By Robert Silverberg
Valentine Pontifex is the third volume in the Marjipoor series by Robert Silverberg.
I’m afraid that there’s no nice way of saying this so I’ll just get over with it: This is probably the most boring book Silverberg has ever written. Valentine Pontifex is divided into five parts and I can easily summarise everything of importance that happens in the first three parts in five lines: Valentine worries about the state of Majipoor. The Shapeshifters are brewing on some kind of plan. There’s something strange about the Sea-dragons. Hissume is trained to be Coronal. Valentine worries some more about the state of Majipoor. 333 pages out of 475 pages, with goes endlessly on and on with nothing really happening. Hey, you are saying – "did you just spoil most of the story for me?" No I didn’t – yes, I told you the contents of over half the book, but I didn’t tell you much more than it says on the back of the book. I seriously suggest that you jump directly to section four ("The Book of the Pontifix") and just read from there. You’ll easily pick-up on the story and I already told you everything that you need to know from the first three parts.
I’m not sure what went wrong here. There is potential for a great book in the story; the Shapeshifters are on the warpath and Valentine is standing before the biggest challenge in his life, which he then talks about for over three hundred pages, without doing anything. The last hundred and fifty pages are very good, especially compared to the first part. But that is just too little too late.
Written on 1st February 2002 by TC .