Lord Prestimion (The Majipoor cycle) Hardcover – 1 Feb 1999
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Robert Silverberg has been one of SF's most prolific and popular writers since the mid-1950s. His science-fantasy stories set on the huge, exotic world Majipoor began with Lord Valentine's Castle (1980), which the SF Encyclopedia calls "polished but rather languid". In Lord Prestimion the hero Prestimion takes the throne as Coronal, co- ruler of Majipoor, a millennium before Lord Valentine's reign. His crowning follows the long, ruinous civil war to overthrow a usurping Coronal, a war now literally forgotten: Prestimion's sorcerers have imposed amnesia on Majipoor in hope of preventing any further uprising. Such a memory- wipe reeks of wrongness and has seemingly caused the plague of insanity currently spreading. Meanwhile, one very bad man who was a leading rebel and warmonger recovers his memories and escapes to make new mischief.... After various colourful, almost dream-like travelogues, the situation is saved--a little too easily?--by telepathic gadgetry. (The device in question and several crossover characters appeared in the 1982 story- cycle Majipoor Chronicles.) Smoothly written, but somewhat short on real suspense...even in the swashbuckling comic sequence when Prestimion's Regent fights and kills at least 21 would-be assassins during one morning's office paperwork. It's a man's life in the Majipoor civil service. --David Langford
‘Silverberg’s invention is prodigious… like a competent juggler, he maintains his rhythm and suspense to the end’
‘Marvel upon marvel… Majipoor Chronicles is a beautiful book’
Los Angeles Times
‘If you like tales with an exotic Arabian Nights piquancy, this book belongs in your hands’
Washington Post Book World
‘Majipoor is probably the finest creation of Silverberg’s powerful imagination and certainly one of the most fully realized worlds of modern fantasy’
‘Lord Valentine’s Castle is a surefire page-turner, a brilliant concept of the imagination’
Top Customer Reviews
The Majipoor stories are set in the far future on a huge planet populated by humans, aliens and strange indiginous creatues called shapesifters.
The society is almost medieval with lords and ladies holding court over a vast populace. Technology is around in the background, but metals are very scarce an dthere is no industrialisation to speak of, so it plays little part in the stories.
There is one world wide government a non hereditary double Monarchy. The Pontifex is the 'High King' but rules via a civil service and is based deep underground in 'The Labyrinth'. The exectuve arm (as it were) is the Coronal, who lives in a Castle on top the highest mountain on Majipoor. When the Pontifex dies, the Coronal takes his place and appoints a new Coronal from among the courts princes.
In this story (the 2nd in the Prestimion trilogy), we find Lord Pretimion (the Coronal) dealing with the aftermath of the 'sorcery' conducted at the end of the previous novel. In an attempt to erase the horrors of war from the collective minds of the populace, Prestimion seems to have created a new crisis in which many of the population are going mad. In addition, his arch enemy Dantarya Sambail is on the loose and poses a new threat to Prestimions reign as Coronal.
As with most of Robert Silverbergs work, the writing is impecccable and entrancing, though the pacing of the story in the first half of the book was perhaps a little slow.
My only serious criticism of this and other Majipoor novels is that despite the supposed vastness of this world, it never seems to feel that big. Perhaps its because there are only 4 major land masses, though the smallest of which (The Isle of Sleep) is large enough to contain all of the planet Earth. The characters mention it, but as a concept it just doesn't come to life.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book however, was a major disappointment. It's really an extended travelogue of the major continent. Character development is given short-shrift, plot is one-dimensional, motivations are not explained, etc, etc. The publisher could have cut the book in half without losing any relevant content.
A book has to be really dreadful for me to start start skipping sections. It usually starts with me skipping a sentence or two, then a paragraph or two, then entire pages if the book is terrifically bad. With Lord Prestimion I was skipping the pages like there's no tomorrow.
On the other hand, if you enjoy reading about the strange and bizarre lands/plants/animals or Majipoor, this is your book. For me, the scenery should be the background to the story. Here, it's the whole story.
I would give this book a one-star review, except I have to reserve that dubious distinction for Robert Jordan's "Path of Daggers". At least there's no spanking, although there is a marriage proposal even though the two characters have only spent a whole hour face-to-face.
Fundamentally, Majipoor makes no sense. The larger a planet, the less unified it would be and the more unstable the politics. On Majipoor, we are asked to believe, not only is there one language and culture but the same political system has existed without change for thousands of years. With a sufficiently vigorous plot, one can overlook this and suspend one's disbelief, but there's not enough going on here to distract you from the man behind the curtain (so to speak).
Jack Vance's Big Planet, by contrast, depicts a giant-size world as it probably would be --- a thousand contentious cultures, no central political control of any kind, technology limited only by the lack of metals. Surely Silverberg is familiar with this venerable work (in many ways, one of Vance's best); but Majipoor is fantasy, not SF. Still, we know Silverberg can do much better.
Now, in this new book, Prestimion has doubts and angst and while chewing his nails to the quick, he allows the notorious Procurator Dantirya Sambail to escape from the royal dungeons. And so now we have the plot for this novel- saving the planet from the insanity the inhabitants are experiencing as a result of having their minds tampered with, and fighting the evil Procurator whom Prestimion didn't have the balls to put to death. (Poor value judgement number two.)
It's very frustrating to care about a character one cannot admire- and wants to wallop a good one in his derriere.
That said, the other characters are marvelous. Prestimion's close friends are a delight, Dekkeret is given good characterization, Maundigan-Klimd is fascinatng, and the main "character" - Majipoor- is as marvelous as ever. Not much excitement, except for the misery- for both the inhabitants and the reader- of detailed descriptions of incidents of insanity, but if you've come to love this world and its characters, you won't feel you've wasted your money.
Well written, I suppose, but after six books of Majipoor it's time for Silverberg to do something new.