The Book of the New Sun Vol 3 - The Sword of the Lictor

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The Book of the New Sun Vol 3 - The Sword of the Lictor

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Aug. 8, 2008, 5:07pm

Please use this thread to discuss The Sword of the Lictor.

Aug. 23, 2008, 11:30am

Started on this one today. As I'm halfway through, a remark on female characters: Wolfe's depiction and use of them is more or less disgusting, and consistently so.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 26, 2008, 11:57am

I started to enjoy this. Something is beginning to emerge from under the medieval-ish fog; only don't ask me what it is yet.

Aug. 30, 2008, 1:21pm

#2 strong agreement. Of course, it is the memoir of a horny teenager who was raised in a quasi-monastic guild and had never had a relationship with a woman he wasn't paying to have sex with him. Unfortunately, though, I'd say it's a pretty persistent issue with Wolfe.

#3 great image!

Sept. 2, 2008, 11:32am

had never had a relationship with a woman he wasn't paying to have sex with him.

I guess you too missed the fact that he DID sleep with Tecla! He casually discloses this in #3, something about "the many occasions when he entered her"...

I finished this and started on #4 a few days ago, only a couple chapters.

Sept. 2, 2008, 9:51pm

Didn't miss it; it's just been too long and I wrote too quickly and forgot about it. Now that I think of it, I believe he said he never went back to the House Azure.

Let's see: the false Thecla, the real Thecla, Dorcas, Jolenta, Cyriaca, Pia... three more and we can have the muses, or the norns.

Sept. 3, 2008, 2:10am

#5 He actually mentions it in 2. I thought he hadn't and that was one of the mistakes in the letter Agia wrote purporting to be from Thecla. But he later reminisces about lying beside Thecla in her cell.

Sept. 3, 2008, 5:14pm

Oh dear. This one opens with a bloody great info dump. Not to mention the scene with Severian standing atop Ascies Castle, so he can describe the city.

Bearbeitet: Sept. 4, 2008, 3:48am

The Sword of the Lictor is proving the weakest so far. Nothing actually happens until about 70 pages in (in my edition), and there's a lot of Severian telling the reader things, and other characters telling Severian things. Cyriaca's story, for example, is clearly a retelling of Pandora's box - although the "invisible companion" bit is a little puzzling. Some sort of implant?

Bearbeitet: Sept. 9, 2008, 2:18am

Why does Wolfe kill Little Severian? I can't see any real point in it.

Oh, and for those who claim Big Severian does not agonise over his job as torturer - in the scene in Baldanders laboratory, he sees an eviscerated woman and expressly notes that it is a sight which would not have bothered him in the past. And yes, I don't understand either why women appear to be victims more often than men in the books.

Sept. 9, 2008, 3:05am


Perhaps because Severian takes more notice of tortured women then tortured men? He seems more sympathetic to women victims than male victims.

Sept. 9, 2008, 4:06am

That's a possibility. Although I can't remember that many male torture victims specifically mentioned in the books. Most are off-screen - he hears their screams, or he knows of them - but I can't recall any he actually names.

Sept. 9, 2008, 4:51am

Isn't the death of Little Sev just representing the death of big Sev's spiritually immature self? Also it helps, in addition to the enforced fasting, to bring him mentally to a point at which Typhon had a chance at successfully tempting him.

Sept. 9, 2008, 5:24am

I hadn't considered Little Severian as a metaphor for Big Severian's immaturity. Seems a somewhat heavy-handed way to do it - outgrowing your inner child by, well, zapping a child companion to a crisp.

The enforced fasting clearly echoes Christ's forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. Which would make Typhon the Devil. Even the three temptations match:

* the Devil offers Jesus the world - Typhon offers Severian the world (to be ruled in Typhon's name, while Typhon rules other worlds)
* the Devil offers to make bread out of stones - Typhon asks for the Claw in return for food
* relying on angels to break his fall when Jesus jumps from a pinnacle - Typhon hangs Severian from the eye but does not let him go

OTOH, I don't recall Christ losing a companion through violent means before he wandered in the wilderness. But then I've never actually read the Bible...

Sept. 9, 2008, 6:18am

Well I have not read the Bible much either.

I think the issue is that somewhere along the line Little Severian has to be done away with. I'm not sure that it could be at the hands of the bear-like creatures (or men with claws like a bear) - bear-like creatures (and bear-like men) appear all through tBotNS and are defeated by Severian at every stage.

Sept. 9, 2008, 11:48am

yeah, the bear images seem to be thresholds through which Sev must pass. There's one in Urth too, if I remember correctly.

Before we think about why to kill little Severian, I wonder why he's there at all. Is he giving Big Sev the opportunity to experience a taste of fatherhood? Is this a step on the way to being fit to rule? Big Sev has rescued him from the alzabo, whose byproducts enable Severian to assimilate other personalities; is that significant? The whole business with little Severian's family is odd: the mentions of the artist Fechin seem to link it back to Rudesind the curator, but I have no idea what such a connection might signify.

I think Andy is right that little Severian must be disposed of somehow. Having his death awaken Typhon moves the story along; I don't see any other special significance to it.

Sept. 14, 2008, 4:34am

When I read that, I thought little Severian might be a sustained lie by the narrator to make the narrator look better to his readers.

Sept. 26, 2008, 1:51am

Finished book three.

Certainly, the book had it's moments, but I think that a lot of it could have been cut out - I am not interested in what mountains look like, nor am I interested in Severian's ponderings about religion, which I find either non-sensical or far too simplistic to be worth consideration.

Sept. 30, 2008, 12:15am

I just finished book 3, too. I thought maybe Little Severian was there to help Big Severian transition from torturer to leader. But I am not really sure. I hated that he was killed off like that. I found the end interesting. I am still trying to figure out Baldanders.