This four-novel series follows Severian, an exile from the guild of The Seekers of Truth and Penitence (ie, torturers and executioners) as he pursues his picaresque and ultimately momentous destiny on an earth so far in the future the sun is burning out.
Severian’s adventures keep the reader cheerfully turning pages, and Wolfe seeds the novel with enough time-bending , past-is-future plot twists and vague mythological-theological themes to feed late-night bull sessions in college dorm rooms everywhere, but the real delight – and the major accomplishment – is in the details.
The plants, animals, machines, buildings, cities, humans, and aliens of The Book of the New Sun consistently enchant with their originality and strangeness. And by creating a decaying medieval society, mostly forgotten and abandoned by other humans who fled to the stars long ago, Wolfe smoothly unites fantasy and science fiction. Excellent, guilt-free reading for August.