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Readers’ Choice: Lord Valentine’s Castle

OK, there’s probably no point denying it. This week has been a bit of a Robert Silverberg love-in. We’ve had Tales of Majipoor as New Book of the Week and the magnificent Dying Inside as SF Masterwork of the Week – both eminently deserving of attention – and it seemed churlish to deny of the true greats of the genre a hat trick, so here we are.

This week’s Readers’ Choice, as chosen by Gollancz editor extraordinaire Marcus Gipps, is Robert Silverberg‘s enthralling, magical, how-the-hell-did-it-not-win-the-Hugo-Award Lord Valentine’s Castle.

Set in an immense world teeming with alien races and fantastic, almost magical, machinery, Valentine, an itinerant juggler, wakes up one morning with only a vague and troubled idea of who he is. He gradually discovers, through dreams and portents, that he is in fact his namesake: Lord Valentine, the Coronal, his body and throne stolen by a usurper.

Across the giant world of Majipoor, Valentine sets out on a quest to win back his throne – and discover which of his enemies has the power to vanquish him so utterly from not just his throne, but his very life . . .

Lord Valentine’s Castle is an utterly beguiling book – a novel that feels like fantasy but thinks like science fiction and pulls of the great feat of displaying all the strengths of both sub-genres without any of the weaknesses of either. It is a majestic novel; one of the truly great works of modern SF. But it’s not just us that thinks so; some of the world’s major broadsheets lined up to praise it . . .

‘Silverberg’s invention is prodigious . . . like a competent juggler, he maintains his rhythm and suspense to the end’
Times Literary Supplement

‘There are two things that abide: absolute awe at Silverberg’s capacity for creating images . . . and the compassion that colours every word’
Washington Post

‘Spectacularly readable . . . it bears comparison with Frank Herbert’s Dune’
The Times


We’d like to leave the last word to Marcus, though:

There are a lot of fantastic books available on the SF Gateway (and a lot more to come), but if I’m honest, when I heard about the project, the book that made me most excited – even though I own it in paperback – was Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg.

Lord Valentine’s Castle: a modern classic of the genre, and this week’s Readers’ Choice.