Lord Valentine’s Castle, by Robert Silverberg

My admission a few years back that I hadn’t read this evoked responses of varying enthusiasm. It’s Silverberg’s most popular novel by far on both LibraryThing and Goodreads, and I had really really intended to read it when it first came out in 1980, but somehow never got round to it. (Memory is tricky – I was sure I’d seen Dave Langford reviewing it in White Dwarf around that time, but it looks like he didn’t.)

Anyway, it was a serious effort to shift Silverberg’s output from SF to big commercial fantasy, clearly drawing on older models, particularly Zelazny (amnesiac hero discovers that his crown has been usurped) and Vance (adventures across a world of varying magical creatures). We’ve had an awful lot more of that kind of thing since, and though some of it has been done better, most of it has been done worse. The setting of the multi-species travelling circus is nicely developed. The general thrust is uplifting – it’s not just about divine right of kings, it’s also about earning the right to rule through sufficient popular support (and, er, winning the battle at the end of the book). It was as much fun as I hoped it would be, but I don’t feel any particular urge to track down and read the sequels.

One thought on “Lord Valentine’s Castle, by Robert Silverberg

  1. I found it notable that although I won, I came in fourth in nominations, behind Lou Anders, Sheila Gilbert, and Liz Gorinsky. In fact, this is the second year in a row that Liz (who works for me) has received more nominations than I did.

    I’m actually chuffed by this; Liz is great. When she was first a finalist, in 2010 (Aussiecon 4), it marked the first time an editor _and_ their assistant had been finalists together. I won that year, but I was also carrying Liz’s acceptance speech just in case.

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