the Little Red Reviewer

Valentine Illustrated story – a rare find

Posted on: June 20, 2011

The Seventh Shrine, Vol 1. Written by Robert Silverberg, artwork by Anders Finer

Published in 2005

where I got it: purchased new

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If it’s got Robert Silverberg’s name on it, I’ll probably read it. A master of sci-fantasy, Silverberg has written dozens of novels and short stories. I adore his original Valentine stories, and even though The Mountains of Majirpoor didn’t do much for me,  I’ve always got my eye out for anything Silverberg.  Which is why my eyes lit up like supernovas when I saw his name on the front of a Valentine graphic novel. Quick like a fox, that book was going to be mine!

With painterly full color art complimenting Silverberg’s short story,  The Seventh Shrine is more an illustrated story. I have no idea if this is a “rare” book, but it sure feels like one.  Valentine Pontifex has escaped the dreariness of the Labyrinth to investigate a strange murder at an archaeological dig. The Pontifex is not supposed to leave the Labyrinth, but Valentine has always been one to bend royal rules to fit the life he wants to lead.

As Magadone Sambisa, the leader of the archaeological excavation explains, humans were not the first race to live on Majipoor. Before we came, Majipoor was covered with the indigenous shapeshifters metamorphs, who call themselves Piurivars. Many thousands of years later, humans rule the land, and the Piurivars who remain are seen as filthy natives and often forced to live in ghettos. After all, what human could possibly be expected to trust someone who can change their face in an instant?  In a showing of peaceful good faith, Valentine ruled that the ancient Piurivar ruins should be respected, and in some cases excavated for further understanding between both races.

Everything was going great at the site until the body of the lead Metamorph archaeologist was found. In multiple pieces. Who would have wanted him dead? And everyone knows only metamorphs kill other metamorphs. As Valentine says, no one is a suspect, and everyone is.   As he questions the archeologists, Magadone insists on showing him into one of the crumbling pyramid shrines.  It was deep in this shrine, in a place of ritual murder and destruction that the murdered Metamorph’s head had been found.

so, was it murder? or was it a religious ritual?  Ending on a cliffhanger, I was reminded why I wait for these skinny graphic novels to come out in Volume format, so I’ve got the entire story at my fingertips!  Back to the comic shop with me!

Regardless of if I find out what happens at the end or not, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with Valentine.   A crown offered and then stolen away, employed for years as an itinerant juggler, surrounded in his youth by aliens and humans alike, he has a very humble and realistic outlook of the world.  A rare  kind of ruler indeed.   And now I have the urge to learn how to juggle.

But wait, can you read this if you’ve never read a Valentine story? This takes place a little later in Valentine’s life, but you can certainly read it as your first. Both the lead archaeologist Magadone, and Valentine, take opportunities to teach each other (and the reader) about the world as they know it.  The Seventh Shrine was certainly worth the read, and I know I’ll be looking for more issues.

speaking of, does anyone know if anymore issues of this were ever made? I’d really like to find out what happens at the end!

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4 Responses to "Valentine Illustrated story – a rare find"

This of course begs the question about where one should start with Silverberg. I haven’t read more than a short story or two. However, I love his columns in Asimov’s. I generally buy them every time they come out now and a large draw is Silverberg’s articles.

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depends on if you want scifi, or sci-fantasy. he’s got a lot of great stand alone scifi novels and novellas, The World Inside is excellent, kind of a satirical look at scifi that concerned itself with the population explosion. If you’re looking for something sci-fantasy-ish, start with the first Valentine novel, which I think is Lord Valentine’s Castle.

now I’m gonna hafta be on the look out for Asimov’s. . .i haven’t bought that in years.

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I have this book, but I have not read it yet. I might soon.

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do you have just this issue, or the entire story, in a volume? I want to know if they finished it!!!

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