on 30 October 2009
A heart-breakingly beautiful work by possibly the greatest fantasy writer of our age, NIGHT'S MASTER is the first book in Tanith Lee's 5-volume "Flat Earth" series.
For anyone who hasn't read this saga before, it's imperative that you start with this volume. All the later volumes refer back to it and it's well-nigh impossible to make sense of the mammoth epic DELIRIUM'S MISTRESS (volume 4) unless you know the earlier books.
NIGHT'S MASTER is not a novel but a trilogy of interlinking novellas. The central character that unites them is Azhrarn, Prince of Demons - dark, seductive, bisexual, all-powerful and wholly irresistible. In a perverse twist, this Lord of Darkness actually sacrifices himself to save humanity from destroying itself, becoming a sort of 'dark Christ' figure.
The novella format works brilliantly because (and I say this as a fan) Tanith Lee is an infinitely better writer of short fiction than of full-length novels.
Unmissable for anybody who loves her work!
on 15 June 2016
The brilliant author died last May, such a loss! I love this series since it was first translated in Japanese over 20 odd years ago and still have them. She wrote many different fantastical, magical, erotic and with lots of intrigues and twists of tales, this is one of the best of hers and in all the world. I think she won an international award by one of these. Shame that some of her books are out of print, publishers!
on 14 August 2015
Very sad to read of the untimely passing of Tanith Lee in June 2015, and for anyone new to her work or yet to sample the Flat Earth series that begins here with Night's Master, I can give this book a profound and resounding recommendation on many levels - as an exotic tapas of dovetailed storytelling in the finest tradition of thoughtful, inventive and knowing fairy tale (with a natural storyteller's voice - less academic than Angela Carter, less postmodern than Borges), with all the correct rhythm and purpose of the traditional form; as a feast of shimmering prose, clever evocations of a baroque and atmospheric alter-world yet familiar enough not to be opaque or self-indulgently complex; as unexpectedly ambiguous moral fables with unpredictable outcomes, more akin to the ancient Greek mythology in its more uninhibited manifestations where sex and death are companions to arbitrary gifts and capricious punishments; and as a damn fine read whatever the time, place or age you happen to come upon it.
To attempt synopsis would be an injustice to these delightful and intoxicating delicacies - the stories are simple enough in narrative terms, but told with a wonderful mixture of compassion and playfulness. A flat earth with a few castes of underearth-dwelling demons and demonic entourage, a human world of all the usual shades, with a grown-up sprinkling of greed, lust, romance and sorcery, and the distant uncaring gods of the sky. Each story grows like the thread of a Grimm or Perrault - a cruel king, a blind poet, two brothers - yet spirals out of comfort and almost out of control whilst keeping the melody and rhythm of fable. Everything is familiar enough, a digestible cosmology and gently exotic names (with none of the philological obsessiveness of Tolkien), yet intriguing and uninhibited, perhaps in the way of jack Vance's Dying Earth stories, but without even Vance's basic assurance that certain characters will tend to survive and prosper,
In fact Vance is a reasonable reference point, apart from the fact that Tanith Lee writes so much more strongly of, about and as women, non-judgmental and unsentimental, articulating inner forces, outward injustices and yet allowing the greater empowerment that women sometimes have in fairy tales, where great queens, sorceresses or brave, innocent girls can be the prime movers at all points on the moral scale. The Flat Earth series develops into the story of Sovaz/Azrhiaz in later volumes, a superbly delineated archetype, quintessentially female in both her wilful power and her vulnerability and sacrifice, and this volume offers a portent with the empowered and vengeful queen who traps the mighty demon lord with cleverness and sorcery.
Most of all these stories are simply delicious! The food analogy is irresistible as there are feasts and morsels for all sensibilities - the arch, feminist subversion, the genre fables with their wryly satisfying denouements, the lush rhythm and colour of wordplay that is easily and often described as "arabesque" or "byzantine" but never slows you down, and a compelling central character of implacably uncertain morality. Aproveche!
on 9 December 2013
This is the first book I have ever read by Tanith Lee, I had been hankering for new Fantasy books from different authors when I stumbled across some information about Tanith Lee online. The book is dark in an arabesque fashion, its a decorative fiction with dark themes. Character development is decidedly shallow but understandable for a book written from, the perspective of powerful and beautiful demons who view humans as play things for their infernal mischief. Demon-kind are cold, immortal and merciless but are taught humility when faced with the extinction of human kind on flat earth(to find out why read the book). The separate stories are all woven together to culminate in a climax focusing on Azrahrn the Lord of Darkness who is a chief demon in this tale. I love that the book has metro-sexual overtones, offering something fresh and modern over typical high fantasy novels. All in all a fantastic introduction to Tanith Lee and the Tales of Flat earth series; I need to order and review the next book in the series now (Deaths Master) watch this space.
on 2 November 2010
This was my first Tanith Lee book, and one of my first fantasy novels.. TL opened a whole new world for me, in terms of introducing eroticism to fantasy, and just seeing things from a different perspective to what I had come across until then.. These stories make for an interesting read about Azhrarn, Prince of Darkness.. Loved it!