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Valentine Pontifex (Majipoor Cycle) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Mar 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPaperbacks; Reprint edition (Mar. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061054860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061054860
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.1 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,956,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

What is the test of an SF writer? Who belongs in the highest echelons? Robert Silverberg has considerable claims to be one of the greatest practitioners in the fields of both fantasy and SF, having turned out more than 50 novels of vaunting imagination since the 1950s (as well as serious works of history and archaeology).

Silverberg has been nominated for more awards than any other science fiction writer, alive or dead. And where many of the surviving writers of that era are reduced to thin retreads of their glory days work, Silverberg's imagination is as sinewy as ever.

The first volume of his Majipoor cycle, Lord Valentine's Castle, inaugurated one of the most awe-inspiring epics in the world of fantasy fiction since Tolkien and Peake. Lord Valentine himself is a remarkable creation, ruler of the fantastic world of Majipoor, but ever fearful that the fragile peace his citizens enjoy will collapse in the face of massive evil and wizardry. Valentine is a complex and multi-faceted character, perfectly set off by a varied cast of allies and opponents.

In the second volume of the sequence, Valentine Pontifex, Silverberg extends and enriches the wonderfully detailed universe he has created for his labyrinthine tale. At night Lord Valentine is tortured by visions of the catastrophe that threatens Majipoor, and by day he attempts to negotiate the complex politics of a very diverse world. Then he learns that the sinister Shapeshifters have ambitions to recapture their lost world, and he is faced with an impossible situation: does he surrender his world to these creatures and consign his people to slavery and death, or risk a bloody war that may cost even more lives--and even risk the destruction of all of Majipoor?

Silverberg is a past master at creating the colours and wonders of his enormous planet, but his greatest achievement may be the massive humanity with which he imbues his central protagonist and those who surround him. The language is as imposing as ever:

A spasm of astonishing pain swept through him, there was a terrible droning buzz in his ears, and his breath was as hot as flame. He felt himself descending into night, a night so terrible that it obliterated all light and swept across his soul like a tide of black blood.
. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


‘There are two things that abide: absolute awe at Silverberg’s capacity for creating images… he makes you see, believe, be there witnessing… and the overarching compassion that colours every word and all the souls in his enormous world’
Los Angeles Times

‘A grand tale by one of the great storytellers of the century’
Roger Zelazny

‘In terms of excellence he has few peers, if any’

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The follow up to Valentine's Castle has all the familiar cast of that book, with a few more added for luck. Re-ascending the throne and its problems have darkened Valentine's usually sunny disposition as he tries to do the right thing at every pass. Meanwhile time is running out as a Metamorph would be Messiah plans a campaign of attrition, and the old Pontifex Tyeveras dreams and mumbles ineffectively. Valentine is made to see that all things must change at their appointed time, but that even the rigid system of hierarchy can be bent sometimes.
I loved this book, not as much as the previous one, but it gives the previous history the completion it needed. I have read it many times andI never tire of the vastness of Majipoor, and the optimism of Valentine although now muted but not silenced.
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Format: Paperback
The triumphant conclusion to the Majipoor trilogy - but there were more books to come, inevitably. As readable as Robert Silverberg always is, anyone enjoying the first two - especially Lord Valentine's Castle - will enjoy this. Once more Valentine heads out into the massive world that is Majipoor, as the planet's shapeshifting indigenous inhabitants attempt to overthrow the long-established 'invaders'. Almost cowboys-and-Indians on another world. And Valentine is essentially the same peace-loving individual he was in the first book, but here confronted by an alarming ethical dilemma.

The book's weakness, for me, though, was the way the story skitters about from one group to the next, without really developing the initial characters much. Only Valentine - and his protégé Hissune - who readers met in the second book - are drawn in much detail. And the concluding part is rather unconvincing, as though Robert Silverberg had rather written himself into a corner and had to pull something out of the hat at the last minute to save the situation. That quibble aside I enjoyed this sequel, and will definitely read further. Its most appealing attribute is the rather leisurely pace - ironically the same thing that rather put me off the series back in the 80s. My demands as a reader have obviously changed!
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By A Customer on 17 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
Not only is Valentine Pontifex a worthy sequel to Lord Valentine's Castle, but also a better story that doesn't only entertains but educates you. I suspect this is a very different experience for readers who loved Lord Valentine's Castle. Here in this sequel, Robert Silverberg tells us a more intelligent, convincing and serious tale.
Unlike the magic used in Lord Valentine's Castle, the war waged by the Shapeshifters this time is more vicious and intelligent. Rather than attacking Lord Valentine directly, the Shapeshifters aimed for the Achilles' heel: the basic necessity for people to eat. The Shapeshifters spread highly contagious plant diseases to wipe out food crops in Zimroel. This causes widespread famine and the eventual collapse of regional economies. The Majipoor government is brought close to its knees, trying to control the spreading famine and social unrest. Very soon, cities form breakaway republics, and even people start declaring themselves as rulers. In all this chaos, Valentine Pontifex reveals something interesting: that the Majipoor government is actually a weak government, that Majipoor is held together more by people's goodwill for each other and their awe and respect for royalty rather than the government's show of strength or influence over the people. But make people hungry and desperate, even their goodwill for each other and respect for royalty would be found wanting.
The war's cascading effects as described in Valentine Pontifex are ominous because they mirror the kind of possibilities that could happen in our world today. One only has to look at Indonesia and the former Soviet Union. Collapse of their economies led to social unrest, breakaway republics, and states or regions fighting for independence.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent, what can I say? buy it!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9150ce64) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x915218c4) out of 5 stars Weak end to an otherwise decent trilogy... 9 Jan. 2003
By Steven Sammons - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I hate to say it, but this series ended with more of a whimper than a bang. The first novel was good, a little strangely paced (took forever to get to the Isle, then -zip! the book was over), but still a good read. The second book was also good, probably the best of the three. But then this book takes a big dip in quality. Valentine comes off looking like a naive, almost[...]bumpkin, who insists on dealing with every situation with love and peace, even as it becomes more and more obvious that his enemies are out to destroy him. The book starts with him fainting because he has a premonition that Majipoor is in trouble, and he never really rallies from that experience. From there he bumbles from place to place, never quite sure what to do but determined to do it without force. And this guy leads 50 billion people?!
As noted by other reviewers, many of the surrounding characters are not well drawn out and in many cases, hardly have any dialog. And the ending is almost preposterous.
OK, I've painted a pretty bleak picture here. But the saving of this novel is Hissune, the young protege of Valentine who's up on Castle Mount learning how to become a Coronal. Training that apparently Valetine missed. Anyway, Hissune is a great strong character, and it is always a delight when he is the subject of a chapter. In the end, Silverberg makes some good points about governments and the governing process, but never brings this book up to the standard of the other two books. If you have read the other two books, then go ahead and read this, it is still decent. If you have never read Majipoor, then run away as fast as you can and go read the other two first, or you'll never pick up another Majipoor novel again!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91521918) out of 5 stars A good end to a great trilogy 26 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was very enjoyable, the first being Lord Valentines Castle (A masterpiece), the second Majipoor Chronicles (A dissapointing compilation of short stories), and finally Valentine Pontifex, which was more in the ilk of the first in the series. The book was well written and held my interest from start to finish. My only minor criticism being that some of the earlier characters, whilst present were not explored further or made much use of in this the final rendition. Still a great book and worth a read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bac3894) out of 5 stars Valentine Ponderfex 16 Sept. 2005
By bleuceruleum - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For all its ponderous, slow pace, I still found this a very enjoyable read. Perhaps because that marveous world of Marjipoor

continues to have the ability to draw you in.

Here we have Coronal Valentine simply being his gentle, persistant self. Underneath the sweet exterior, Valentine's actually rather strong- but he still frustrates because we want to see some action! But Silverberg's ongoing theme throughout the Marjipoor novels has been universal acceptance, forgiveness, and love.

Valentine has to cope with those dastardly Shapeshifters and their nasty plots to take over the world by way of plagues, horrible mutant species, etc. that plunge the world into chaos.

Add in a strange new religious cult, Valentine's horror of becoming Pontifex and the Labyrinth---and you have the new plot for Valentine Pontifex.

Sometimes I've thought Silverberg has an abundance of imagination when it comes to world-building and description- but little in the way of human nature. Here we have a huge world with people who struggle all their lives to reach the top level of the Isle Of Dreams, yet Hissune's mother just steps right in and takes over the job of Lady Of The Isle. Just as Hissune just steps in and takes over as Coronal - though he's still wet behind the ears. Not very realistic- and a marvelous setting for some great conflict.

Instead, we are given scenario after scenario of good-hearted, hard working characters who are ruined, made destitute, or commit suicide due to seeing their life's work destroyed. While Valentine goes hither and thither, leaving dead bodies in his wake.

Even so- the scenarios are fascinating, Hissune is fun to root for, the Sea Dragons are a new interesting element and- given Valentine's nature, the resolution should not be surprising.

I'll take a Marjipoor book any day over most of the science fiction/fantasy that's out there. Not too many writers can pull me in to where I forget I'm reading a book. It's pure escape reading- and just a lot of fun.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91521ba0) out of 5 stars Disjointed and sorely lacking 7 Aug. 2004
By Jeremy York - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoy Silverberg's writing enormously, and loved the previous two books. However, I found this book to be a chore to read, and a big disappointment in so many ways.

The best things in the book, in my opinion, are the little side stories; some of them seem like they could have come straight out of Majipoor Chronicles.

The main storyline and characters are just pathetic, however. Valentine wanders aimlessly. Hissune seems to be the only person in the government paying attention to anything that's going on. Hissune's rival is a cardboard cutout. Sleet is reduced to an angry bitter man whose only lines call for war and genocide against the Metamorphs. Carabella is a decorative prop who occasionally pulls Valentine out of his funk, and nothing more. Other characters from the first book appear, but have so little involvement in the story that they only serve to distract.

Various plot elements fail to live up to their potential. The fainting spells of Valentine, the awesome mental powers of the sea dragons, the legends and prophecies of the metamorphs, the rivalries of the nobles, a visit to the king of dreams...all of these were plot elements that could have grown to be something interesting. Either they just fizzle into nothing, or they are resolved in boring, obvious ways. Really uninspired.

If you loved the earlier books, it might be worth your time: you'll see a few new aspects of the setting, and some of the embedded short stories are pretty good. But overall, it's pretty unsatisfying.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91521d20) out of 5 stars Every trilogy has an ending, but why end like this? 14 May 2005
By Dragon Quill - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For very page I read, there was at least two I skipped. The previous twos books were great, but sadly, they had to be capped off with this.

The charcters lost their charm, and there was only one I was interested in, but since Silverberg suddenyl changed his style from one character persepective to all, sadly, that one character came around all to few times.

This book also pocesses one of the worst endings I have ever read. To think that I forced myself all the way though those long pages only to see that as my reward. One word for that ending, horrificly pathetic. All right, that was two.

Back to the characters. Poorly developed, and if I hadn't known them before, I think I would have rooted for the antagonists to kill them off, just for the excitement. Its what Silverberg should have done, or something like it. This book was duller than lectures. It was like, almost reading a very unrealistic history noevl, where the you strangely get to experience the hourly introspectives of the characters that NO ONE CARES ABOUT.

Personally, I would have rather done my homework, but my own pride in the fact that I've never not finished a book kept me from that. And while the first two books only took me a week or so to read, this one took twice that, despite the fact its shorter. (If there wouldn't have been the boring introspectives and side stories, I might have finished it in a minute.)

So, if you are a fan of the other books, you don'thave to get this book. Have someone just tell you how it ends, and spare yourself three hundred some odd other pages. If you haven't read the other two books, read them, its worth it, and then decide for yourself wether you want to bore yourself to death. My advice, find it in the library, for five bucks are better spent elsewhere.
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