The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun, Book 1)
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The Shadow of the Torturer is a science fiction novel by Gene Wolfe, first released in 1980. It is the first volume in the four-volume series, The Book of the New Sun. Wolfe completed the series (in draft form) before The Shadow of the Torturer was published.
It relates the story of Severian, an apprentice in the Seekers for Truth and Penitence (the guild of torturers), from his youth through his expulsion from the guild, and subsequent journey out of his home city of Nessus.
else—scooped a backdrop from the stage and began to wind it on its pole. Hethor vaulted up with unexpected agility to fold the set for the Inquisitor's chamber and reel in the projector wires. Dr. Talos turned to me as if to say, He's your responsibility after all, just as Baldanders is mine. "There are a good many of them," I told him. "They find pleasure in pain, and want to associate with us just as a normal man might want to be around Dorcas and Jolenta." The doctor nodded. "I wondered. One
supper to her. For a watch I remained with her, frequently observed through the slot in the cell door by Drotte. We played word games, at which she was far better than I, and after a while talked of those things those who have returned are said to say lie beyond death, she recounting what she had read in the smallest of the books I had brought her—not only the accepted views of the hierophants, but various eccentric and heretic theories. "When I am free," she said, "I shall found my own sect.
was much interested by all this, though my training prohibited me from gawking at it. With my hood drawn well over my head, and my eyes resolutely to the front, I passed among the crowd as if indifferent to it; but for a short time at least I felt my fatigue melt away, and my strides were, I think, the longer and swifter because I wanted to remain where I was. The guards in the bartizans were not city roundsmen but peltasts in half-armor, bearing transparent shields. I was almost at the western
hoping to find another door behind them, but as soon as she pulled one aside, one of the eight walls painted with labyrinths opened and Father Inire stepped out. Behind him she saw what she called a bottomless hole filled with light." "'There you are,' he said. 'You've come just in time. Child, the fish is nearly caught. You can watch the setting of the hook, and learn by what means his golden scales are to be meshed in our landing net.' He took her arm and led her into the octagonal enclosure."
I said, "You mentioned something about breakfast. Is there any food now? Dorcas and I are hungry." "Of course there is. I see Baldanders has just picked up a basket of yams." Several members of our erstwhile audience must have been farm people returning from a market with whatever produce they had been unable to sell. Besides the yams we had, eventually, a pair of squabs and several stalks of young sugar cane. There was not much bedding, but there was some, and Dr. Talos himself used none of