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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on May 11, 2016
Overall I enjoyed it. Haven't read book two yet so, remains to be seen as to what my overall opinion of this series will be. Which is why i'm here reading reviews...
Pros: Like everyone has said. Interesting main characters, situations and environment. I don't regret reading it at all.
Cons: Since I don't have a doctorate in English Literature I found I had to look up a lot of words. After about the 3rd time I just stopped doing that and kept reading regardless of the verbal expectorations. Its really the only annoying thing about book one i think.. book two remains to be seen but the reviews aren't promising.
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on April 24, 2016
If you like hard sci fi, this is your book. If not, don't bother. It is the kind of book that inhabits a world you want desperately to know more about, but refuses to show you anything.
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on September 5, 2015
Overall, it's alright. Certainly not a page turner. It takes a looooooong time to get into. I honestly had to force myself to read the whole thing and it took over a year to do (could only read a few pages at a time some times). I wasn't sure what was happening throughout the novel and even after I finished it, I had to read the wiki plot.

It starts off leading in one direction, and then goes all over the place. I realize that the author compiled it originally as separate works, but they really don't flow well together. He tries to bring in too many themes and too many sub plots and too many characters.

There are a lot of fantastically vivid, wild and imaginative concepts presented. My favourite part was just reading about strange characters and beings. It's certainly high fantasy (high high fantasy) and the writing style is absolutely incredible! I wish I could write as well as Wolfe, he has such a unique talent for words I haven't seen elsewhere.
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on August 2, 2015
Not for the faint of heart, Gene Wolfe will challenge the reader and reward the effort with an amazing series that has stayed with me for thirty years. Must Reread again and again.
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on January 20, 2013
Right off the bat I found it hard to get into the story. Didn't seem to have any kind of flow.
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on September 10, 2008
I don't have any credentials whatsoever - I don't have a degree, so this is going to be a plain-jane working man's review. I spent some hard earned money on this series so I feel compelled to read them - however much I don't want to.

The writing in the this novel is allegorical and thick. It reminds me of Gormenghast and Dahlgren (which was about the worst book I've ever tried to read) in it's prose, or maybe even James Joyce's Portrait of the artist as a young man.

The plot had a good premise but nothing in the novel is concrete - which I guess is OK if you want to ponder on what the whole thing means (if it does even have a meaning). All this would be forgivable (I've been reading Gardens of The Moon - the series which is fairly incomprehensible) if there was some action or story that was engaging.

As it is it's just a jumble of mythic allegory, dream sequences, sex, and violence.

This novel would be best catogorized if you took a Greek Myth, left the symbology intact, and had it narrarated in the first person.

I would say that if you like Kafka type novels you'd probably like it. If your looking for a novel that you can follow, identify with the characters, and share in a plot arc that lets the characters develop - this novel isn't for you.

In short : not bad but certainly not good reading either.
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on September 8, 2008
I purchased this book as a recommendation from a friend who enjoys the same genre of novels as I do. His initial description of this book was deceptive, however.

The world itself is interesting, and I very much liked the concept of a Torturer's guild, and the way it's presented. That being said, the plot seemed a bit thin to me, and the language used almost over-flowery at times. Wolfe seems to lose himself in his prose, and more than once I had to go back and sometimes reread a few pages, just to understand what had happened. The lines between science fiction and surrealism are blurred here, and I haven't read many books like this, which is why I have little appreciation for it.

An interesting book, yes. A classic? I'm not sure yet. I purchased both Shadow & Claw and Sword & Citadel, and I will read the other two books before I can judge the series accordingly. My advice: Try to find a sample of the prose before you purchase. If you find it difficult, it might be a better idea to borrow this from a library than purchase it cold, like I did. Of course, if that isn't a concern to you, then go for it! I don't regret the purchase, if only for the uniqueness of some of the ideas contained in these books.
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on July 12, 2004
This book is one of the most beautiful writings ever produced in the English language. It is not what I would call an accessible "storytelling" book; Stephen King is the master at writing such novels. This book is beautifully written and complex at every level, from each sentence to the whole story and every image and thought it creates in one's mind. It is also an unforgiving book -- nothing is really explained. But, the book rewards careful reading and re-reading. I enjoy it anew every time I read it. My son has read it several times since he was a teenager and has become enthralled. Without compromising, Wolfe is letting his central character tell a story that takes place in a culture and a physical environment far removed from our own. The reader must struggle to comprehend this alien landscape with only the unfamiliar and idiomatic, but still human, narrative of a single person from this other time in the far future.
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on June 24, 2004
I'm usually not too hip on the sci-fi/fantasy stuff, but this book is different. Great characters, and plenty of twists and turns. Finished it in a couple of days and i don't even really like to read.
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on June 8, 2004
This is the greatest, most intelligent modern work of fiction I have ever read. I dont profess that is necessarily benevolant, but it is what it is, and deserves recognition. To say it is well worwth the read, is an understatement.
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