So I downloaded the Tor.com ebook selection, Shadow and Claw. I don’t know when I have struggled so much with a book! I kept wanting to put it down. But I kept going, thinking that he had to get to the story eventually. Finally, I finished the first part of it, The Shadow of the Torturer. And again, I debated whether or not I wanted to continue.
I picked it up to start the second part, The Claw of the Conciliator and was immediately back to wondering why I was trying so hard to read it. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. At least not for me. I will keep trying, but I am not at all convinced that I will eventually finish it. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.
I know that I should like the book. It won awards. Amazon is full of praise for the book.
“Arguably the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced [is] the four-volume Book of the New Sun.” – Chicago Sun Times
“The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within . . . once into it, there is no stopping.”–The New York Times Book Review
So what is it that doesn’t work for me? I am not sure, even after half the book. When I read the NYT blurb above, I think it must be the Spenserian allegory that doesn’t appeal to me. And maybe I am not catching the satire. I am not sure. I think, mainly, it is that the story is almost lost in all that other stuff. At least that seems to me to be the problem. If I had to tell you what the book was about, other than saying it is about a torturer who is exiled from the Torturer’s Guild, I wouldn’t have much to tell you. It’s too convoluted for me to say anything coherent.
I think that this is just not my kind of fantasy. I am, as I have mentioned before, a new reader of fantasy. And this is maybe just too hard core for me. But I have a feeling that I will continue to pick it up and pick away at it until I finally finish the book. I wonder if I’ll feel any differently then. I hope so!