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▶  More from Fiction Book Reviews Before the Rising Sun
‘To the Renascent Stars’
Impressions of Chapter 26 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer
Reading from pages 159-163 of Shadow & Claw
The plot strands intertwine as Severian stands between two women, the brutal tradition of the duel and his own needling curiosity. Not often is a hero offered up on the fantasy stage who is so curious that he is an irritation to those in his life. For the reader this is an endearing quality, despite the fact that he seldom asks his questions of people with full possession of the answers. But for his fellow fictive characters one feels some pity.
Duels take place in the shadow of the great wall between the trumpets blaring that signals the closing of the gates and the tattoo, when true night has fallen and the ailing sun has sunk beyond the horizon. The chaos of the many morbid pageants with various dueling devices assails Severian as he hurries to the fateful place and yet takes time to gawk at the world that dwarfs his struggle so:
“ that moment when lengthening shadows cease to be shadows at all and become instead pools of blackness, as if some fluid darker even than the waters of the Lake of Birds was rising from the ground. Hundreds of people, some alone, some in small groups, were hurrying over the grass from the direction of the city. All seemed intent, bowed by an eagerness they carried upon their back and shoulders like a pack.”
Never has the myopic banality, the thirst for vicarious experience sluggishly beating in the rented heart of the sports fan been more concisely depicted in prose.
Severian than speaks to the reader more directly, a reader understood to be a man, discussing the aggression motivating call of two female prototypes, the wicked woman who demands to be mastered, and the good woman who deserves sacrifice, embodied by the increasingly vicious and alluring Agia and the inexplicably loyal Dorcas.
Diction of interest
Poet: The Enlightened Fate of Akbar Qama
prev:  ‘My Mother Come Again’     ‹  before the rising sun  ›     next:  ‘The Sanguinary Field’
supplicant song
den of the ender
the gods of boxing
logic of force
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