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Lord Valentine's Castle | [Robert Silverberg]

Lord Valentine's Castle

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

This classic science-fantasy novel by legendary author Robert Silverberg tells the story of a man named Valentine, an amnesiac on the world of Majipoor who must find out who he is and what has been done to him. Given that he shares a name with the Coronal (King) of Majipoor, and the name of the book is Lord Valentine's Castle, it is reasonable to assume that this man with no memory is the deposed, rightful ruler of Majipoor, and Valentine slowly learns that this is, in fact, the case. Although that plotline was not the most original of ideas even 30 years ago when Silverberg wrote the novel, the brilliance of the story is in the journey, not the destination — both in the literal and figurative sense. For Valentine's journey from amnesiac peasant to rightful king does take him on quite a literal journey — a fascinating travelogue of the strange, magical world of Majipoor in which Valentine, and the rag-tag troop of jugglers he associates with, eventually uncover the truth of Valentine's heritage.

Some authors write prose that speaks so distinctly that it needs no embellishment from a narrator. Silverberg is such an author, and so Rudnicki, being one of those no-frills narrators who basically acts as a conduit for the listener, is an ideal choice for narrator. His performance is understated but compelling — and it is that understated nature of his reading that is largely responsible for his appeal. Rudnicki is not going to dazzle you with his range of voices or other vocal trickery; instead, he keeps things basic, and for the most part just conveys the author's text and keeps out of the way, making listening to an audiobook read by him akin to reading the book yourself.

Some folks just know how to tell a story. And when you get two natural-born storytellers like Silverberg and Rudnicki together on the same project, the result is quite an unforgettable journey. —John Joseph Adams

Publisher's Summary

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.

©1980 Robert Silverberg; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (186 )
5 star
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4.0 (87 )
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4.1 (86 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    C. Paget London 07-29-08
    C. Paget London 07-29-08 Member Since 2003
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    "Superb"

    I read this book shortly after it's first publication so it's a great pleasure hearing it in audio form. I only need to comment on it's superb, expert narration. Flawless.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dionne londonUnited Kingdom 07-30-08
    Dionne londonUnited Kingdom 07-30-08
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    "a perfect listen"

    this is one of my all-time favourite fantasy books so i was delighted to see it on audible. as expected, i thoroughly enjoyed it, a magical listen and very well narrated. please can we have the other Majipoor books soon!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 12-11-08
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 12-11-08
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    "Magic!"

    A penetrating and original re-visitation of the classsic hero's quest. A dreamlike and magical journey through Majipor, world like no other. The narrators deep chocolate tone is perfect and only serves to broaden the listeners pleasure.
    This is not Fantasy, nor Sci-Fi, rather a genre all of its own, perhaps Jungian is the world. The only comparison I dare to consider is the work of the British writer Christopher Priest.
    Great story, compulsive narrative - highly recommended.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Chico, CA, USA 10-26-08
    Michael Chico, CA, USA 10-26-08
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    "Excellent"

    I read this book long ago and I remembered liking it a lot so I decided to get the Audible version to help me get through my daily commute. Rudniki did a great job reading this book and I found it quite enjoyable.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Conrad Windsor, ON, Canada 10-21-10
    Conrad Windsor, ON, Canada 10-21-10 Listener Since 2010
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    "Majipoor"

    I have read Lord Valentine's Castle in its print form at least seven or eight times, and it is one of my all-time favourite novels, even though I am a hard core sf fan rather than a fantasy fan. Now that my eyesight is deteriorating, I rely heavily on audio books, and the three audio Majipoor books currently available have added a a new dimension to this wonderful series. Superbly done, beautifully read by Stefan Rudnicki, who brings life to the alien voices. Strongly recommended for new Silverberg fans as well as long-time fans.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 04-11-11
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 04-11-11 Member Since 2009

    I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

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    "3.5 stars"

    Lord Valentine???s Castle (1980) is considered a classic SFF novel and, therefore, it???s one I???ve been planning to read (and expecting to love) for years. Indeed, there is much to love about Robert Silverberg???s world of Majipoor ??? it???s a huge hinterlands planet full of jungles, volcanoes, archipelagoes, deserts, long rivers, and sprawling cities populated by alien races and Old Earth humans. Majipoor contains no fossil fuels and few metals and, while there are still some genetically engineered animals and plants, most of Earth???s technology has been lost (though some is still being used by the rulers). Thus, Majipoor reminds me of what I love about Gene Wolfe???s Book of the New Sun ??? an old-world style with hints of unknown technological wonders that we hope to explore in future books.

    The premise and the world-building are the strengths of Lord Valentine???s Castle. The plot, though it has so much potential, sometimes seems to crawl under the weight of that huge planet. Valentine plans to go to the castle to confront the imposter, so he goes. It???s a long slow journey which has some obstacles, but they???re all rather easily overcome. Much of the hard work is done in dreams or images as the Lady of Dreams (and, later, Valentine himself) convinces the people around him that Valentine is the true ruler of Majipoor. There???s not much tension and what there is, is quickly relieved.

    I listened to Blackstone Audio???s production of Lord Valentine???s Castle which was read by one of my favorite narrators: Stefan Rudnicki. As usual, this was a very nice production and a great way to read Lord Valentine???s Castle.

    If you want to explore a vast imaginative world, and don???t mind the leisurely pace, try Robert Silverberg???s Majipoor Cycle.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 07-13-09
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 07-13-09 Listener Since 2007
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    "An interesting idea"

    Imaginative and interesting premise. BIGtime. Heavy handed and slightly ponderous on the execution end. Ditto on the narration. The author was DEFinitely exploring a theme of: "the responsibilities of a ruler to the people".

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael New Orleans, LA 05-03-13
    Michael New Orleans, LA 05-03-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Help! I'm Drowning In Poorly Written Mysticism!"

    I HATE reading good scifi or fantasy writing saddled by a smothering theme.

    It's like having sheet cake...The WHOLE sheet cake. It's cloying at the end of the day.

    Despite the wonderful alien races, simple strong writing, interesting characters, and a great plot. THEN...That crazy wacky King of Dreams. SO much planet-spanning messages to everyone in the night, so many blurry analogies, hidden godly wills, and a mishmash of mysticism and religion.

    It just pulled me away from the core of a great novel.

    Please understand, religion in fantasy is commonplace. Look at Jordan's Wheel Of Time series as an example of religion woven smoothly into fantasy writing. It works. It strengthens the entire story, and is one of the essential underpinnings of the entire series.

    Here, not so much.

    I hate that I love this work, and am equally frustrated by it's poorly driven religion. I finished the work, and hoped that this would end in the first novel. Nope. It got worse.

    I'm VERY confident that some of you will disagree, and that's okay. This is MY opinion, and I have to be true to myself.

    Sorry, Robert, I really tried.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T.E.S. Stickman 06-30-14 Member Since 2014

    History, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy

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    "Pulled me in but not quite all the way!"
    Any additional comments?

    Grand in scope, intriguing potential with highly imaginative topography, alien races and overall story. I just felt the actual banter between Valentine and his various friends to be be shallow to dull which left not one character as someone you really cared about. The fantasy world is huge and extremely creative and I would recommend this to anyone who likes the old formula fantasy with a hint of sci-fi.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Denver, CO, United States 09-24-12
    Susan Denver, CO, United States 09-24-12 Member Since 2009
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    "An old friend revisited"
    What made the experience of listening to Lord Valentine's Castle the most enjoyable?

    I read this book a number of years ago and was happy to find it on Audible. It didn't challenge my intellect or make me want to take up a political cause - it was just a fun futuristic/medieval romp. Sometimes those are the best books.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Robert Silverberg? Why or why not?

    Sure.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    I liked the narrator - his voice was smooth and he didn't overdo the drama in his voice. It was delightful.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It wanted me to dust off my juggling balls.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 12 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Padraig
    7/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fun, gentle romp across a fascinating world"
    If you could sum up Lord Valentine's Castle in three words, what would they be?

    fun fantasy perambulation


    What did you like best about this story?

    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!


    What does Stefan Rudnicki bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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