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▶  More from Fiction Before the Rising Sun
‘The Perfect Master’
Impressions of Chapter 10 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer
Reading from pages 67-72 of Shadow & Claw
The Last Year
“He had smiled, and because there had been nothing but friendship in his smile it had frightened me.”
So Severian muses uncomfortably as to the nature of the pimp at the brothel, an approving personality who haunts him forever due to his friendly nature, nicely indicting the character of most of those who inhabit this dying world as they scramble to outdo one another beneath their ailing sun.
The client, Thecla, the imperial whore in waiting, discusses the Autarchy with Severian, arming him with some grasp of the outside would he is about to collide with in her cause. As he brings the doomed lady flowers it is obvious that he will compromise the guild he was raised in for her sake.
Severian’s natural loyalty comes into conflict with his oaths to the abstract hierarchy of which he is a slave as his two masters’ demand that, upon his coming of age as a journeyman, he pledge loyalty to the guild. Below are some of Severian’s reservations, which many a modern person must be able to identify with:
“Still, it seemed incredible that my profession of loyalty, made in rags, could be taken seriously; yet it was.”
“…outside the walls of our tower. But I could not imagine that I could ever have a place in it, Faced with a choice between slavery and the emptiness of freedom…”
“And they swore me to never reveal it save—as they did—to one about to enter upon the mysteries of the guild. I have since broken that oath, as I have many others.”
Severian’s pending elevation, as appreciated by the inner person just as afraid of individually uncertainty as he is unsatisfied with hierarchal certainty, is starkly drawn by the author.
Diction of note
-Kafilas, bandits
Easy Chair and Other Stories: Humorous Reader Generated Fiction
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