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Urth: Book of the New Sun

The Shadow of the Torturer

Written By:Gene Wolfe - 1980

  • The Shadow of the Torturer  - Gene Wolfe cover


Severian was born into the ancient guild sworn to torture and kill on command. His is a story of a time so many millions of years hence, that all present time is forgotten.

It is a tale of a Torturer, fallen victim to love and made to wander through a world where magic and science are one.


"The best science fiction I've read in years" —Ursula K. LeGuin

World fantasy award winner, Best novel of the year!

"Science fantasy on a par with the best of Le Guin or Moorcock... a classic!" —Thomas M. Disch

"Gene Wolfe is a literary magician... Wolfe's fabulous future universe is the classic stuff of sword and sorcery." —Jack Williamson

"He can make you gasp, guffaw, weep, ponder, and rejoice virtually within the space of a single paragraph... Adventure, pain, laughter, heartbreak. And... that literary rarity, wisdom." —Michael Bishop

"Gene Wolfe is engaged in the holy chore of writing every other author under the table. He is no less than one of the finest, most original writers in the world today. His work is singular, hypnotizing, startlingly above comparison. The Shadow of the Torturer breaks new ground in American literature and, as the first novel of a tetralogy, casts a fierce light on what will certainly be a lodestone landmark, his most stunning work to date. It is often said, but never more surely than this time: This book is not to be missed at peril of one's intellectual enrichment." —Harlan Ellison

"Full of marvels, wonders, strange terrors and delights... You have never read anything like it before, and no one but Gene Wolfe could possibly have written it... it may well turn out to be the standard to which all subsequent science-fantasy books of the eighties are compared, just as Tolkien's Ring trilogy was the standard for the sixties and seventies." —Gardner Dozois




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