The Citadel of the Autarch is the fourth and final volume of the Book of the New Sun, which is itself the first part of the twelve-volume “Solar” or. The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe. The Citadel of the Autarch is a satisfying conclusion to Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun. (A fifth book, The Urth. : The Citadel of the Autarch: The Book of the New Sun, Book 4 ( Audible Audio Edition): Gene Wolfe, Jonathan Davis, Audible Studios: Books.

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The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe. A fifth book, The Urth of the New Sunis a coda to the original four books. All of this is explored in the context of the strange characters, situations, and places that Severian meets on his way.

This is my measuring rod for excellent fantasy literature. At the same time, its baroque language, ambiguous plot, unreliable narrator, and depth of symbolism are likely to discourage most casual readers. Therefore, new readers need to dedicate themselves to unraveling the many layers of plot, religious symbolism, literary references, and narrative sleight-of-hand.

They also need to understand that it is essentially a single integrated work, so reading individual volumes is not enough to render judgement. You need to read all four volumes to appreciate what Gene Wolfe has painstakingly crafted.

If you do so, you will be rewarded richly indeed. He is the ideal narrator for a work this ambitious, as he tackles the baroque story with gravitas, confidence, and enthusiasm. Gene Wolfe, Artifice and the Reader. Therefore, it would be presumptuous of me to try to analyze his magnum opus in a brief review such as this.

Rather, I will just touch on the most important themes of the book and dispense with a discussion citadsl plot details, which you can discover on your own. He recalls to the reader his complex path auyarch lowly apprentice to the Citavel of the Commonwealth, the most powerful ruler on far-future Urth.

This world lies millions of years in the future, citafel the point that our own world is no longer even a memory. It is a baroque fantasy world filled auutarch mysterious terms cifadel as archon, carnifex, cataphract, chalcedony, fuligin, hipparch, lazaret, monomachy, optimate, pelerine, psychopomp, quaesitor, thaumaturge, and uhlan. None of these terms are coined by Xutarch, but rather reflect his erudite love of obscure and archaic terms.

What they all share is an interest in the fate of Severian, for though he does understand this himself for much of his journey, he is destined to not only become Autarch but to serve as the augarch to the stars to determine if the dying red sun of Urth is worthy of being renewed in both a symbolic and literal sense, ushering in a New Sun and renewed era of humanity.

It is an outcome that is constantly alluded to but never fully explained, though Wolfe later explored this is more detail while still retaining much mystery in a companion coda called The Urth of the New Sun The religious symbolism of the story is both explicit and complicated.


And yet throughout the story, Severian himself is a naive and cifadel character, one who struggles first to set aside his training as a torturer and ghe, and later as a man fighting to understand his role as a possible bringer of redemption and resurrection to a corrupt and dying world.

This goes far beyond a Christian allegory such as C. This object seems capable of bringing the dead back to life and healing fatal wounds when Severian wields it, and is associated with autxrch Conciliator, a figure of the ancient past who is both Zutarch and may also have extra-terrestrial origins.

One could write a dissertation on interpreting the meanings of these stories as they relate to the overall themes of the book, and this effort is far beyond me, but Marc Aramini does discuss the implications of a number these stories in his book Between Light and Shadow: This literary device is equally vital to understanding the layers of meaning in his book Peace. The story is further complicated by the roles of Abaia, Erebus, and their servants the undines, underwater beings of great power that seem intent on conquering humanity, but at the same time provide aid fitadel Severian at times and may even benefit from the inundation of Urth if Severian is to succeed in bringing the New Sun.

We also have the even more inscrutable role of the Hierodules, alien beings from other worlds that reside on Urth and also take a keen autarcu in Severian and his path to becoming the Autarch. Despite their implied powers, they sometimes seem to indicate that they serve him, but this in never made entirely clear. They appear to have a connection with the current Autarch, but it is not apparent whether they cigadel Severian over his rule.

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Finally, there is the ambiguous role of the reigning Autarch himself, and his mysterious advisor Father Inire. They obviously wield great power, and if they were to decide Severian were a threat to them they could easily have him killed. Yet they instead appear in various guises in his adventures, never clearly his ally or enemy, always with opaque intentions and tantalizing comments.

Father Inire in particular seems to control the power to travel between the stars via the sinister power of mirrors and labyrinths an obvious nod to Jorge Luis Borgesbut does not demonstrate to what end he might use them. There are layers of meaning that remain obscure even after multiple readings, but it is clear that Wolfe has crafted a masterpiece that is worth the attempts to conquer it, a literary Mt.

Everest that every serious reader in the genre will be drawn to again and again, and there is much to be gained in each attempt, whether the peak is attained or not. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue.

She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Despite growing up in beautiful Hawaii, he spent most of his time reading as many SFF books as possible. WellsOlaf StapledonJ. TolkienMervyn Peakeetc. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. Winners are announced in the comments. Just so you know, some of the books we review are received free from publishers. Much of our site’s special functionality was coded by Zane Hooper.


Best of the Years Fun! A measuring rod for excellent fantasy literature. The Citadel of the Autarch: If you plan to buy this book, you can support FanLit by clicking on the book cover above and buying it and anything else at Amazon. It costs you nothing extra, but Amazon pays us a small referral fee. Click any book cover or this link. We use this income to keep the site running. It pays for website hosting, postage for giveaways, and bookmarks and t-shirts.

I hope Audible puts the sequels on audio. No plans for that so far, though. Cancel reply Or login to FanLit with: We have reviewed fantasy, science fiction and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films. Want to help us defray the cost of domains, hosting, software, and postage? We receive referral fees for all purchases not just books. Also, we earn referral fees when you click our sponsored ads.

Thank you for your support! Brings this trilogy to a merciful end by Email Anon 2. His characters are so over the top stereotypical they come across as comic book villains. He also reuses characters. And a reincarnated ‘s Gangster? He should have skipped the entire soul-reincarnation bit.

It’s frustrating because Hamilton creates incredible imaginative worlds that I want to spend […]. I’ve got to read this. I love his books, and his last trilogy was amazing. Thank you for reading my review, Marion! This series is the one that started my obsession with comic books. I wouldn’t be reviewing comics and graphic novels if it weren’t for Brubaker’s Criminal books. There are seven volumes total in the series so far.

All of them are top-notch.

Crown of Feathers was probably my favorite read of It doesn’t release until February, but I was fortunate enough to get an arc through work, and I loved it! If you’re missing some of citadl book cover images, please pause ad block. Current Giveaways Our favorite books of Giveaway!

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The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe

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