Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Fiction Before the Rising Sun
‘The Revolutionary’
Impressions of Chapter 12 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer

Reading from pages 78-83 of Shadow & Claw

The Traitor

“The hope in her voice now made me think of a flower growing in shadow.”

When it comes time for the torment of Thecla it becomes obvious to the reader that the engine room of some ancient starship has been repurposed to support various devices for torture. The revolutionary is the most hideous, a machine that released the self-hating portion of a person’s psyche to make of their end a nightmare from within. The use of ancient electronics and rattletrap gismos for the devouring of souls in the bowls of a starship, marooned in the bowels of a dying civilization under a dying star is a masterpiece of understated horror.

In the linchpin scene of the entire four-volume saga, Severian becomes a sympathetic protagonist by betraying his inhuman guild and breaking his oath by giving Thecla a knife with which to commit suicide, sparing her the horror of tearing out her hair and eyes in her sleep.

Diction of note

-cataphracts, armored cavalry



-jade, slang for a mistress

The World is Our Widow

Add Comment