Valentine Pontifex (Majipoor Cycle) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Mar 1996
|New from||Used from|
|Mass Market Paperback, 1 Mar 1996||
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
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’
‘In terms of excellence he has few peers, if any’
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!
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.
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.
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.