Empire of the Sun (Lost Gods Book 1)


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Typhon tries to dominate Severian with physical threats, psychological manipulation, and something like hypnosis, but Severian finds a way to kill him. As they leave the mountain little Severian dies in an accident. Continuing his journey to the great Lake Diuturna, Severian is drawn into a local conflict on the side of a group of islanders being enslaved. He discovers that his old companions Dr. Talos and Baldanders are the enslavers, and battles the giant Baldanders. Severian barely survives, and Baldanders vanishes in the lake. Severian's sword is destroyed.

The Claw is shattered, but he finds a black object like a literal claw that had been inside it. In the wake of this battle, Severian seeks to digest a series of revelations: about the nature of Baldanders, the nature of the aliens including Father Inire and the older witch in the stone town who manipulate events on Urth and profess to be his friends, and the nature of the Claw he carried for so long. As he does so, he finds himself approaching the edge of the war in the North. Wandering around, Severian happens upon a dead soldier, whom he revives with the Claw, and they make their way to the Pelerines' camp.

In the camp, Severian suffers a fever and is treated along with people injured in the war. While recovering, Severian judges a story-telling contest held by fellow patients. He returns the Claw by putting it in an altar. A leader of the Pelerines tasks him to bring a friend of theirs in the mountains away from the danger of the war to the safety of the camp.

The man, a time traveler from a future where the world is covered in ice, refuses to come with Severian, and when Severian leads him away by force, the man disappears, as he does not belong in Severian's time. Upon returning to the camp, Severian discovers it has been attacked and abandoned.

He soon finds the new camp, where most of those he met during his stay are dead or dying. Severian is drawn into the war against Ascia. He nearly perishes in battle but is rescued by the Autarch.

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Severian is nursed back to health and converses with the Autarch about his role in the Commonwealth. Taking a flier over the war zone, they are shot down. The Autarch, dying, tells Severian to drink the contents of a vial around the Autarch's neck and eat his brain, as Severian is to be the next Autarch. Severian does so, and since the vial contained the alzabo drug or something similar, he acquires hundreds of consciousnesses that the Autarch had through the same process.

Before the Autarch died, he sent a message to Vodalus that the Autarch was aboard the flier. Thea and a group of Vodalus's men descend on the crash site and rescue Severian from their allies the Ascians. Severian is held prisoner and is visited by Agia in company with a former spacefarer who calls from other planets the creatures that have been attacking Severian. Agia attempts to kill Severian again, but he survives and is rescued by the green time traveler whom he rescued in The Claw of the Conciliator. The green man opens a passage through time in which Severian is visited by an alien who takes the form of Master Malrubius, a torturer who had died in Severian's boyhood, accompanied by the dog Triskele.

Severian realizes that the last Autarch must have failed and thus become an androgyne.

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After the meeting, Severian is left on a beach where many wild rosebushes are in bloom. He is pricked by a thorn and realizes that it is identical to the Claw, even to glowing. Seeing that and countless identical Claws on other bushes leads him to a religious experience. He also ponders the meaning of the Claw, higher beings such as the alien who appeared as Malrubius, time travel, and the New Sun. In an interlude at the time of writing the book, he says that he is on his way to the test. Severian makes his way back to Nessus aboard a ship whose crewmen revere him on sight.

In a long-abandoned part of Nessus he finds Dorcas in her old house but leaves without making himself known to her.

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He visits other people of his past, assumes the role of Autarch, and suspends the practice of torture. Finding the gold coin Vodalus had given him, he realizes it was counterfeit. He returns to the waiter who slipped him the note in The Shadow of the Torturer. The note was meant for Dorcas, who reminded the waiter of his mother.

A picture of Dorcas in a locket around the waiter's neck confirms this suspicion.

It is implied that the waiter is Severian's father. Dorcas had died long before, and though Severian did not yet know he had the Claw, it brought her back to life in the lake. The book ends with Severian exploring the Citadel and retracing Triskele's steps through an underground building. He follows his own tracks, returning to the Atrium of Time and Valeria.

Severian, the main character and narrator to the series, can be interpreted as a Christ figure. His life has many parallels to the life of Jesus , and Gene Wolfe, a Catholic , has explained that he deliberately mirrored Jesus in Severian. He compares Severian's profession as a torturer to Jesus's profession as a carpenter in The Castle of the Otter : [7].

It has been remarked thousands of times that Christ died under torture.

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Many of us have read so often that he was a "humble carpenter" that we feel a little surge of nausea on seeing the words yet again. But no one ever seems to notice that the instruments of torture were wood, nails, and a hammer; that the man who built the cross was undoubtedly a carpenter too; that the man who hammered in the nails was as much a carpenter as a soldier, as much a carpenter as a torturer.

Very few even have seem to have noticed that although Christ was a "humble carpenter," the only object we are specifically told he made was not a table or a chair, but a whip. Severian's life parallels Jesus' occasionally, with his descent into the cave of the man-apes being a Harrowing of Hell scene, his resurrection of Declan being a Lazarus of Bethany scene, and his friendship with Jonas reflecting Ahasuerus. In this respect he represents the wandering Jew. Also mirroring the crown of thorns, the Claw of the Conciliator, a thorn that causes Severian to shed blood, becomes a religious relic due to its relation to Severian.

Terminus Est represents his crucifix , with Severian describing his sword in Urth of the New Sun as a "dark cross upon my shoulder. However, Wolfe said in an interview, "I don't think of Severian as being a Christ figure; I think of Severian as being a Christian figure. He is a man who has been born into a very perverse background, who is gradually trying to become better.

During the years when The Book of the New Sun was published, Wolfe published two stories from it separately: "Foila's Story: The Armiger's Daughter" one of the entries in the story-telling contest in the Pelerines' hospital and "The Tale of the Student and his Son" one of the two stories that Severian reproduces from a book he obtained for Thecla when she was imprisoned. Shortly after The Citadel of the Autarch , Wolfe published The Castle of the Otter , a book of essays about The Book of the New Sun containing a few fictional elements, such as jokes told by some of the characters.

After the original four-volume novel, Wolfe wrote a novel often called a coda, The Urth of the New Sun Later he wrote two book series that are set in Severian's universe. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database catalogues it all as the "Solar Cycle", comprising the short works and three sub-series. Long Sun is set on a generation ship and Short Sun features the inhabitants of that generation ship after their long journey.


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Two of the Long Sun books were nominated for Nebula Awards. Peter Wright calls the series an " apotheosis " of traditional Dying Earth elements and themes, and Douglas Barbour suggests that the book is a foundational mosaic of that literary heritage:. Wolfe has not only written a truly marvellous science fantasy set millions of years in our future on a dying 'Urth', he has written the book on such works Traces of this literary tradition can be found throughout the book. In The Sword of the Lictor , Cyriaca the woman whom Severian spares in Thrax tells Severian a legend about an automated city, with rebirth as a central theme.

This mirrors John W.

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Campbell 's Twilight , where sentient machines remove the need for human labor. Wolfe himself said that when he was a teenager Twilight had a great effect on his writing, and this homage to that story is not just a passing reference, but an allusion to a literary predecessor.

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Later in the story, Wolfe alludes to The Time Machine , with the scene where Severian meets the glowing man-apes mirroring the Time Traveler's confrontation with the Morlocks. In both stories the protagonist holds up a light to awe the cave peoples, but in the Book of the New Sun Severian relates to the humanity of the man-apes with the glowing Claw of the Conciliator, while in The Time Machine the Time Traveler intimidates the Morlocks with his fire.

Don Maitz illustrated the cover of the first publication, and Bruce Pennington illustrated the second cover. The original tetralogy has also been split into two volumes, named Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel , both published in by Orb Publications. Each book has been separately translated into French , German , Dutch , and Japanese.

The Japanese printings of the tetralogy and coda were illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. Each of the four original volumes won at least one major fantasy or science fiction award as the year's "Best Novel" as shown by the table below.

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