The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So now that all the big reveals have come through, plus a very nice one to redefine the rest of the series, I can officially say that I *like* this series instead of just sitting around being mystified and weirded out by it while wondering how to justify the traditional action events with the truly odd.
And now I know.
It's pretty awesome, but not quite up to the level of mindfuqery that I was prepared to expect based on all the multiple time-travel and memory-cannibalisms that we've been subjected to. I mean, it's been four whole novels of what appeared to be straightforward adventure before it got super weird, and I'm not even including the humaniform robots, the dying of the sun, the idea-form aliens, living gods or locations jettisoned out of the time-stream. As if those weren't quite enough, right?
Still, one has to be impressed by the almost Dune-like scope near the end, the complete and utter laying out of reveals, the expected solution for the sun, and of course, Severian's Fate. And those inside him, of course. :)
A word to the wise, for anyone contemplating taking on this admittedly daunting work: Read all four books straight through. It won't be as frustrating. Ignore Serverain's epilogue and stick with the tale.
And by all means, have faith that it comes together in the end, because it does.
I'm actually kind of tempted to do them all again to start really connecting the dots instead of just *thinking* that I'm connecting all the dots. :) It's an impressive work, but let me be perfectly honest... it's not the end-all of all SF. It's good, it's very literary in both the regular mainstream and classics as well as the SF field, but it's not quite the grand masterpiece I was led to believe it was.
Being able to incorporate so many other works inside a single adventure, however impressive, technically, is not the same thing as being a wild and fun read.
Although, I *DID* love the occasion for the marriage stories. Those were all pretty well brilliant and fun as hell. :)
I'm glad I made it through. :)
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