Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg

Lord Valentine's Castle

by Robert Silverberg

Form: Novel

Year: 1980

ID: 677

Publication history:


(from Bantam 1981)

Come to the magical planet of Majipoor. Follow Valentine as he joins a motley band of jugglers to seek the secret of his lost past across a wide and wondrous world. In the shattered city of the Shapeshifters, in the temple of the Lady of Sleep and the Isle of the King of Dreams. From the depths of a dying emperor's dark domain, to the destiny that awaits him high atop Lord Valentine's Castle.


This is really the one that started it all for me. Not that it was the first Silverberg I read (far from it), but it was what started my devotion to (some would say obsession with) his work. I wouldn't say it's his best novel (don't ask me to choose, please), but it is his greatest feat of world-building, and entirely characteristic of the tone of his later, more mature, writing. In some ways, earlier books like Dying Inside and stories like Born with the Dead are superior (call it personal intensity), but Lord Valentine's Castle brings all of his themes together in a good-natured mess free of the darkness that characterized his writing in the sixties and seventies.

It's one of those SF stories where the setting is really the star attraction. The planet of Majipoor is a Big Planet, long ago colonized by humans and a variety of other species.There are myriads of interesting plants, animals, and cultures, and the mysterious Majipoori natives, the Shapeshifters. In all the best ways, it reminds me of Jack Vance's writing: a boggle of invention, all described colorfully, with characters romping from one quirky society to the next.

After initially claiming he would not write a sequel, Silverberg has revisited Majipoor numerous times, not just directly continuing the saga of Valentine, but filling out the planet's history both before and after his time. The Valentine Trilogy consists of this book, Majipoor Chronicles, and Valentine Pontifex. The Seventh Shrine is a shorter work featuring Valentine but not directly related to the main story of the trilogy. Mountains of Majipoor takes place well after Valentine's day. The Prestimion Trilogy, set long before Valentine, comprises Sorcerers of Majipoor, Lord Prestimion, and The King of Dreams. After this, Silverberg claims there will be no more Majipoor books, and he just might keep his word this time.

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