Regular price: $24.05

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The Shadow of the Torturer is the first volume in the four-volume epic, the tale of a young Severian, an apprentice to the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession - showing mercy towards his victim.
Listen to more in the Book of the New Sun series.
©1980 Gene Wolfe; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The best science fiction novel of the last century." (Neil Gaiman)
  • World Fantasy Award, Best Novel, 1981
  • Favorite Audiobooks of 2010 (Fantasy Literature)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    540
  • 4 Stars
    377
  • 3 Stars
    289
  • 2 Stars
    150
  • 1 Stars
    136

Performance

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    541
  • 4 Stars
    318
  • 3 Stars
    162
  • 2 Stars
    62
  • 1 Stars
    68

Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    448
  • 4 Stars
    286
  • 3 Stars
    211
  • 2 Stars
    114
  • 1 Stars
    96
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very Intellectual, very not Actionful.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

If you like a good read with very little action.

Would you be willing to try another book from Gene Wolfe? Why or why not?

.......if I run out of books that move a bit faster yes.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I am not sure the book had pace, I thought it slept in the corner and woke up and shifted every now and then. The narrator did do a good job, although every now and then whispering and comments were to low to be clear when you listen the first time around.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

yes, because they would cut out some of the conversation that was just too much sometimes.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pam F
  • Forest, VA, United States
  • 03-20-10

A strange, strange, story.

Even though I listened all the way through, I never did figure out the purpose of the story. It was just too flat feeling. There was not enough information about the setting or background of the characters to help me connect with them or understand/empathize with their actions.

It was like reading the diary of someone from another planet. The protagonist's encounters where interesting and some were quite exciting. But the book just felt flat and unconnected.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Geert
  • Erpe-Mere, Belgium
  • 01-30-10

Morbid and slow

I am afraid I have to rate this as 'poor'. The narrating is fine. The story is ..euh next to non-existent for me. The main character is a morbid and cold young man, with a very twisted view on his world. Could have been a great scenario, but -for me- it wasn't at all. No one to identify with, no suspense in this very slow paced story, and a lot of superficial characters on the side. I will have to pass for the rest of the series.

6 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • JE
  • 07-21-17

No plot, great sci-fi, poor fantasy

What did you like best about The Shadow of the Torturer? What did you like least?

Gene Wolfe is a very good prose author and has an interesting dystopian future he wants to talks about.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

However, like so many sci-fi novels, it focus on the science and the society. Nothing really happens in book one. The book starts with the history of the main character's childhood but it serves merely to describe the future world. Once the main character is forced to leave the city, the book covers the events of basically 2-3 days of the encounters of the main character as he travels to the edge of the city. The book is entirely setup for the remaining books in the series.

What three words best describe Jonathan Davis’s voice?

The reader spoke clearly and was understandable, however the reader doesn't use character voices. Often you have no idea which character is speaking the dialog in the book as everything is read the same. It distracts from the story as you spend your time trying to determine who just said what.

Was The Shadow of the Torturer worth the listening time?

If you are a sci-fi fan then you will enjoy the story. You might like it better in book form as the dialog is less confusing that the single voice of the reader. If you are a fantasy reader, you will find this book frustrating as nothing really happens and characters aren't developed. Again I would probably read the book as you can skip over science and won't have the dialog issues.

Any additional comments?

I remember enjoy this series more when it first came out. in 1980. I am assuming that was the contents of the later books in the series, as the first audiobook left me feeling rather flat.<br/><br/>One interesting note, when we meet Dr. Talos and the giant, it reminds me of the Princess Bride. I wonder if Gene Wolfe read the Princess Bride back in the 70s and wanted similar characters in his book. Probably not but its fun to compare both.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Narrator never been worse

The story is absolutely ruined by dull performance.
I can't continue after five minutes of endurance.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Shadow of the Torturer

The writing was too complicated. It was like a different language almost. It went back and forth from present to past, from present to the setting, and from present to past thoughts to present thoughts and back to the present again. Sheesh, I could not enjoy this book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Dramatic Pauses

I listened at 1.25 time speed because of the actors over use of dramatic pauses.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Abysmal Mess

Would you try another book from Gene Wolfe and/or Jonathan Davis?

I can't say I would ever pull a Gene Wolfe book again. Jonathan Davis whispered way too much for me to hear anything. Honestly, give the sound clip a shot.

Would you ever listen to anything by Gene Wolfe again?

I just don't get the fascination with Gene Wolfe. Agreed the novel is not for everyone, but it really requires the reader/listen to work... and not in a fun way.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jonathan Davis’s performances?

I will never listen to Jonathan Davis again. He has good range but choose to whisper and destroy all voices. Maybe because it was a first person narrative. Either way, it was horrible.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I was angry at myself for being stubborn and not just getting a refund. I said, "oh no, it's me. People love this guy, it must get better." Wrong wrong wrong.

Any additional comments?

There is a reason no one mentions what the story is like in their reviews. First part is Severian leaving the guild (mildly entertaining). The second part is his travels up North (muddled mess). The ending follows suite with a bunch of circus nonsense. Honestly, billed as Sci-Fi... he rides a horse with a sword. No space, no ships, no lasers...

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Andrew
  • FAIR OAKS, CA, United States
  • 01-08-15

The Start of Something

Any additional comments?

Well this was interesting, it's the first 1/4 of a novel and just the beginning, so it's hard for me to really know if is will be a good story or not, it is literally the start of the story with nothing ending, no other way to explain it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jaime
  • New Westminster, BC, Canada
  • 07-13-14

Awful!!!

It is possible the book is a good one but the narration was so bad I couldn't finish it and I couldn't even get into it.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful