Gene Wolfe is an interesting breed of author when it comes to genre-fiction; he can move easily between the realms of pulp and high literature at a whim. Yet for the reader, understanding the intricacies of Wolfe’s writing can usually require a couple of rereads at the absolute minimum. This is why I adore The Book of the New Sun. It is a work of so many layers, intricacies, subplots, and branching paths of understanding. On the surface, it is a masterful execution of a hero’s journey across strange but entrancing worlds that blend far-futurism with the fantastical and mythological. Underneath, we delve into a prism of intrigue and distrust with the narrator, and how the things he left out explore further subplots of a world that revels in the past, present and future. Everything within the book is utilized to its fullest potential; every name, every person, every plot, scene, quote and action was created with the utmost awareness in mind. Nothing is without purpose. The prose is concise and poignant, yet seductive. It intends to lead you astray; monologues, interactions and even simple descriptions burst out into labyrinths of their own. By the end of the story, you catch a glimpse of what happened, but believe me when I say you barely scratched the surface.
I can understand if none of my novel picks have looked that tempting, but, if ever there were a time to heed my recommendations, this review would be that time. Read The Book of the New Sun. You will not regret it.