Book Review: Shadow of the Torturer


Hiya, everyone! Noreen here with a book review on “Shadow of the Torturer” by Gene Wolfe.

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk. 

This book came out of left field for me. I didn’t even knew it existed until my dad showed it to me. The books from the 80’s are much better than most of the stuff I’ve read nowadays. Like a lot of fantasy/sci-fi books of the time, it takes place in a futuristic world and the world is coming to an end, thanks to the dying sun. Unlike nowadays, the apocalyptic world cliche doesn’t seem ill-fitting at all. It’s written extremely well and overall fits.

The only character that I feel is actually worth discussing is the main character, Severian. Severain is an unreliable narrator, so you can’t tell if he is telling the truth or not. Yes it can be annoying, but interesting nonetheless. The fact the Wolfe used this character to tell his story is very impressive. Not all people like an unreliable narrator because it causes confusion, yet Wolfe did it anyways. Severain had his love interest, Thecla, of course. At one point, Thecla is being tortured and it becomes to much to bare, so Severain smuggles a knife into her cell so she can commit suicide. This whole event is definitely intense. It left readers wondering if there was a better way, which, unfortunately, there wasn’t. The pain was so immense that the only way to help Thecla was to get her out of this world. Do I think suicide is the right choice? No, but in the situation I can understand why it had to be done. This was a punch in the gut event that really sucked me in. It was dark yet filled with caring intention.

What I truly love about this book is the world. The Citadel being a bunch of dead space ships, the city of Nessus having walls to the clouds, a green moon that has been made to have forests on it and, of course, the Library of Master Utlan, that runs for thousands and thousands of miles. Sure, it sounds like it wouldn’t be too hard to think up, but the world in this book is absolutely amazing and purely creative.

Overall, this book is absolutely stunning. If you’re looking for an older fantasy/sci-fi book, this is most definitely the way to go. I have read many books that tried to do what this book did, and yet this is the only time that it truly worked. There is not more I can say other than you should read this book.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s book review. If you’ve read the book or you just have something to say, comment it down below (just be sure to mark your spoilers). Thanks for reading!


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