5 of 5 stars A lovely piece of science fantasy, well paced and engaging I didn t like it quite as much as the lush world of Majipoor Chronicles, but it was a fun and interesting fantasy treatment of colonialism and reparation and forgiveness The struggle with the Metamorphs has come to a head in Valentine Pontifex they have begun to act in an attempt to take back their world form the humans and other aliens that came to Majipoor thousands of years ago The crops are failing, new and dangerous beasts have appeared, and the world is in turmoil as a group of Metamorphs attempt to drive the rest of the inhabitants of Majipoor either to extinction of departure Valentine desperately attempts to keep the world together, while he considers the difficult future becoming Pontifex deep in his Labyrinth and how to determine his successor.
I thought that the plotting was well done and it kept me reading The characters have had ample time to develop, which helped with the relatively large cast and the jumping back and forth between different parts of the world The treatment of colonialism and forgiveness was perhaps a bit reductive but it was nice to see a story where there was at least something resembling an attempt to make amends to a colonized people.
This is the third in a series known as the The Majipoor Cycle Unlike LeGuin s Hainish Cycle, The Majipoor Cycle is a regular series and should be read in sequence, though it wouldn t hurt if the second were read before the first I had read the first two books, Lord Valentine s Castle and Majipoor Chronicles in the previous 14 months I wish I had read the series closely together, so that the previous books had been fresher in my memory The earlier books establish the history that lead to Valentine Pontifex and there were many references in Valentine Pontifex to events in the earlier books.
The books in this series are science fiction books by virtue of the planet Majipoor having been colonized by humans and other species over the last 14,000 years Aside from that, it is a fantasy There is an element of telepathy in this series which reaches a crescendo in Valentine Pontifex It put me very much in mind of the kind of telepathy and mental powers, the shining, in Stephen King s Doctor Sleep, which I had just finished reading.
Robert Silverberg s writing of this series is quite enjoyable, and it is quite different from the stories in his acclaimed earlier novels Dying Inside and The Book of Skulls.
Mmmh I loved the first two books in the series for the world building, for the exploring of exotic places with exuberant flora, fauna, and architecture, which made up for weak plots and characterisation In Valentine Pontifex, however, there s a lot less world building and political plot, and it doesn t work well, imo Most of the world building is reduced to name dropping, which there s lots of and which requires that the reader remembers those places well from the previous books, otherwise I imagine it gets very exhausting.
The basic premise view spoiler the Metamorphs seeking revenge and spreading chaos, the destruction of the peaceful life on Majipoor, the mysterious sea dragons hide spoiler Rather than continuing the bright and active story of the first book, this book, essentially the second and continuance of the story, is dreary and depressing The bright and happy king is now mopey and constantly despondent about everything.
And then it ends and everything is fine.
This book isn t needed to support the first Just read the first book in the series and consider it done.
I got half way through this and got stuck I was too worried about what the bad guys were up to and not invested enough in the good guys to keep reading.
I recently read a review that said while this was a solid book, it didn t have the magic of the previous two I decided to take that, along with the fact I haven t read any of the book for the better part of a year, as good reason to make this officially a DNF.
Hissune, a minor character from the first novel and the framing device for the second, comes into his own as a secondary protagonist Seeing him take decisive and bold action is far satisfying than watching Valentine mope But Hissune ultimately doesn t get enough spotlight to carry the novel.
Valentine Pontifex does deliver a somewhat satisfying ending, even if it takes way too long to get there It s recommended for big fans of the earlier Majipoor books with a caution to keep expectations in check.
The National Bestselling Saga Of Robert Silverberg S Stunning Imagination Continues In The First New Hardcover Majipoor Novel In Nearly A Decade As A Prequel To Silverberg S Earlier Majipoor Novels Sorcerers Of Majipoor Provides A Deep, Dark Vision For The Background Of The Conflict In Lord Valentine S Castle And Valentine PontifexTreachery And Wizardry Run Rampant Under The Reign Of The Mighty Pontifex, As Both The Rightful And The Unworthy Heirs To The Throne Anxiously Await His Demise Korsibar, Son Of The Current Coronal, Plots With His Twin Sister And Ambitious Companions To Seize The Power Of The Coronal When His Father Ascends To The Throne Of The PontifexBut The Burdens Of The Crown And Scepter Exact Of A Price Than Korsibar Is Prepared To Pay His Rival Fights To Take His Appointed Place As Keeper Of His Beloved Majipoorand To Resbackse Order To The Utter Chaos That Has Befallen Their World Silverberg Has Created A Big Planet, Chock A Block With Life And Potential Sbacksies The Washington Post