Lord Valentine’s CastleFebruary 9, 2013
Lord Valentine’s Castle is not one of Silverberg’s best. Reading this book is just like watching a PG-13 movies for a supposed Rated movies.
First, the story is so simple. A rightful king, trying to regain his rightful throne from his usurper. Throughout his journey to become a king, he gathered friends and loyalists, later become his most trustful servants. Simple. Less than one paragraph. It might work for a story written for RPG or adventure computer game, but for a novel? Na…
The plot is simple. Only the beginning part is interesting. But once it is clear that this is all about an exiled king trying to regain his throne, the plot is a bore. It is truly like playing an RPG computer game. The hero gathered companions during his quest, a human female consort and male followers, a giant, a wizard, some aliens, in and off-planet, and then later some other followers. He traveled from one exotic location to another location. Having to solve puzzles and problems before he can advance into another location (should I say stage?) Sounds like an adventure game right? Fortunately, Silverberg knows how to write. Even though the plot is crumbling apart, his writing is still readable.
Secondly, the genre. I don’t know why some classify this book into sci-fi genre. It is not a sci-fi novel. You can easily change the race of aliens in this book into dwarves, elves, throlls, gnomes, goblins, or whatever magical creature that you like, without affecting the story at all. It is a fantasy book. By introducing some aliens in this book does not make it a sci-fi book.
If you want to classify it as a sci-fi book, it is a bad sci-fi. How could the author explains a giant terrestrial planet, governed by a central figure, a king (or Coronal in the story), with only medieval technology. The city is populated up to tens of millions! It is impossible for populations that big to live in a huge city without proper technology. Surely they cannot depends on mounts to move from one point to another, not to mention how they move the commodities (unless you use some extraordinary magic, which is not the case in this book). And the population of the planet surpass ten billions! How to feed all of those people without technology? It is just not sustainable.
Verdict: two is enough.