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Characters / Book of the New Sun

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Introduced In Shadow Of The Torturer

A journeyman at the Seekers for Truth and Penitence, who is exiled from his guild at the beginning of the series, which chronicles his journey from exiled torturer to Autarch.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He describes himself as being insane, though exactly the cause or symptoms are unclear.
  • Cool Sword: Terminus Est. Though it is pointedly not a magic sword.
  • Dark Messiah: He is the New Sun, bringing new life to the planet through apocalypse.
  • Exalted Torturer: Subverted, as he initially believes this, but then comes to later realize that torture is bad. As Autarch, Severian tries to outlaw the Torturers' Guild, saying "It is intolerable that good men should spend their lives dispensing pain."
  • Messianic Archetype: His life shares many parallels with that of Jesus Christ.
  • Mythical Motifs: In addition to the Christ parallels above, Severian is associated with the Incan sun god Apu-Punchau. This is further explored in the follow-up Urth Of The New Sun.
  • Off with His Head!: His day job as a lictor.
  • Photographic Memory: To such a degree that he does not understand the meaning of the notion "to forget", or so he claims.
  • Serial Romeo: He has a tendency to fall in love wholly and quickly, between Thecla, Agia, Dorcas and Valeria.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Has a tendency to fall into this.
    "He (Master Gurloes) mispronounced quite common words: urticate, salpinx, bordereau."
  • Torture Technician: His education in the guild of torturers prepared him for this.
  • Unreliable Narrator: He has been described as such by several critics and readers.
  • Weird Trade Union: He grew up in the Order of Seekers For Truth and Penitence, otherwise known as the torturer's guild.

A legendary revolutionary with whom Severian becomes involved.
  • Big Good: He is viewed as such by Severian, and many of the common people of Urth.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: He and his followers consume the flesh of their dead to absorb their memories.
  • Grave Robbing: One of the ways Vodalus and his followers acquire bodies to consume. Severian saves Vodalus's life during a grave robbing mission gone awry.
  • I Owe You My Life: Severian saves his life in the opening sequence of the book, and gives him a coin as a token of thanks.
  • Rebel Leader: He is the main force of resistance to the regime of the Autarch.

An exultant woman imprisoned by the Autarch to gain leverage over her sister Thea, who is in the service of Vodalus.
  • Blue Blood: She is described as belonging to a house more noble and ancient than any prisoner the guild has previously held.
  • First Love: To Severian. He never quite moves on from the love he held for her.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Due to her aristocratic status as an Exultant, Thecla is granted extra privileges such as books from the library, and having Severian assigned to her for companionship.
  • Mercy Kill: When her torture actually begins, she is given this by Severian, who is exiled for it
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Severian falls deeply in love with her after bonding over their love of obscure books.
  • The Pardon: During her time in the Matachin Tower, when Thecla isn't reading, talking with Severian, or doing other things with Severian, she's waiting one one of these from the Autarch.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She is described as being the tallest woman Severian has ever seen.
  • Supernatural Is Purple: Thecla's eyes are violet, emphasizing the sheer otherworldliness of the Exultants.

     Master Palaemon 
One of the two primary masters of the guild.
  • Mentor Archetype: To Severian, though Severian seems to view his predecessor Master Malrubius as more of a mentor to him personally.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: It is by his hand the Severian is exiled rather than tortured to death.

A giant of a man traveling with Dr. Talos.
  • Dueling Messiahs: To Severian, though the latter does not realize it.
  • Dumb Muscle: He is actually NOT this, being smart enough to create an advanced automaton such as Dr. Talos.
  • Gentle Giant: Subverted He appears as such, but he enslaves people.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Though at first he appears to simply be a very large man, he is actually a creature in the vein of Erebus and Abaia, and constantly growing. One day he will be so large he will have to live in the sea, as he will be so heavy he can only support himself in the water.
  • Meaningful Name: Baldanders, or the Soon-Another, is a creature from Germanic literary myths, who is constantly changing form.
  • The Power of Acting: Besides his strength, this is his greatest strength.
  • Recurring Element: He appears in every volume of Book of the New Sun as well as Urth of the New Sun. It verges on Arch-Enemy eventually.

     Dr Talos 
A traveling mountebank met by Severian at an inn, who becomes his companion on their mutual journey north.
  • Affably Evil: Though he enslaves people, Severian describes him as one of the few people to show him genuine kindness after his exile from the guild.
  • Mad Scientist: His experiments and alterations on Jolenta made her very beautiful and desirable, but ultimately kill her
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: He ultimately is revealed to be an automaton created by Baldanders.
  • The Storyteller: He fancies himself to be this. From what we see, his plays do seem to attract audiences.
  • Wandering Minstrel: After the destruction of his and Baldanders estate, the two of them set out as a traveling show.
  • World of Symbolism: All of his plays take place in one, with characters such as "Death," or "Innocence."

A waitress at the inn where Severian meets Dr. Talos and Baldanders, who is convinced to join their theater troupe.

A woman Severian becomes smitten with, who tries to prepare him for his trial by combat.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: She is in a sexual relationship with her brother Agius.
  • Cruel Mercy: On the receiving end from Severian, as he is unable to hate her even after everything she has done to him.
  • The Vamp: It turns out she is trying to both seduce and kill Severian.


  • Amnesiac Hero: She does not remember most of her life.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: She is almost certainly Severian's paternal grandmother, though she is unaware of this.
  • The Ophelia: She is almost always confused, and forgets most of her past, yet she is endeared to Severian. For added parallels she is rescued from drowning by Severian.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Severian.


Introduced In Claw Of The Conciliator

A soldier from Nessus, whom Severian meets and befriends as he is leaving the city.
  • Artificial Limbs: He has one robotic hand. It's the other one that's artificial.
  • Cool Old Guy: He has many years on Severian. It turns out he's Really 700 Years Old.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of his defining characteristics, Severian guesses he picked it up during his time as a sailor.
  • I Shall Return: He vows to return for Jolenta before he leaves Urth.
  • Love at First Sight: Immediately falls head over heels in love with Jolenta.
  • Meaningful Name: Named after Jonah the biblical traveller.
  • Robotic Reveal: About halfway through Claw it is revealed not only his arm is robotic
  • Secretly Dying: For most of Claw, he eventually realizes he must leave the planet to be healed
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Inverted. He is actually a robot who was damaged in a spaceship crash, and with a shortage of robotic parts to repair him, he made do with organic parts.

     The Green Man 

  • The Freakshow: Severian meets the Green Man as an attraction at a carnival.

Introduced In Sword Of The Lictor


  • Big Dumb Body: Used as this by Typhon. Piaton is described as having a heroic physique.
  • The Speechless: Piaton is unable to speak. It isn't outright said if he was simply never able to, or if his vocal cords were removed when Typhon's head was grafted on. He's still able to mouth "kill me" to Severian, though.
  • Two Beings, One Body: Typhon's head is grafted to his shoulder. Typhon has complete control of their body except for vital functions, which are still controlled by Piaton's brain.

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