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‘My Mother Come Again’
Impressions of Chapter 25 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer

Reading from pages 153-158 of Shadow & Claw

The Inn of lost loves

Chapter 25 is a narrative linkage scene in which the game being played by Agia is partially exposed as she leads Severian to his death gladly even as she throws herself at him sexually. Severian comes to equate her with the witches as she works tenaciously towards his betrayal in an unroofed tree house, which serves as an inn for duelists and spectators in an area were roofed buildings are not permitted by municipal code.

The most magnificent facet of Nessus is now mistaken by Severian for a line of thunderclouds ahead, splitting the sky. His vicious and lovely guide revels in is naïve view of the world—ever the sign of a true malefactor—and informs him that the city wall, soaring black and hideous halfway to the void, is the very manmade thing he has mistaken for thunderclouds. His combat with the hipparch will take place in the long shadow of the monstrous edifice, which at once defends the indefensible and rises babel-like towards the once attainable stars.

Diction of note

-lechwes, a horned anima

-atroxes, an automated guardian?


The Consultant

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