The planet Majipoor is shared by humans and several alien races, including four-armed Skandars, three-eyed Liiman, and the native, shape-shifting Metamorphs. All are watched over by the King of Dreams, the labyrinth-dwelling Pontifex, and the priestess of the Isle of Sleep, while the Coronal officially rules from atop Castle Mount.The Majipoor Cycle begins as young Valentine, a man with no memory, is hired as an apprentice juggler by a group of eccentric performers. While the traveling troupe takes to the road, Valentine's sleep is disturbed by nightmare visions of warring brothers and difficulties on faraway Castle Mount. In a quest to discover who Valentine really is, his wise and peculiar companions resolve to help him claim the rewards of his birth. But another trial awaits Valentine that will test his belief, resolve, and strength of character.More
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Fun, gentle romp across a fascinating world
fun fantasy perambulation
I first read Lord Valentine's Castle 30 years ago and really loved it. I found that listening again to the story 3 decades later that my memory of it was as fresh as the day I first read it.
I think it is the mood of the story that sets this book apart. This is no epic fantasy with pitched battles against terrible odds for the very survival of a people. Though the stakes are just as high, here a vagabond troupe of jugglers have the fate of a world of billions in their hands as they perambulate across the planet of Majipoor, muddling through challenges as best they can.
Though there is a great set of quirky characters, both human and alien, in many ways the most interesting character traits are reflections of the highly diverse culture which has managed to maintain general harmony over thousands of years and the seemingly weak forces which make it all work. If you can suspend disbelief that it's possible you're left with the general feeling that this world would be a really nice place to visit or live. And the world of Majipoor is in itself epic in scale, a huge, low density, metal poor planet with vast continents filled with fascinating folk, flora and fauna around every bend in the road.
There is plenty of conflict to keep the story moving along at a typical gentle Majipoorean pace and slowly build to a climax at the end which resolved all the main threads of the novel satisfactorily. In many ways the sub plot of the story of Edeard in Makkathran in Peter F. Hamilton's The Dreaming Void was very reminiscent of Majipoor's low tech science fictional universe with a strong fantasy feel to it.
Probably not for aficionados of Grimdark but if you'd like a fun exploration of a future fantasy world which has a very positive feel and where success is linked more to your ability to inspire others to do the right thing than to the size of the army you can raise then this is the book for you.
It is interesting that while Majipoor has a strong and diverse multi-cultural society there is still a legacy of an aboriginal population which have been very poorly treated, and the very accepting and tolerant but not quite equal treatment of non humans (can you really call people who have lived somewhere for millennia alien?). And there is a sense that Majipoor is a slumbering backwater in an unfashionable part of the galaxy which helps dispel a sense that it is all too perfect to be true.
Well worth a read!
Fantastic narration as I've come to expect from Stefan who really brings the characters to life and who conveys the warmth of the narrative really well.