluctant to speak of it. Councillor Loris spoke through the glass an hour before lunch."

Remora tensed. "He told you Councillor Lemur was no longer among us, Your Cognizance?"

Quetzal swung his head back and forth. "That Lemur was still alive, Patera. There are rumors. So it would appear. He wanted me to denounce them this afternoon."

"But if Councillor Loris — ah — assures —"

"Clearly Lemur's dead. If he weren't, he'd speak to me in person. Or show himself at the Juzgado. Or both."

"Even so, Your Cognizance —"

Another crash of thunder made common cause with Quetzal's thin hand to interrupt.

"Can the Ayuntamiento prevail without him? That's the question, Patera. I want your opinion."

To give himself time to consider, Remora sipped his now-tepid tea. "Munitions, the — ah — thews of contention, are stored in the Alambrera, as well as in the, um, cantonment of the Civil Guard, east of the city."

"I know that."

"It is an, er, complex of great — um — redoubtability, Your Cognizance. I am informed that the outer wall is twelve cubits in — ah — laterality. Yet Your Cognizance anticipates its surrender tonight? Before venturing an opinion, may I enquire as to the source of Your Cognizance's information?"

"I haven't any," Quetzal told him. "I was thinking out loud. If the Alambrera doesn't fall in a day or so, Patera Caldé Silk will fail. That's my opinion. Now I want yours."

"Your Cognizance does me honor. There is also the — um — dormant army to consider. Councillor Lemur — ah — Loris will undoubtedly issue an — ah — call to arms, should the, um, situation, in his view, become serious."

"Your opinion, Patera."

Remora's cup rattled in its saucer. "As long as the — ah — ndelity of the Civil Guard remains — um — unblemished, Your Cognizance," he drew a deep breath, "it would appear to me, though I am assuredly no — um — master hand at matters military, that — ah, um — Patera Caldé cannot prevail."

Quetzal appeared to be listening only to the storm; for perhaps fifteen tickings of the coffin-shaped clock that stood beside the door, the howling of the wind and the lash of rain filled the room. At last he asked, "Suppose that you were to learn that part of the Guard's gone over to Silk already?"

Remora's eyes widened. "Your Cognizance has —?"

"No reason to think so. My question's hypothetical."

Remora, who had much experience of Quetzal's hypothetical questions, filled his lungs again. "I should then say, Your Cognizance, that should any such unhappy circumstance — ah — circumstances eventuate, the city would find itself amongst — ah — perilous waters."

"And the Chapter?"

Remora looked doleful. "Equally so, Your Cognizance, if not worse. As an augur, Silk could well, ah, proclaim himself Prolocutor, as well as caldé."

"Really. He lacks reverence for you, my coadjutor?"

"No, Your Cognizance. Quite the, um, contrary."

Quetzal sipped beef tea in silence.

"Your Cognizance — ah — intends the Chapter to support the — um — host of, er, Patera Caldé?"

"I want you to compose a circular letter, Patera. You have nearly six hours. It should be more than enough. I'll sign it when we're through in the Grand Manteion." Quetzal stared down at the stagnant brown liquid in his cup.

"To all the clergy, Your Cognizance?"

"Emphasize our holy duty to bring comfort to the wounded and the Final Formula to the dying. Imply, but don't say —" Quetzal paused, inspired.

"Yes, Your Cognizance?"

"That Lemur's death ends the claim to rule the councillors had in the past. You say you know Patera Caldé Silk?"

Remora nodded. "I conversed with him at some — ah — extensively Scylsday evening, Your Cognizance. We discussed the financial — um — trials of his manteion, and — ah — various other matters."

"I don't, Patera. But I've read every report in his file, those of his instructors and those of his predecessor. Thus my recommendation. Diligent, sensitive, intelligent, and pious. Impatient, as is to be expected at his age. Respectful, which you now confirm. A tireless worker, a point his instructor in theonomy was at pains to emphasize. Pliable. During the past few days, he's become immensely popular. Should he succeed in subjugating the Ayuntamiento, he's apt to remain so for a year or more. Perhaps much longer. Charteral government by a young augur who'll need seasoned advisors to remain in office ..."

"Indeed, Your Cognizance." Remora nodded energetically. "The same — ah — intuition had occurred to me."

With his cup, Quetzal gestured toward the nearest window. "We suffer a change in weather, Patera."

"An, um, profound one, Your Cognizance."

"We must acclimate ourselves to it. That's why I asked if young Incus swam. If you can reach him, tell him to strike out boldly. Have I made myself clear?"


Excerpted from Calde of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe, David G. Hartwell. Copyright © 1994 Gene Wolfe. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Chapter 2 - SILK'S BACK!,
Chapter 4 - THE PLAN OF PAS,
Chapter 5 - MAIL,
Chapter 6 - THE BLIND GOD,
Chapter 8 - PEACE,
Chapter 9 - VICTORY,
Chapter 10 - CALDÉ SILK,
By Gene Wolfe from Tom Doherty Associates,
Copyright Page,

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Caldé of the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun Series #3) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great scifi, and just great literature!