Henghis Hapthorn, freelance discriminator, is hired to investigate the suitor to Lord Alfre's daughter. His case takes him to several planets and leads him on an assignment from the Archon himself. But how will his second personality cope with things? And what does the word Majestrum have to do with the case?
Majestrum is set in the Penultimate Age of Old Earth, an age immediately preceding The Dying Earth of Jack Vance, an age where magic is making a comeback. Henghis Hapthorn is a lot like Sherlock Holmes if Sherlock Holmes had a second personality that was rooted in magic, or sympathetic association, if you prefer, instead of science.
Majestrum is a good read. The intertwining mysteries were well done and actually solvable by the reader, a rarity in the sf-mystery genre. Henghis Hapthorn's interplay with his Integrator and his second personality are the driving force of the novel and make for some laughs and also raise philosophical questions. Majestrum, the villain of the piece, was fairly chilling, even though he had a touch of the stereotype fantasy big villain feel to him. Hughes's writing is clearly influenced by Jack Vance and P.G. Wodehouse and thus quite enjoyable to read.
So why only a 4? I felt like I was stepping into the middle of the story. While this is the first Henghis Hapthorn novel, it continues on the thread of one of the six short stories that preceded it. I felt a bit lost at first but quickly caught on.
I recommend this book to fans of genre-busting mysteries, P.G. Wodehouse, and Jack Vance. It was quite entertaining.