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Lord Of Light (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Roger Zelazny
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 April 1999 S.F. MASTERWORKS

Imagine a distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers. Here they have made the stage on which they build a subtle pattern of alliance, love, and deadly enmity. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world?

Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam. The gradual unfolding of the story -- how the colonization of another planet became a re-enactment of Eastern mythology -- is one of the great imaginative feats of modern science fiction.



Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (8 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857988205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857988208
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,299 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought-provoking 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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cynical Enlightened Sam 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
5.0 out of 5 stars True Classic 10 April 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolute power corrupting absolutely 12 Feb 2003
Format:Paperback
From the Nineteen Sixties comes Zelazny’s imaginative and psychedelic vision of a human colony run amok on a distant planet. The settlers, endowed with fantastic technology, are given powers which allow them not only to take on the roles of the Gods of the Hindu pantheon, but to make reincarnation a reality.
Those deemed worthy are reborn in new vat-grown bodies while those deemed less karma credit-worthy come back as animals, or sometimes not at all.
The novel follows Sam, who is Mahasamatman, Binder of Demons, Lord of Light, aka Siddhartha; Tagatha; Buddha…etc etc. Unhappy with the decadent behaviour of his fellow Gods he plans a revolt against Heaven to end the inequality between them and their worshippers.
It’s an absurd premise, but Zelazny’s masterful style transforms it into a credible and compelling novel.
It’s written in the language of Myth and Legend – interspersed with relevant passages from the Upanishads – which is occasionally, and sometimes amusingly, dragged into the focus of reality by Sam’s laconic ‘Urath’ wit and terminology.
For all its mythic nuances and Science Fantasy shell, ‘Lord of Light’ is rooted very solidly in Science Fiction. Although occasionally drawn into the psychedelic and fantastic world of Gods and Demons we are always drawn back to the fact that these creatures were once human, changed beyond recognition by what are merely very powerful toys.
Zelazny explores this theme again later in his Amber series, where Corwin (like Sam) is estranged from what is essentially a family of Gods and is forced by circumstance to return to bring change to their somewhat stagnant and decadent society.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic mix of the ancient and the futuristic
I am inclined to like to read science fiction which engages in speculative futurism but of the kind which involves appraisals of the uses of religion, norms and mores over vast... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lark
5.0 out of 5 stars Light shines brightly.
This is an excellent book, which can be read many times, each time discovering new details that delight. I love the use of the Hindu pantheon in the story line. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr Devesh Sharma
5.0 out of 5 stars Lord of Light review
One of the best sci-fi books,if not the best.Quite complicated, needs re-reading several times to get the best out of it, well worth it. Read more
Published 9 months ago by John Lees
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
Like many of the books from the Gollancz collection of masterpieces, this is a must read for SF lovers and beyond. For a better review, look it up on Wikipedia.
Published 13 months ago by antoine petit
5.0 out of 5 stars Dam Americans
One of my very favourite story's that can never be a film because of those thoughtless Americans using it as a screenplay for a film they never intended to make. Argo
Published 13 months ago by I. Langbridge
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best.
This is a wonderful mixture of science and religion.

We see quite believable human behaviour where given the choice to use or share high technology those in charge... Read more
Published 16 months ago by plot hound
5.0 out of 5 stars A Science Fantasy masterpiece
I first read Lord of Light when it was published in 1967. I return to it every 5 years or so even though I have to buy a new copy as I lend the book to my friends and never get it... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Master HR
3.0 out of 5 stars Its pretty good. but a little annoying in places and hard to follow
Ya its good but a little annoying and hard to follow in places. I am not to keen on the premise.
Published on 28 May 2012 by Rory O'brien
5.0 out of 5 stars 1967 Lord of Light ( not first edition like it shows on cover)
his book was printed in 1967 in USA, by the same company who printed 1st editions earlier same year. But this is NOT 1st edition. Read more
Published on 5 April 2012 by alpha
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it
There's a quote from George R.R. Martin on the cover of this book. It says, quite boldly I think, that it is "one of the five best sf novels ever written". Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2012 by Steve D
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