This is the final book of the main series of the Book of the New Sun, as told in this volume and three others. Like the previous ones, this one is presented as a kind of found-text in a foreign language and translated by Gene Wolfe. That framing device works as far as you’re not too interested in how a book that supposedly takes place 1,000,000 years into the Earth’s future is found and translated by a contemporary writer. Maybe like a timeloop or something.
So like the previous ones, I find this one to be a monumentally and technically brilliant piece of writing, but not all that much fun to read. Partly this is because of the opaqueness and partly because of the staid and stilted prose, and also partly because of some of the ways the novel feels episodic at times and flows in an odd pacing.
That all said, I do think it’s quite good, and because I have access to an audiobook version of the sequel I will continue to the last follow up novel. I don’t think I could keep reading though.
So what I did find really curious and interesting as the final book shapes up is how much this book feels…not quite fatalistic in its plotting, but more of this being like a memoir from the character, and with the sense that most of the readers would already have a sense of the world, the timeline, the historical record, and the basic details of the life being narrated. This does in fact make it fascinating in the way that pretty basic stuff about the world of the novel is NOT explained very much in detail at all or taken for granted. This requires quite a bit of writerly discipline and patience, which I can respect.