cover image Sorcerers of Majipoor

Sorcerers of Majipoor

Robert Silverberg. HarperPrism, $23 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-06-105254-5

In the palace called the Labyrinth, deep within the bowels of the gigantic world of Majipoor, the planetary ruler known as the Pontifex lies near death. As is traditional, he will be succeeded by Majipoor's other ruler, the Coronal Lord Confalume. But who will succeed the Coronal? Though no official selection has been made, Prince Prestimion is the favorite. Korsibar, the Coronal's son, is more popular and cuts a more striking figure, but by tradition he can't succeed his father. Even so, Korsibar, egged on by an ambitious sister, a mysterious alien sorcerer and some unscrupulous councilors, aims to break tradition and to use magic to seize the throne. The result is civil war. Silverberg, who published his first SF novel in 1955, paints an enormous and elaborate canvas in this fifth volume in his Majipoor Cycle (The Mountains of Majipoor, etc.). Prestimion and Korsibar are well-drawn characters, at once highly talented and flawed, and they are surrounded by a colorful cast of eccentric rogues, enigmatic aliens and double-dealing noblemen. The Majipoor series, clearly a descendent of Jack Vance's Big Planet (1952), features a wide range of striking landscapes and odd cultures, although Silverberg lacks Vance's talent for ironic understatement. Some readers may find the book overwritten and too long, but fans of the series will find much to enjoy here. (Aug.)