Sword and Citadel picks up after the events of Shadow and Claw with Severian as the justice of the city of Thrax. Soon however, he is not capable of doing his job and becomes an outlaw. He heads North to the war front to set the stage for his final confrontation with the Autarch and his destiny.
I kept putting off this review, not because I didn’t think the book was good, but because I found it hard to articulate my thoughts on it. It’s very much like the first two books in the Book of the New Sun where Severian chronicles more of his journey toward his destiny. I didn’t have too much trouble figuring out the main plot elements of the story though I don’t fully understand what it all means.
Wolfe’s take on destiny in this story is certainly an interesting one. Someone noted to me how interesting it is that just about everything that happens in the story happens to Severian. The character is very passive and almost exclusively reacts to events rather than taking an active role himself. Frankly, I am uncertain if either the unreliability of the narrator or the cosmological angle revealed towards the end is intended to have any part in this or not. I guess I’ll have to read the sequel, The Urth of the New Sun.
It’s extremely hard for me to explain this book. It’s certainly a lot more cerebral than other science fiction and fantasy. It tries to make you think. I liked this well-written book, but I found I don’t enjoy it the same way as I would others. Recommended, but not for everyone.