Sorcerers of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg

Sorcerers of Majipoor

by Robert Silverberg

Form: Novel

Year: 1997

ID: 1087

Publication history:


(from Harper & Row 1997)

A thousand years before Lord Valentine, the Majipoor Cycle explores another grand epic in a world conceived on a truly epic scale.

One of the best-loved science fiction sagas of all time finds new resonance in the unforgettable tale of treachery and passion, destiny and war.

On the gigantic planet Majipoor, it is a time of ancient mysteries and new wonders. The aged Pontifex Prankipin, who brought sorcery (and prosperity) to the Fifty Cities of Castle Mount, is at last near death. Omens are seen, prodigies are born, wine and blood are consumed...even the sea-dragons have been glimpsed from the cliffs. Truly, a change is at hand!

The Coronal Lord Confalume, who will become Pontifex, decides to begin the Funeral Games before his own replacement is chosen. It is no secret that the next Coronal will be Prince Prestimion. By law and custom, the blood son of the present Coronal cannot rule the seemingly endless castle with its 30,000 rooms. Besides, everyone knows that young Korsibar is an outdoorsman, preferring the pleasures of the hunt to the intrigues of the court.

What everyone does not know it that the hunter has a new and secret quarry – the Starburst Crown. Korsibar has been visited by an oracle. From the thin lips of the two-headed Su-Suheris, he has heard the whispered words that will plunge the planet into a fearsome conflagration, engulfing all the myriad races of Majipoor in a war to alter destiny itself.

You will shake the world!


It pains me greatly to say I have reservations about this installment in the history of the big planet. The writing and invention are superb as always, and the plot is exciting enough to keep a reader interested, but I have a problem with it.

It has been one of my peeves that many people refer to Lord Valentine's Castle and the other Majipoor books as fantasy. They are science fiction, of the subgenre called planetary romance. They take place on a distant planet and all the wonders are accomplished by technological means. There is no magic (barring the use of telepathy, which is admittedly a gray area). The title of this book is a clue that something is different in this volume. Although there are skeptics among the characters in the story (Prestimion is one), it is clear that in this version of Majipoor magic is real. I can no longer say this is a science fiction novel without going into more rationalization than Silverberg includes in this entire lengthy book. His attempts at explaining sorcery are minimal, even half-hearted. And honestly, the ending, while it makes sense in an obvious plotting way, is completely unbelievable.

The Prestimion story continues in Lord Prestimionand King of Dreams.

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