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▶  More from Fiction Book Reviews Before the Rising Sun
‘I Am To Some Degree Insane’
Impressions of Chapter 3 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer


Reading from Shadow & Claw pages 22-28

The Autarch’s Face

“Once the journeymen of our guild were deafened. Would you have those days again? Take your hands from your pockets when I speak to you, Severian.”

So was Severian, the hero scolded my his master, in the chapter in which the reader begins to suspect that the hero is so because he cheats the system of its due oppression that is life in Nessus every day, lying, hiding, hoarding and denying his true identity even as he cultivated it. Severian is alone in his age group and is of a tall caste, hence very probably the child of a purged aristocrat.

About the oppressive citadel the reader learns more:

“Just underground lies the examination room; beneath it, and thus outside the tower proper (for the examination room was the propulsion chamber of the original structure) …The lights of the oubliette are of the ancient kind that is sad to burn forever, though some have now gone out.”

Passages like that above subtly embed the feeling of lingering and unspent antiquity.

The nature of his guild’s art is presented as a kind of medical torment, with the master giving a clinic on the flaying of a maidservant’s leg. Severian’ very thin slice of society is dedicated to preserving its worse aspects. As Severian explores the product of one of his capers he is stricken with the miserable plight of the dissident, who, in a slave society dedicated to the upholding of prodigious and all-encompassing lies, must, in his search for truth, live a many-faced lie as he must present a false face to the edifice of madness which is civilization. Severian’s crisis was deep as he realized that the many lies he has lived and told had become, to some degree, him.

Diction of note

-orchalk, brass coin

-oubliette

-chrisos, gold coin

-citrine

-ophicleides, ceremonial device

-diatrymae, a gladiatorial beast

-coffles, unit of neck-chained slaves

-diamarchi, armored troopers

-eidolon

-obverse

Organa: The Malfunction of Tray Sorenson

https://www.amazon.com/Organa-Malfunction-Sorenson-James-LaFond/dp/1517439965/ref=sr_1_121?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511041923&sr=1-121&refinements=p_27%3AJames+LaFond

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