The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe (1982) 301 p.

The third volume in Gene Wolfe’s needlessly divided Book of the New Sun, The Sword of the Lictor begins with Severian the torturer and his companion Dorcas having established themselves in Thrax, the City of Windowless Rooms. Severian soon makes the same mistake he did in the first novel, showing mercy to a “client,” and is forced to flee once again.

Even more so than the previous two books, The Sword of the Lictor is a series of episodic adventures ranging across cities and mountains and jungles. Some are interesting, and some aren’t – one particularly good chapter involves Severian coming across a cabin in the mountains inhabited by a mother and her children, who are being menaced by a disturbing alien beast. Many seemingly unimportant things happen which, judging from the previous books, will turn out to be important later.

As I’ve said before, these are difficult books to review because they’re largely similar – it’s really just one long book split into quarters. The next book in the series, The Citadel of the Autarch, is the final, and I’ll reserve judgement on the series as a whole until I’ve read it.

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