Completing the Prestimion trilogy and, we’re told, bringing the entire fantasy/SF Majipoor Cycle (Lord Prestimion, 2000, etc.) to a conclusion. On the giant planet Majipoor, humans live alongside dozens of alien species; all are ruled by a human Coronal (King) and Pontifex (Emperor). The current Pontifex, old Confalume, may or may not be dying, so the present Coronal, Prestimion, may or may not soon become Pontifex; and Prestimion’s anointed successor, Dekkeret, may or may not be crowned Coronal. Dekkeret may or may not marry his lover, Fulkari, who’s reluctant to become the wife of a Coronal. So much for narrative tension. Meanwhile, on the continent of Zimroel, where 20 years ago Prestimion crushed the rebellious Procurator Dantirya Sambail in a ruinous war, Mandralisca, Sambail’s evil henchman, incites another revolt by making extravagant promises to Sambail’s five stupid, oafish sons. Mandralisca has obtained an improved version of the mind-coercing helmets used to great effect in the previous struggle. This time, though, Mandralisca intends to strike at Prestimion’s family, driving them to despair, madness, and death. In due course, Confalume dies, and Prestimion’s new battle with Mandralisca begins.
Turgid—sentences swell into paragraphs, paragraphs bloat into pages, pages expand to fill entire chapters—though empty of wit, zest, or creativity: the terminal episode in a hitherto interminable series subsides with no more than a tiny gasp.