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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 9 July 2006
I started reading this book on a whim- I'd never read anything by Robert Silverberg before, and I was at a loose end one day. I was used to reading science fiction and fantasy, and thought I had seen most of the standard plots/styles by now. This was something quite fresh; the basic plot is very simple, which gives the author more space to create the world in which the characters live. But the way in which the tale progesses is somehow more involving and interesting than I had expected. Robert Silverberg's style really lends itself to the subject matter (understanding your place in the world,and striving towards a distant goal).

I find long, stodgy, expositions terribly irritating, and thankfully Mr Silverberg has mostly spared us this; instead the world is just described as the characters see it, as if everything is both strange (the main character has lost his memory at the start of the book) and entirely ordinary.

The characters themselves are pleasingly realistic (although, looking through the eyes of a 21st century culture, there is distinct evidence of racial stereotyping). They don't make arbitrary decisions to further the plot; nor are they 'good' or 'evil'. The dialogue is clean and colloquial.

The world is, weirdly, somewhere that you can really imagine yourself living. It seems somehow more real than most fantasy realms; maybe I was just in a particularly credulous mood when I first read it, but I could almost see the landscapes as they were described. If this were a real place being described, I'd want to visit; as it is, I find myself feeling almost homesick for an imaginary land!

I'd suggest that anyone who wants to read this book give themselves a good two hours to get stuck into the story; breaking off early on is likely to leave you confused when you come back to it. All in all, I would highly recommend Lord Valentine's Castle to anyone who has the stamina for a book of this length.
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on 19 January 2013
To be honest it's a poorly digitised scan. There are many times when two separate words were joined together or a single word was split up.
It's a great book and I recommend it if a person ONLY buys books for e-readers. If you're prone to buy the odd paper book though, then this is perhaps a book that is better in paper...
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on 29 January 2014
I was reminded of this book recently and, having read it about 25 years ago but being unable to recall much of it, I decided to read it again in ebook form.

I got about a third of the way into it and then realised why I hadn't been able to remember the story. I found it really hard to keep reading. My interest just faded away. The story is too arbitrary and has little direction. Just a lot of events with little connection.

If you're a fantasy fan, you may like it. If you're more of a sci-fi person, you will probably find better reading somewhere else.
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on 16 August 2014
How disappointing! I remember reading this book many years ago and enjoying it very much. O deah. I'm still an sf/fantasy addict, and this genre has definitely come of age, with wonderful writers such as Robyn Hobbs and Peter Hamilton showing how it should be done. There were just too many problems with Lord Valentine's Castle for me to swallow - for instance, the basic plot revolves around a mind/body swap; the usurping villain has taken over Valentine's body and flung his mind into another one whilst wiping his memory. Two problems here immediately - one, what has become of the villain's body? Never even addressed in the novel. Second, why Valentine wasn't simply killed was never very satisfactorily explained. It's still quite a good adventure story nonetheless, until Valentine finally starts gathering an army to reclaim his inheritance; I couldn't stop worrying how on earth these thousands of soldiers were being fed while they were on the march . . . All too simplistic, Mr Silverberg, and I won't bother with the sequels. Still, very interesting to revisit these "classics"; I've also re-read a couple of John Brunner's - Telepathist and Nightwings, which I remember being entranced with. o deah. Think I'll stick with the modern stuff.
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on 4 May 2002
A real delight to read. Imaginative, rich, complex and epic. A rare breed of sci-fi/fantasy crossover set against a beautifully realised world full of contrasts and with a real narrative drive. Unlike most fantasy this book is also very well written, avoiding cliches and tired set pieces. This book should be rated alongside Dune.
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on 12 January 2015
There is something weirdly fascinating about this book - it's not particularly good but somehow you keep turning the pages because you want to see how the inevitable conclusion will arrive. It's not great literature but it's straightforward, uncomplicated and an easy read. And the author has created a somewhat interesting fantasy world.

But...some of the plot becomes so contrived and ridiculous, and the escapes from impossible situations at some point became so fantastic that I stopped enjoying it. I know it's fantasy, but even fantasy worlds should have common sense. When you keep getting deus ex machina the story quickly becomes meaningless. That was my reason for giving it 2 stars instead of 3.
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on 15 July 2013
I read this book when I was about 15 and loved it so was very excited to find it in the kindle store. Maybe I should remember that I am not 15 anymore, as I now find it dull, poorly written, under-characterised and generally badly thought out. There's a cast of thousands, all as shallowly drawn as a layer of paint, and it amounts to little more than a road trip through daft sounding places, Piliplok, for example. Avoid!
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on 21 January 2009
Having read his short stories in the 'Legends' anthologies, I thought that the Majipoor series by Silverberg sounded promising. Unfortunately, this first book in the series didn't live up to my expectations. You might like it if you are heavily into world descriptions but I think compared to what else is about these days, the story itself is bland.

Other points... the vastness of Majipoor... even in fantasy, the magic and fantastic stuff has to fit within the bounds of the world it is set in. Castel Mount is supposed to have a billion (and more) living on it and it is 30 miles high. Compare this with London which has about 7.7 million over 620 square miles and that is pretty large. The descriptions and storylines just didn't add up for me with the numbers of inhabitants and the actions that were taking place.

Main characters... same as someone else, I too found most of them pretty flat. Valentine himself starts off flat, mainly because of his memory loss and does liven up a little later on in the book. His relationship with Carabella though seems to be put in as an afterthought most of the time. She gets put in charge of a section of his forces at one point... she who up to that point has shown little leaning towards leadership or outstanding tactical prowess.

When the first two Skandars died, I thought 'aah, you should have known, never star as the minor characters on a star treck away team'.

Valentine spares some thought as to how his old friends will like his new ones... but no more. We never witness those meetings.

A large part of the story is driven by dreams. I found the way they were employed pretty un-inspiring and as the story progressed I started just skimming over them.

All in all, I would read the next one in the series if someone gave it to me or I saw it somewhere really, really cheap but other than that, I won't be buying it any time soon.

My star ratings are the result of the following breakdown:
How difficult was it to put the book down: not difficult = two stars
Would I buy the hardcover of this one: no = one star
Am I likely to read it again: not anytime soon = two stars
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on 5 July 2001
The book opens with the main character, Valentine, remembering nothing of his past and so learning, along with the reader, about the world he is on (Majipoor) and who he really is. Majipoor the planet is an intriguing mix: vast size, many different intelligent species, deep history, strange methods of government and a 30-mile high mountain. It forms the background against which Valentine's 'human' story unfolds.
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on 16 November 2014
It was the best way of looking into the world to come,starting all over again and slowly finding your way
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