The third book of the series and this is probably the one that I most enjoyed so far because it was somewhat looser in its narration and storytelling and more confident in the story itself.
Severian and Dorcas are now setting off on a kind of new adventure, having finally dispatched the previous quests, and we are seeing a kind of return or a turning back to the beginning as the story is looping back to where we began. I foolishly looked at the premise of the fifth book (a standalone sequel published years on) so I know where we’re headed ultimately.
So this book also really highlights and gives me the opportunity to talk about how silly and staid and stiff all these books are. They’re written in a very stilted language and while this is completely supported by narrative choices–for example, the text we’re reading is a found text (apparently found by one Gene Wolfe) we are to understand that it’s been translated into contemporary English and this provides some understanding for this style. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel over the top in this approach. So while I am reading it, I am also kind of reeling for how serious it takes itself. And it should take itself seriously, as it’s a deeply violent and severe story in a deeply violent and severe world, but still it’s a little silly. But I must persist because I bought all the books and feel compelled to know where we’re headed.