The Shadow of the Torturer
Simon and Schuster (303 pages, 1980)
In the business of reading, which is as industrious and thankless a hobby as ever there was, there are opening lines and then there are melodies, words that ring like bells and stick in your mind, forever.
It was my fortune that a creature of the second sort happened on me one extremely lucky day, in a used bookstore on the last shelf of science fiction. First, it lured me out with its eerie title.
“Shadow of the Torturer?” said I, to myself, plucking the book off of the shelf. It is the first of four books by Gene Wolfe, and the cover of the little novel I held in my hand depicted a hooded man with a bare chest and a sword.
I thought, “What an odd profession, torturing. I mean. Can you even BE a torturer by profession?”