Silverberg, Robert. (1982). Majipoor Chronicles. Arbor House; New York.
This was the lovely little book that I picked up, purely out of curiosity, in the Little Lending Library along Margaret Street in Waterloo. And how glad I am that I happened to select it! It is a fun collection of short stories detailing the history of Majipoor, the planet which Robert Silverberg created for his ongoing series of novels.
The premise of this particular novel revolves around the boredom of young Hissune, Lord Valentine’s successor-designate and a clerk in the House of Records, who sneaks into the Register of Souls. Here he calls up interesting persons from key points along Majipoor’s history and relives them telepathically. Many themes come up in this diverse set of tales, which include, for example: love between a human female and a Ghayrog, the downfall of a mad king, the struggles of a ship at sea, and dreams of penance in a burning hot desert. Each story is descriptive, exciting, and action-packed.
There is a certain order that the Robert Silverberg novels should be read in to best understand the vast and underpopulated planet of Majipoor (Jon Davis explains on his resource website, in particular here). I jumped into the series with this novel a little late in the game, but will return to the earlier novels (particularly Lord Valentine’s Castle) to fully experience this blended science fiction/fantasy series. Douglas Cohen explains in this article how the mix of fantasy elements (e.g. a young man traveling with a band of supporters to reclaim his throne) and science fiction elements (e.g. advanced technology and manufactured creatures) in Robert’s novels are what makes them unique.
I particularly enjoyed the stories which dealt with the King of Dreams. This role is a governmental one, and reflects the importance of dreams to the residents of Majipoor; dreams are meant to provide wisdom and guidance to individuals. The King of Dreams supplies fear to people’s dreams when they have strayed morally. In contrast, the Lady of the Isle of Sleep is a benevolent, calming, spiritual comforter to people’s slumbering thoughts. The fascinating descriptions of these experiences reminds me of lucid dreaming – a state in which people are aware of their own consciousness during the dream.
Overall, a great novel – I hope that you, too, will consider picking it up to explore the fascinating world of Majipoor!