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Lord Of Light (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 8 Apr 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (8 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857988205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857988208
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

In the 1960s, Roger Zelazny dazzled the SF world with what seemed to be inexhaustible talent and inventiveness. Lord of Light, his third novel and the seventh in Millennium's SF Masterworks series, is his finest book: a science fantasy in which the intricate, colourful mechanisms of Hindu religion, of capricious gods and repeated reincarnations, are wittily underpinned by technology. "For six days he had offered many kilowatts of prayer, but the static kept him from being heard On High." The gods are a starship crew who subdued a colony world, developed godlike--though often machine-enhanced--powers during successive lifetimes of mind transfer to new, cloned bodies and now lord it over descendants of the ship's mere passengers. Their tyranny is opposed by retired god Sam, who mocks the Celestial City, introduces Buddhism to subvert Hindu dogma, allies himself with the planet's native "demons" against Heaven, fights pyrotechnic battles with bizarre troops and weapons, plays dirty with politics and poison and dies horribly but won't stay dead.... It's a huge, lumbering, magical story, told largely in flashback, full of wonderfully ornate language (and one unforgivable pun) that builds up the luminous myth of trickster Sam, Lord of Light. Essential SF reading, despite this edition's tiresome typographic errors. --David Langford

Book Description

One of the very best must-read SF novels of all time. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on 7 Sep 2003
Format: Paperback
In brief: Science fiction meets Hinduism in one of the most surprising, intriguing and enjoyable books I've come across in a while. Highly recommended.
The story centres on an off-Earth colony which has come to be utterly dominated by its founders, who rule with the names, personalities and even the attributes of Hindu gods. With the injection of SF technology, social and political control pivot upon Hindu tenets with a futuristic twist. Reincarnation functions through personality-storage and cloning, allowing effective immortality for the gods, and some very bad karma for any who oppose them. The populace is held in a permanent low-tech state to ensure it continues to need its gods; innovations that might benefit mortals, such as the printing press, are swiftly eradicated.
Stylistically, too, it is brilliant. The whole thing takes the form of a Hindu epic, in terms of both language and structure. The hero, Sam, rebels against the gods by (literally and figuratively) taking on the Buddha role, preaching against the priesthood and the oppressive rituals and strictures which bind society. And through this, Zelazny brings out some of the most interesting implications of his blend of SF and myth, exploring how the 'gods' have merged with their masks to truly _become_ their mythic roles.
Finally, and importantly, _Lord of Light_ also contrives to be a truly entertaining read. Deservedly a classic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 8 May 2003
Format: Paperback
Zelazny was a very bright shooting star when he first appeared on the fantasy/SF radar some 35 years ago, a new writer of power, originality, insight, and depth. Lord of Light was his third novel, and it exemplifies all these qualities in grand style. Combining the Hindu/Buddhist mythos/religion with the science-fictional concepts of true re-incarnation via technology-enabled body swaps, set on world dominated by those who have access to the technology, and are thereby effectively real gods, this book is a powerful statement of character, philosophy, and morality.
One of the main strengths of this book, as we have a large set of fully realized characters, each with their own motivations and desires, whose interactions form a complex weave of happenstance and emotional intertwinings, that give the novel a unique order and flow, and are sure to evoke multiple responses in the reader.
The prose style is more than adequate to the task here, sometimes brilliantly, almost poetically descriptive, at other points understated, leaving items just slightly nebulous, ready for the reader's imagination to complete. And the religious statements will burrow into your mind, forcing little cracks of enlightenment and quiet meditation. The story is not told in linear order, which some may find a little confusing, but as each piece of the story is unfolded and wrapped into the whole, it forms a mosaic that layers in your mind, building a tightly interlocked edifice of strength and stature.
Zelazny here has managed to create an archetype, a legend for modern times, with real relevance to the reader's everyday life, with a great promotion of life philosophies without preaching. Sadly, Roger is no longer with us, there will be no more of these brilliant tour-de-forces, but this will stand as one of his finest gifts to the world. A gift that everyone can enjoy and appreciate.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 April 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a superbly crafted piece of writing which is a proud addition to the SF Masterworks re-releases. Beautifully written with never a wasted word, 'Lord of Light' works perfectly on every level. Thousands of years ago colonists wrested control of a planet from various dangerous indigenous creatures. With their vast technology giving them the ability to 'reincarnate', these people now wield God-like powers over the planets populace who are ignorant of their origins, kept in a state of technological childhood with advances stamped on by the 'wrath of the Gods' in order to maintain control. With the power the original colonists have at their disposal they model themselves on the pantheon of Hindu Gods, with each God having certain responsibilities within the 'Heaven' they keep themselves in. Enter 'Sam', one of the Firstborn original colonists who now believes the people have the right to decide their own destiny without meddling from the Gods. Sam begins to spread the word Buddha amongst the peoples of the planet, often generation after generation, slowly building a separate following of peoples to those beneath the yolk of the Pantheon, attempting to bring about change through peaceful means. But Heaven sees the threat and acts accordingly.
So much goes on in this book that I can do nothing but lessen it by trying to describe what happens in a couple of paragraphs. The book reads in a wonderfully ambiguous way- by never going into details about the technology you get the feeling that you're reading an excerpt from some 'Hindu Myths and Legends' book, then a certain turn of phrase, or a certain Gods power remind you you're reading science fiction.
This is genuinely that very rare thing- a timeless Sci-fi story!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michelle on 8 April 2008
Format: Paperback
My all time favourite. I've read many SF and fantasy books but Lord of Light tops them all. It's not merely the inventive and multi layered story or the enigmatic and intriguing characters, but also the author's brilliant style of writing that makes the book almost perfect. Roger Zelazny was (he died in 1995) a man of very few words, so you have to read his books very precisely, absorbing every word, in order not to miss anything.
Lord of Light is basically about Sam, a renegade 'god' and his resistance against the rule of the established gods. These gods are, in fact, former crew members of a star ship, which crashed on a distant planet millenia ago. After a fierce battle, the crew managed to defeat the planet's indigenous inhabitants and confined them to a far-off place called Hellwell. They adopted the identities of Hindu gods and developed a technique to 'reincarnate' in new -artificial- bodies. They conveniently kept all technical know-how involved in the complicated reincarnation process to themselves, as it proved a highly effective means of keeping their offspring under their thumbs.
Lord of Light is not an easy read, particularly because the story is written in a non-chronological order. At first, this may be quite confusing but it will soon become clear that it is the only way to get the essence of the story properly across. The story itself may seem pretty straightforward, but it is certainly not a linear narrative. There are various aspects woven into it; religious, social, and political matters are dealt with in an almost casual, but awe-inspiring manner. The story's protagonist Sam, a man of many names and identities, is an inspiring individual, a leader and a teacher.
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