Another in the long-running Majipoor tales. This time, however, Silverberg produces a prequel to the events that took place prior to ‘The End of the Line’ all they way back in 1982!
Clearly the story will offer more to someone who is more familiar with the story arc than I am, and it frequently refers to events prior to those in the narrative, so perhaps this story fits in between an even earlier story? For the reader unfamiliar with the story from 1982, as I, the story in hand features Stiamot, a nobleman in the court of the Coronal Lord Strelkimar, visiting a far flung town to prepare for the imminent visit of the lord. Stiamot has come with a secondary agenda, to find out more about the indigineous species, the ‘Shapeshifters’, whom the human settlers had displaced millenia ago when arriving from Earth.
To aid him in his fact-finding, there is Mundiveen, an awkard customer, whose broken body and similarly twisted personality hint at dark deeds in his past. When the Coronal arrives, he is also harbouring hidden issues. We find out exactly what in the dramatic denouement.
As to the story’s value as an addition to a body of work in the Majipoor series, I can’t really comment. As a singleton, it didn’t grab me anywhere near as much as ‘The Way They Wove The Spells in Sippulgar’, from F&SF Oct/Nov 2009, the only other story on Best SF in which the term Majipoor appears.