the Little Red Reviewer

The Mountains of Majipoor, by Robert Silverberg

Posted on: January 25, 2011

The Mountains of Majipoor, by Robert Silverberg

written in: 1995

where I got it: library

why I read it: Silverberg rocks my world.

On my last library jaunt, I was hoping to find Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle, or Majipoor Chronicles. Alas, the library only had the third book in the series, Valentine Pontifex. And who wants to read just the third book? I’ve read them all, but I wanted to start at the beginning. Then I happened upon The Mountains of Majipoor, a stand alone that does take place on the massive planet of Majipoor, many generations after Valentine. How could I say no?

Thanks to an innocent accident in his youth, young Prince Harpirias finds himself banished from the Castle Mount, given a useless bureaucratic post out on the edge of civilization.  Slowly losing contact with his friends, and realizing his hometown has forgotten him, he becomes bitter and angry.

The quest part of the story comes along fairly quickly when Harpirias learns that an archaeological team of scientists has been taken hostage by an even further northern tribe. At first angry that responsibility to save the team falls on him, Harpirias soon realizes if he negotiates the release of the scientists, he can look forward to a Hero’s welcome back home at the Castle Mount.

What follows is an education on tolerance guided through an almost comedy of errors.   Korinaam, Harpirias’  shapeshifter guide and translator, keeps telling him that King Toikella of the mountain tribe doesn’t understand that the rest of the world isn’t small mountainous village tribes, and that the king is expecting the Coronal of Majipoor to be visiting him to negotiate for the scientist’s release.  Perhaps it would be a good idea for Harpirias to make believe, just for a few days, that he is in fact, the Coronal?

Preposterous, and illegal!  And of course, King Toikella assumes that Harpirias is the Coronal, and treats him as such, with never a word of correction from Korinaam. King Toikella might be ignorant of the rest of the world, but he is not stupid.  Knowing his tribe is inbred, the king is thrilled for some new genetic material, and pushes his wives and daughters on the new comers, who aren’t sure if finding a naked princess in their bed is an honor, or an invitation to be executed.

Beyond that, there seems to be a shapeshifter tribe even further in the mountains who terrorize the human village by killing their sacred animals and throwing the corpses into the city.  Maybe Harpirias can help them with that problem too.

Harpirias does eventually learn what it will take to free the captive scientists, and that maybe this filthy, unwashed, and ignorant mountain princess who keeps trying to bed him isn’t quite as filthy or unwashed or stupid as he had thought. Harpirias is becoming the person he never could have become, had he stayed at the Castle Mount his entire life.

Mountains of Majipoor is a fast and cute read, you can probably read it in an afternoon. It was interesting to see Majipoor through someone else’s eyes, and the sex comedy bits are really quite entertaining.    However, if you are expecting the majesty and the awe of Silverberg’s previous Majipoor stories, you may be disappointed.   I just never came to really care about Prince Harpirias.

I’m not sure who to recommend this book to.  I read it because it had the words “Robert Silverberg” on the cover.  It’s no where near as good as the Lord Valentine series, and if this is your first foray into Majipoor, I worry you’ll find it rather bleh, and not read the award winning series that came before.  so, not the most incredible thing I’ve ever read, but I’m happy I spent an afternoon in the mountians of Majipoor.

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4 Responses to "The Mountains of Majipoor, by Robert Silverberg"

“Silverberg rocks my world.”

When you get around to reading Among Others you will see that you share that sentiment with the protagonist. :)

I may have read one or two Silverberg short stories in my life, though I cannot recall if that is the case. He is one of MANY authors who I’ve sadly neglected but hope to read one day.

I do thoroughly enjoy his column in each monthly issue of Asimov’s. Regardless of whether I have an interest in the subject matter going into the column, I come out interested on the other side EVERY time. I’m getting to where I look forward to reading the Reflections column as much if not more than the stories.

I just read your review of Among Others, it sounds stunningly beautiful, just the cure for the mediocre I’ve been reading lately. and when I tried to interlibrary loan it, no one has a copy available yet! How dare they not have copies of a book that came out last week!

If you get the chance, I highly recommend Silverberg’s “Lord Valentine’s Castle”.

Hey, pop back over to my site and ask to be included in the drawing. You’re not too late, it ends tomorrow night. You might just end up winning it if the hand of fate smiles upon you!

And thanks for the recommendation. I’ve actually heard of that story.

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