A work that subverts, elevates and transcends its genre, Gene Wolfe’s fantasy epic tells the story of Severian, a young torturer who falls in love with one of his victims. His punishment for allowing her a quick death, rather than a brutally slow demise, is exile to a distant city, but his arduous journey is fraught with danger, magic and questions about his destiny.
This spectacular new collector’s edition of Wolfe’s multi-award-winning work features a powerful introduction by Neil Gaiman, which attests to the author’s literary prowess and enduring influence on the genre: ‘The more deeply you delve into The Book of the New Sun, the more it will repay the delving.' Celebrated artist Sam Weber was commissioned to illustrate the work – a labour of love that took the best part of a year to complete and four colour illustrations in each volume, two of which are double-page spreads, twelve original black-and-white illustrations and binding designs, for each of the four books that comprise this epic story, which form the front and back bindings of this two-volume edition. The two-colour text includes decorative chapter initials based on an ancient script adapted by Weber to incorporate symbolic references to the story; a fitting tribute to a literary legacy that will stun generations to come.
Quarter-bound in blocked cloth with printed paper sides Set in Jenson with Priori Serif display 1160 pages in total 8 colour illustrations, including 4 double-page spreads, 12 black & white illustrations in total Decorative capital letters drawn by Sam Weber Printed in black & red Coloured tops Blocked slipcase 10” x 6¾”
Sam Weber and Neil Gaiman’s contributions
Describing The Book of the New Sun project as ‘a dream come true’, award-winning illustrator Sam Weber relished the opportunity to illustrate writing that was ‘so nuanced, rich and mysterious’. Weber’s love for, and deep connection with, the work is evident in the detail and intimacy of his illustrations, where every component – from the decorative initials to the muted palette of the colour illustrations – nods to the complexity of the novel. Weber throws light and shadow onto a haunted world and adds another layer of meaning to this already multifaceted work.
‘Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work. It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives’
Neil Gaiman, from his introduction
While Weber’s artwork enriches the reading experience, Neil Gaiman’s exclusive Folio introduction reiterates Wolfe’s literary prowess. This towering achievement is a legacy that readers of fantasy, readers of science fiction, and readers, full stop, will continue to appreciate for generations to come.
‘The books are chests full of wonders; full of images like jewels, of words a reader can get drunk on, of people and incidents that will linger long in memory’
George R. R. Martin
Gene Wolfe’s own definition of a great story was ‘one that can be read with pleasure by a cultivated reader and reread with increasing pleasure’, and The Book of the New Sun encapsulates that vision. It is both an epic novel and a puzzle; a labyrinth that readers gladly lose themselves in again and again, chasing down each clue and revelation. It brims with allusion and playful language, using the archetypes of fantasy and science fiction to tell a deep, complex story – a challenging read, but one that rewards endlessly. Each of the four stories has won awards, including the Nebula, the Locus and the British Fantasy Award, and Wolfe himself was presented with the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1996.
A science-fiction masterpiece
‘A masterpiece. Gene Wolfe is a wizard, a torturer, frightening, delightful. Beware! This is magic stuff!’
Ursula K. Le Guin
Severian, a young torturer just learning his trade, makes the mistake of falling in love with one of his victims. Unable to bear the sight of her pain, he offers his love the mercy of a sharp blade, and for his crime he is exiled from his home. Ordered to travel to the distant city of Thrax and take up the position of Executioner, Severian sets off, but the journey will be longer and stranger than he can imagine. While on the road he meets new friends, makes enemies and discovers a strange jewel that seems to command power over life and death – a power that others will kill to obtain. And when a series of dangerous revelations about his dying world are revealed, Severian is forced to question the very nature of existence, and his own shadowy destiny.
ABOUT GENE WOLFE
Gene Wolfe was born in New York City in 1931. He attended high school and college in Texas and it was during his time at high school that he published his first piece of fiction. Wolfe was drafted to fight in the Korean War, studied for a degree, worked as an industrial engineer and later as an editor. Although he had some success with his early writing, he didn’t find acclaim until he was in his forties, and only took to writing full-time when he retired. He wrote more than 30 novels, including the critically acclaimed The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972), and the ‘Soldier of the Mist’ and ‘Wizard Knight’ series of books. However, it was the four novels of the ‘Book of the New Sun’ series that Wolfe will be best remembered for. He died at his home in Illinois in 2019 at the age of 87.
ABOUT SAM WEBER
Sam Weber was born in Alaska, and grew up in Deep River, Ontario, Canada. After attending Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Sam moved to New York to pursue illustration and attend graduate school at The School of Visual Arts. His work for The Folio Society includes Lord of the Flies (2009), Fahrenheit 451 (2001) and Dune (2015), the latter of which became one of the most sought-after titles Folio has ever published. Weber spent almost a year working on his extraordinary artwork for The Book of the New Sun.
ABOUT NEIL GAIMAN
Neil Gaiman is a critically acclaimed writer of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His many notable works include the groundbreaking series Sandman (the first comic book to win a literary award, the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story), and the novels Good Omens (1990, in collaboration with Terry Pratchett), Stardust (1999), American Gods (2001, The Folio Society 2017; winner of the Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novella, and a Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers) and Anansi Boys (2005, The Folio Society 2019). Credited with being one of the creators of modern comics, Gaiman is an author whose work crosses many genres and reaches audiences of all ages. His most recent publication is The Neil Gaiman Reader (2020).
This collector’s edition of Frank Herbert’s phenomenal tale of far-future desert warriors, fallible messiahs and interplanetary intrigue is illustrated by award-winning artist Sam Weber, and published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world’s best-selling science-fiction title.