The Shadow of the Torturer

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The Shadow of the Torturer

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des. 20, 2012, 3:06 pm

I'm working my way through The Shadow of the Torturer. Some of the strange words describing alien things are distracting, otherwise
an interesting fantasy. Not your basic action fantasy. More character driven? Any opinions?

Editat: des. 20, 2012, 4:32 pm

I read it about twenty years gone, and I've been intending a re-read, but my TBR queue is pretty forbidding right now. I like Wolfe quite a bit, and he's been a contributor to the explicitly weird and Lovecraftian stream. I nominated his story "The Lord of the Land" for the Deep Ones at this time a year ago.

The most recent book of his that I read was the rather experiemental SF piece The Fifth Head of Cerberus (here's my review).

des. 20, 2012, 3:55 pm

> 1

Wolfe's strange words are worth looking up. He did not actually invent them: most have Greek roots.

des. 20, 2012, 4:10 pm

It's one of the very few novels I've re-read in adulthood. What stronger recommendation could I give?

Editat: des. 20, 2012, 4:30 pm

I was disappointed overall, but liked the premise and the first book enough that I can be persuaded to read more of Wolfe. But like paradoxosalpha wrote: TBR list is daunting, there's a barrier to entry for any new entrants.

My review of the first book here:

des. 20, 2012, 5:43 pm

I'm finishing the last few pages now. It's kept me interested but not dedicated to continue. Mt TBR calls.

Editat: des. 20, 2012, 7:37 pm

>5 elenchus: When I posted reviews of the omnibus editions on Amazon (also at LT at and ) I actually got some astonished comments that I didn't like it.

It's not that I don't appreciate some of what Wolfe did -- the odd vocabulary which he didn't actually invent, just dusted off; the far future settings with artifacts from our world, the convuluted plot, and, most importantly of all, making an honest to goodness torturer the protagonist.

What I didn't appreciate was the nested fables and stories -- particularly in the second half. And, yes, Wolfe, was retooling a basic plot of heroic fantasy but that doesn't mean I want to read another version of young-man-turns-out-to-be-savior-of-his-people plot (as I understood it).

It also helps if you like literary works that are puzzles. My tolerance for them is a bit quixotic.

I find carpentermt a pretty reliable guide to Cthulhu related stuff, and he was not impressed by Wolfe's latest foray into the mythos:

des. 20, 2012, 8:34 pm

> 7

I agree with your estimation of carpentermt, and I have to say I'm pretty shocked at his description of An Evil Guest because it sounds so remote from any Wolfe I've read.

I do like metafiction and over-the-top nested fables and stories (Irwin's The Arabian Nightmare is one of my favorite books), and that's one of the attractions in a re-read of the Book of the New Sun for me. But I've seen Wolfe fall short before. The Devil in a Forest was sufficiently middling that I didn't bother to keep my copy. And while I liked his contribution to Swords and Dark Magic okay, I didn't think it was one of the lights of the volume.

des. 20, 2012, 10:34 pm

I found RandyStafford's review of the first half to match my experience, and am persuaded his review of the second half is a suitable substitute for reading it myself.

I am curious to hear about other Wolfe titles that readers here found stronger, and I'll peruse the reviews listed in the posts above.