Book Review 137: Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg

With the most popular fantasy series discussed, I have always heard about  The Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, Wheel of Time series and so on. However, I have never heard the Majipoor Cycle by Robert Silverberg being discussed. The Majipoor Cycle is Silverberg’s most commercially successful works in his long and storied career.  I have always found interesting on which books or book series gets discussed and revisited over the years and which does not.

I have read several Robert Silverberg novels over the past couple years, mostly from his most prolific period of 1967-1976. However, it was recommended I needed to read the Majipoor Cycle to get the full range of this science fiction grandmaster’s career.

Lord Valentine’s Castle is the first book in the Majipoor Cycle.  It tells the story of Prince Valentine and his travels through planet Majipoor. He meets a juggling troupe along the way and becomes a member.  However, Prince Valentine has these intense dreams about his past.  A past that reveals him as a member of the royal family of Majipoor and his place as its king.  Are those dreams real? If so, why did he end up in a position as a wanderer and member of this juggling troupe?

Silverberg tells a simple hero quest on the surface.  But he adds depth to the story with commentary about the power of dreams, telekinesis, and the search for one’s identity.  Moreover, Silverberg’s world-building was the some of the best I have ever read in imaginative fiction.  I was engrossed by Valentine’s travels of Majipoor, a world of both spirituality and science. Silverberg does not short change either side of that divide in Lord Valentine’s Castle.

I recommend Lord Valentine’s Castle for fantasy fans looking for a new series (actually a modern classic series) to read and readers who want to get lost in a world for a few days of reading.  I look forward to reading the remaining two books of the original trilogy: Majipoor Chronicles and Valentine Pontifex.

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