Second Time Round the Book of the New Sun

Sometimes when you come back to a book for a second time it’s not quite as good as you originally thought. Not in the case of Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun. For me the second time round has been a fantastic experience so far. I’m 115 pages into my reading of the first book in the volume: the Shadow of the Torturer. I think this time I am taking more time to appreciate the fantastic quality of Wolfe’s writing. Whereas the first time round it was perhaps more of a struggle to keep a grasp on what was happening in the strange new world I was reading about, this second time I am slightly familiar and instead deepening my appreciation of it.
After reading The Book of the New Sun the first time I went on to read Peace
and The Fifth Head of Cerberus. I found this more accessible and just as good if not better than the New Sun. I was slightly concerned about returning to the world of Severian again, but I am glad I’m there. The symbolism and the language is more evocative and there are passages that I can’t believe I didn’t gasp in wonder at the first time round – for instance Severian’s visit to the gloomy library, like something straight out of Borges, was quite bizarre.
What’s your favourite Gene Wolfe book?

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