The Shadow of the Torturer - Gene Wolfe
An Earth of the far future; a post-technological society living on the ruins of the past; ancient guilds with arcane rituals and origins lost in antiquity; cold and casual depictions of torture... Gene Wolfe describes all of these things in magnificent and luscious detail. Unfortunately, this takes up so much space that there isn't room for a plot.
Severian is a torturer's apprentice, who goes on to become a journeyman, is kicked out of the guild, and fights a duel... and, er, that's about it. Admittedly, this is only the first book in the series and there are hints of a bigger story in the background (the rebel Vodalus, the Claw of the Conciliator, some mention of time travel) but these are too short and inconsequential to count as proper foreshadowing. Vodalus in particular - the young Severian meets him in the first few pages and swears loyalty for no apparent reason, then repeatedly harps on about it for the rest of the book despite its utter irrelevance to the story.
The book is written in first person, from the point of view of Old Man Recording His Past. This is quite a commonly-used technique, as it allows a glimpse of what happened to the character in the end (eg. "As I sit here writing in my throne room..." or "The guards have provided me with pen and paper..."); it's also an easy way to do the foreshadowing ("If only I'd known what awaited me there...") and to reassure the reader that the character's not going to die. Unfortunately, it can also look quite cheesy and forced, and it rather precludes character development. Only one character can be explored, and this is done from the perspective of the same character at a fixed point in the future. This is fine when there is enough action to hold your interest, but action is something that this book badly lacks.
I'll be reading the next one in this series, but only because both books are bound up in the same volume. I'll let you know if it gets any better...