Lord Valentine is the Pontifex of Majipoor, the man who runs the bureaucracy of the planet of Majipoor. Valentine was once the public face of the planet's government, the Coronal, but now he works behind the scenes to get things done. Humans are the major race on Majipoor, but at least six other races call Majipoor home, including the shapeshifting natives called the Piurivars.
The humans had fought a war with the Piurivars, who were angry with the humans for invading their home, actually, they were angry with all the other races, but as humans were the rulers, it was mostly the humans that the Piurivars fought with. Since the Piurivars are shapeshifters, the war against them was hard, until methods were found to detect them- and now they are mostly confined to a reservation on one of the continents of Majipoor.
Valentine has been pursuing a private project, an archaeological excavation of an old and forgotten Piurivar city known as Velalisier. Now, the main archaeologist at the dig is dead, and his second in command, Magadone Sambisa, is in charge. Valentine is sleeping and having odd and strange dreams when his servant, a Piurivar, Aarisiim, wakes him.
It seems that the former leader of the dig, Dr. Huukaminaan, had discovered at the edge of the city, a special grave. Not a Piurivar burial, but the burial of a Pontifex. He and Magadone Sambisa had quarreled over whether or not the grave should be opened. He wanted to, but she disagreed. Now, Dr. Huukaminaan is dead, and Sambisa has warned everyone on the expedition not to mention the burial to anyone.
Truth will out, of course, and Valentine has now learned of the burial, and wants to investigate it immediately. and he also wants to find out who really killed Dr. Huukaminaan but will the truth implicate Magadone Sambisa, or will it show that she is innocent?
This is less a graphic novel than a short story with pictures. Most of the page is taken up by words, with pictures of the characters. It's nice and evocative, but I picked it up hoping it would introduce me to the world of Lord Valentine, and it didn't really. It's just a regular story with pictures of the characters.
It's not even particularly well-edited. I noticed a few times where words were either cut off or awkwardly hyphenated in the middle of a sentence or paragraph. Someone needed to do a good bit more editing before this book was released. It just conveyed an air of sloppiness that didn't bode well for the other parts of the story.
The art was good, but the concept art in the back looked, well, off is the best way I can put it. All the characters seemed abnormally short and dumpy-looking- the humans, that is. The other aliens looked just fine, but the humans looked like they should have been human dwarfs with Pseudoachondroplasia- there is just something off about them. On the other hand, the artwork for the actual story was much better- perhaps because there were so few full human figures shown, and the few that were are mostly shown in shadow. I should also note that the artwork was painted rather than drawn and colored, so that was nice, too.
In any case, this book was less than successful for me. The story needed better editing, and the artwork was nice, but mostly very dark, making a lot of it hard to see. This isn't something I'd recommend to anyone unless they were a rabid fan of Robert Silverberg. Not recommended.