This is the second book in the series The Book of the New Sun. I liked it at about the same level as I liked the first. I was particularly wrapped up in the story for the first half or so, but my interest started to fade a little toward the end.
One of the sections near the end that I really had trouble getting through was the play. There’s a fairly large chapter in which we’re given the script for a play that is performed. I’ve never been crazy about reading things in that format to begin with, and it didn’t help that I wasn’t prepared for it and that I reached that point in the book last night when I was exhausted after my 19th straight day of work. I ended up putting the book down, going to sleep, and then backtracking a few pages to read the play from the beginning this morning. I was able to follow it better after some sleep, but I still didn’t particularly enjoy it.
One other thing that got on my nerves was Severian, the narrator, continually reminding the reader that he doesn’t forget anything. I wish he could just remember how many times he’s told us that and stop telling us! If the reader doesn’t understand the implications of this by now, they’re never going to, so please stop torturing the rest of us.
Really though, I did enjoy this book, despite a few annoyances. I particularly enjoyed one of the characters who was introduced near the end of the previous book and played a large role throughout much of this book. I’m hopeful we’ll learn more about him as the series progresses. There were some interesting hints and revelations about him throughout this book.
Things got really strange at the very end, so hopefully the next book will pick up with that and clear things up. However, the second book left a gap after the end of the first book and that gap is only vaguely filled in as the reader progresses through the second book, so I’m not particularly optimistic that I’ll get any quick answers. It’s an interesting series, though, with a pretty unique style.
The third book in this series, The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe.