Urth of the New Sun...what'd you think?

I just finished it recently and I didn’t think it was nearly as good as the Book of the New Sun. Maybe Gene Wolfe tried to cram too much in too little space or he just jumped from situation to situation too quickly at times. I didn’t particularly like this book and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his.
Anyone who’s read it…did you like it? If so, did it match up to Book of the New Sun?

I liked it, but not as well as the previous books in the Book of the New Sun.

One thing it suffered from was less subtlety. Wolfe in general, and BotNS specifically, has a lot of hidden interconnections that reward rereading. Urth has less so; and further, it explains some of the ones from BotNS. This takes some of the fun out of the work.

Also, since Severian becomes a godlike immortal in this book, there is a lot less tension and suspense because of that.

On the other hand, the book has some good points. Because of his time travelling, we get to see some history of his Commonwealth. Also, it’s a very interesting picture Wolfe gets to paint of interstellar travel, and twin universes. Here we see the real horror of what happens to the planet when you try to save the sun.

And the book still has its share of twists, even if it doesn’t quite reach the level of the previous books. (Notably Tzadkiel).

It’s an entertaining book, but as an ending or cap to the series, it’s weak. And it doesn’t stand alone very well (IMO), so it can really only be seen as an ending to the series.

I’ll be re-reading this book in a while. I’m currently re-reading the tetrology (sp?). When I get to the Coda I’ll give this thread a bump. My recollection is that it wasn’t as good as the Book of the New Sun, but it was still interesting, and I liked that we saw what space travel was like in that universe. Even Wolfe’s failures are more interesting than many writer’s successes, IMO.


Which makes me hesitant to call any of his works a “failure”.

Good point. “Failure” isn’t the word I should have used. Maybe “lesser works” would have been better.

I dunno…like everyone else here, I found UotNS a distinctly lesser work than the brilliant tetralogy, but still very good. OTOH, I eventually gave up on the Long Sun series that followed.

I recently finished rereading the Long Sun and Short Sun series. He’s written it in a very different style, so I could see someone who liked the New Sun getting bogged down in them. For one thing, there is a lot of talking in them. A lot of talking. And perhaps that’s intentional, since the main character is a priest. Paying attention this time, it dawned on me that the first 3 books cover maybe a day or two each in time (the fourth covers more time). So the books can certainly seem slow-moving and dialogue-heavy.

Still, there are a lot of details and subtleties in the text here also, and it rewards rereading very well. I liked this series much better than Urth.

(Actually, many years ago when I first read this, I was still playing a lot of rpgs, and thought “Wow, a rationale for a cleric/thief character”.)