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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
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Performance

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A start of a confusing series

Any additional comments?

This is not the worse book I've heard, but it lacks so many elements that make a story good. There's no clear direction of where it's going. It gives these fantastical scenarios without explaining anything about them. The listener is left to try and puzzle things out long after the book is done, and it's not such a happy task. It leaves far too much to interpretation and then it ends abruptly.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • Woodstock, GA, United States
  • 11-05-13

Not very exciting

While the auther writes extremely well, the story is very slow moving and morose. I just wanted the book to end.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • TimO
  • apalachin, NY, United States
  • 04-21-13

One of the worst in ten years of listening

What disappointed you about The Shadow of the Torturer?

Story lacked little to keep a reader interested. A non - fiction autobiography would have been more interesting.

What a waste of a credit!!!

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narration was the only good thing about this book

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Hopefully the story is better than the narrator

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

If Jonathan Davis is doing the narrating, I will stay away from it unless the reviews are off the charts. The whispering drove me to shut it off after about an hour.

What was most disappointing about Gene Wolfe’s story?

From the hour that I listened to, there was nothing driving me to keep going. Some of the reviews I read said it was a great story, started slow, but the narrator's style turned me off.

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

Probably not. Next time I will listen to samples before I buy, his monotone whispering voice just didn't do it for me, BUT then again, I just came off of listening all 5 books of A Song of Ice and Fire read by the mighty Roy Dotrice.

Any additional comments?

My opinion is to stay away from this. Might give it a shot another time or check out the print version.

2 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Matthew
  • Eugene, OR, United States
  • 07-18-10

The last book I'll let Jonathan Davis ruin for me

The book is good, the narration, and production, is ruinously bad. You probably won't even notice just how bad it is until you're on your second or third book narrated by Mr. Davis.

Male characters (Book of the New Sun series, The Sprawl Trilogy, The Windup Girl): Despite the context all male main characters are presented as rough, deliberate, and slightly depressive. It's not so bad really, until you hear how Mr. Davis represents female characters.

Female characters: If you were reading Shadow of the Torturer you'd expect Agia to be a sweet, perhaps lively, spitfire; that's how your mind would naturally present her. Mr. Davis presents her and all main female characters as so subdued that you're afraid the female will throw herself off a cliff or cut her wrists at the nearest convenience. It's not just the tone used, but also the speed at which their dialog is read which must be at least half the speed of the normal dialog flow. It's maddening.

It's not just the depressive, suicidal, main characters it's also the flow of the dialog itself that is entirely counter to the natural way any given person would read a book. Naturally a reader will speed up as climactic events unfold. Jonathan's narration is so dull and deliberate, regardless of climactic context, you could use it to calibrate a metronome. And if you want that metronome at half speed, find some female dialog.

To the producers: Don't have ANY music playing by the time the book starts, don't have ANY music playing BEFORE THE BOOK ENDS. Those two times are the most critical, and yet the production team of this audiobook thought it would be a good idea to ruin both the introduction and the end of the book with nonsensical music. I didn't want to know the book was about to end.

Authors: If you have some good sci-fi or fantasy that you want totally ruined, hire these producers and Jonathan Davis again.

Listeners: Buy the paperback.

3 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Cori
  • TELLICO PLAINS, TN, United States
  • 02-01-12

This book was Torture to listen to!

This book had potential. Everything fell terribly short for me. The storyline was flat. The way the narrator s l o w l y read each line in a whisper was beyond annoying. There was no connection with the characters. Usually when I listen or read a book not to my liking, I'm generally interested in the characters enough that I want to finish the story. I could care less what happened to....what were there names again? Like I said, Torture! I waisted my money.

2 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

This book is terrible. Don't buy it.

What disappointed you about The Shadow of the Torturer?

Terrible story, impossible to follow. It will not grab your attention.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not the second book in the series. I couldn't even finish this book.

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

The reader is good. The story is terrible.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Geoff
  • Newmarket, ON, Canada
  • 07-05-11

Experiment is dangerous

Took a chance on Wolfe, whom I'd never heard of, and regret it. Life is too short for art this long and devoid of incident. Wolfe's highly regarded verbal inventiveness quickly feels gimmicky and is not enough to redeem a tale I plodded through. The narration was no help.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 06-24-11

excructatingly dull read

Based on the opposing reviews of this book, it seems that this may appeal to some folks. I gave it way too many hours and cannot see the any bright spots. I dare to say this may be one of the worst books i have bought on Audible. Do your research before you buy. I wish Audible did refunds

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Adnan
  • Chula Vista, CA, United States
  • 12-23-10

Torturer, Philosopher

He is too young to have a thought process such as written. Overall, i was mildly entertain and thus 3 stars. Perhaps it was the narrator, but i did not find book to be very engaging.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful