This is a book in the Majipoor cycle series - and my first visit to this universe. As a book it can stand by itself. While knowing facts about the science fiction world of Majipoor would be nice, it's not at all necessary - a fact that attracts me to certain authors. In this book Prestimion finally prepares to take his place in the subterranean Labyrinth where the Pontifex (or king/emperor) must dwell. He has named Prince Dekkeret to succeed him as Coronal. Once a commoner, Dekkeret brings new blood to the aristrocratic Starburst Throne. The pontifex and coronal rule the whole world of Majipoor with all of its different alien races residing there. As might be expected, not all are pleased with the center of power being held in one place. Therefore, through the advice of an old enemy of Prestimion - Mandralisca - the five lords of Zimroel proclaim their independence. Mandralisca is able to advise such a bold step because he has come into possession of a dream helmet. Instead of a glorious and peaceful reign, Dekkeret and Prestimion have to deal with rebellion at the beginning of this new reign. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any reader. It certainly put a new twist to the world of science fiction.
I am a huge fan of Silverberg's work, the Majipoor Cycle most of all, and I was not impressed by this book. The character Dinitak seemed under developed, and what glimpses of him that we did see made him seem like a completely unlovable fellow. Not at all like the other Majipoorians who have come to power in the realm. Dinitak also seemed like an afterthought in the book, despite the fact that he is, in fact, the King of Dreams. The ending of this book was so rushed and contrived that I almost felt that Silverberg suddenly realised one day that he only had a week before the deadline to wrap this book up, and having not started, he sat down and wrote the whole mess in one go. The plot was so silly, I couldn't believe it. After the 'insurrection' from the last book, "Prestimion", it seems that once Dantirya Sambail was dead, everyone went back to the castle and forgot about the whole shebang. Mandrilasca had slipped away into the jungle, and despite having a very powerful weapon at their command, he wasn't pursued or tracked at all. As for the dream helmets, they were simply locked away, and forgotten. And Dinitak didn't think it appropriate to tell Prestimion and Dekkeret that other members of his family knew how to create the dream helmets. So 20 years on, another change of power on Majipoor, and all of the evil-doers from the last book, who were allowed to go free, turn back up and start the whole mess all over again. I wish RS would re-write this book, and take some time to re-think the plot. Dinitak def needs some more screen time, and this whole Mandrilasca mess could be rethought. Governments don't simply let fellows like Mandrialsca go free. But what's done is done. A sad way to end the cycle.