Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lord of Light” as Want to Read:
Lord of Light
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lord of Light

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  18,270 ratings  ·  868 reviews
Imagine a distant world where gods, including Kali, Brahma, Krishna and Buddha, 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 enmity. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world?
Unknown Binding, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Not Avail (first published January 1st 1967)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lord of Light, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Nate No, it's not necessary. I don't know very much about either, and I enjoyed the book immensely. However, I do think knowing something about Hinduism,…moreNo, it's not necessary. I don't know very much about either, and I enjoyed the book immensely. However, I do think knowing something about Hinduism, in particular, would enhance your experience. Just keep in mind that Zelazny isn't trying to present you with a highly authentic view of these religions, nor would it even make sense to do that given the story that he is telling. If you are very familiar with the religious background, it might actually diminish your enjoyment of the book.(less)
Nate This is a nonsensical question. This is a novel, not a role-playing game.

The character has the powers that he has. A more appropriate question is,…more
This is a nonsensical question. This is a novel, not a role-playing game.

The character has the powers that he has. A more appropriate question is, does the story that's told about this character make sense for a character with such powers? It does.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Nandakishore Varma
Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment at the foot of the Bodhi tree and became the Buddha: his teachings swept across India, striking at the roots of decadent Brahmanism. The Hindu priests were understandably alarmed, but were helpless against the doctrine of the eightfold path as the stale air inside a room against the tempest raging outside. So they did the clever thing: after the Buddha's passing, they assimilated him and made him an avatar of Vishnu (in fact, they licked him by joining hi ...more
People left the dying Earth and found a habitable planet. Thanks to their advanced technology they conquered or subdued local life forms and established themselves as dominant race. The highly advanced technology allowed some of them literally play gods using Hindu mythology as the basis. We all know the power corrupts, so the whole system became very corrupted very fast. Enter a guy who decided to change the way things work. His name is Mahasamatman, or Sam for short - this is how he prefers to ...more
30Apr2014(ebook): I'm reading this with Sci-fi & Heroic Fantasy group
& I like it better each time I read it. It makes far more sense after the first read, like so many of Zelazny's books, so I can concentrate more on the variety of flavors. Even knowing the ending doesn't hurt. Super ending, too.

Several have mentioned that the story is confusing. If it's your first time reading it, be aware that he intended to publish it as a serial & wrote it
Dan Schwent
I don't even know where to start on this one. Roger Zelazny solidified his position on my favorite authors list with Lord of Light. It's the best writing of his that I've come across so far.

The Plot: Long story short, immortals from Earth set up shop on another world and assumed the guise of Hindu gods. Sam, aka Buddha, Siddhartha, Kalkin, etc., opposes them in each of his lifetimes, reviving Buddhism as a tool in his quest. The final confrontation doesn't disappoint.

As other reviewers have sai
Lois Bujold
Apr 24, 2014 Lois Bujold rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF and fantasy readers
Recommended to Lois by: John Ayotte, in 1968

I first read this book back in the late 60s, when it was brand new and nothing like it had appeared in SF before. I found it brilliant and mysterious, the latter in part because back in my teens I knew so little about the Hindu and Buddhist religions and myths Zelazny was spinning off. I am at least somewhat less ignorant nowadays, if not hugely so.

I still think the book is brilliant, but not nearly so mysterious. It's a bit like looking at faded pictures of your parents, and realizing you are n
6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time" favorites. An absolutely brilliant novel by one of the masters of science fiction. This book is as good as SF gets and ranks up their with Dune and Ender's Game among the best ever. Unlike those other two books, I do believe that this book is MUCH, MUCH better the second time around. The reason for this is that the story jumps around and the background for the story is reavealed slowly so can be a bit confusing at the outset. Therefore, my advice would be to r ...more
How Lord of Light Didn't Get Written

[Rainy, black-and-white movie evening. A 30s style cab pulls up next to a seedy entrance, where a hulking DOORMAN is on guard. A FIGURE wearing a trenchcoat and a battered fedora emerges from the cab and hands the driver a bill.]

FIGURE: [Bogart-style growl] Keep the change, kid. Don't blow it all at once.

[His trenchcoat falls open. Underneath he is dressed like THE LORD BUDDHA. Reaction shot of the wide-eyed DRIVER]

DRIVER: You're the Mahasamat-

FIGURE: Call me
[Originally read July 30, 2010-August 8, 2010]

I've long been a fan of Zelazny's Amber series, and in the past, I've heard that he once penned a story that could be even better: Lord of Light. I just finished Lord of Light, and I have to say: I still give the title of "Best Zelazny Story" to the Amber series. But it was a damn close race.

I'm not normally a science-fiction type of guy (fantasy and horror are more to my liking), so I was a little worried going into this book. Even though Zelazny is
Apr 02, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Jim MacLachlan
Mar 01, 2013 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of profound sci-fi/fantasy
Recommended to Eric by: Mike Reineke
The front cover of this book labels Lord of Light "The Legendary SF Classic," and the blurb on the back cover begins:
Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology...
From these two data points, I was sure I was about to read a straight-forward sci-fi adventure, possibly in the vein of Robert A. Heinlein or Ray Bradbury. What I should have paid more attention to was the gigantic fucking Buddha statue on the front cover, and the conclusion of the bac
There are several elements to this 1967 science-fiction novel.

One is Buddhism and Hinduism, about both of which I know little, but notice some influence. The order of the chapters, with the first chapter dealing with events that occur much later in the narrative than the following couple of chapters, means that the story is structured as a wheel. In the end is the beginning. There could be a continual cycle of death and rebirth in this world with individuals moving through lives and patterns of
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile

I had a bit of a hard time following what was going on, at times, with this book. Not because of the so-called non-linear* nature of the story, but mostly just because there were a lot of characters, several of whom at multiple names, and some of which kept changing into other characters.

Also, the general writing style made it hard for me to visualize what was going on in the action sequences sometimes. And there were long bits of dialogue where after the first two lines it doesn't say who's
The Good:
So amazing! Great characters, great setting, great ideas, epic scope, and so well written. This is a science fiction story presented like mythology and it works. Did I mention it's funny too?

The Bad:
The only thing really wrong with this is that the story races ahead of the reader, daring you to try and keep up. It's not often that I think a book should be longer, but in the case of this one it needed more exposition.

'Friends' character the protagonist is most like:
Sam is cynical, driven
Zelazny drops you right into the middle of this story, but if you refuse to be intimidated by the unknown names and tech/magic confusion, you'll be richly repaid. The book's nested layers of reality, paradigm and belief are challenging and beautifully baroque. It's intelligent, wildly imaginative, and daring. I already loved Zelazny, but now I love him even more.
Nutshell: douchebags leave earth, acquire technological immortality, and then, completely reasonably and necessarily, re-enact Hindu mythology.

This concludes my reading of Zelazny, and confirms the general pattern of prior books: chaotic presentation, no discipline, immortal protagonists, silly resolutions. This one tries to do something with Hindu mythology and buddhist theology, much like Creatures of Light and Darkness messed with Egypt and This Immortal flirted with Greece.

Opening section h
John Wiswell
No one I know of is writing like this today, and no book in recent memory has inspired so much envy in me. It has novelty and nuance from its first to its final paragraphs. For an hour after going to the porch to finish it, people saw my expressions and asked me what was wrong, because I was so preoccupied with what I’d just read. Lord of Light, published in 1967, is ahead of the Science Fiction of this time in 2012.

If you missed it, Lord of Light is about a space colony in which those possessi

Lord of Light would stand as one of the oddest works of fantasy/sci-fi I have read. It feels like fantasy, it reads like fantasy, yet it also reads and feels like sci-fi. And that is why I applaud it as a book with an ambitious scheme and plan, yet with one not executed quite to perfection.

The book itself seems to follow a path of Hindu mythology/religion, giving faces to a bunch of gods and demons according to this path. True to form, the book even highlights the assimilation nature and hierar
One of the best science fiction novels I have ever read. Even though this is under 200 pages, this story took me a while both to get into and to follow as the world that Zelazny has created is a crazy mixture of Hindu gods and high technology. The story feels like an ancient mythological epic set to science fiction. Once I got the gist of the story I was amazed at its brilliance. I can see myself reading this one several more times in the coming years.
I first read this book a good while ago, sometime in high school. I'm sure now that I didn't fully appreciate it. I just used this book in my AP English class, and I think that I'm closer to appreciating it now.

Roger Zelazny is a writer who packs a lot into a story, yet makes it very easily readable. Zelazny said in some interviews that he was usually reading 6 or 7 books at a time, in fields from history to the hard and social sciences to mythology or religion to literature and speculative fict
Well, this was a weird book. Weird in a good way!

I went into Lord of Light knowing only it was considered a Sci-fi classic, if nothing else. But when the book begins it reads mostly like a fantasy book. Things happen, machines are involved but everything seems to be fueled more by magic than science. It was weird, interesting for sure but weird.

Lord of Light is also beautifully written, the languages used in here is very flourish, there are massive walls of text just to say how a character felt
this one is le-gen-waitforit-dary, as in the stuff that myths are made of. It could be considered as a memory of our distant past or a glimpse of our future - a multigenerational spaceship that arrives on prehistoric Earth and lays the seeds of civilization as we know it, or the same multigenerational ship that is sent from Earth to colonize the distant stars. I have read some of these ideas in Erich von Daniken slightly provocative speculations from the 70's, but Zelazny does a much better job ...more
Jan 14, 2011 Kane rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: re-read types
"His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god."

"Enig*ma (noun) : something hard to understand or explain." I have only read Lord of Light once, and I think a proper review would require a re-read. That being said, here goes.

First the good news. I loved being dropped into the middle of Zelazny's incomprehensible world without so m
Lord of Light reads like mythology, with occasional, subtle dips into science fiction. The technology is of the sufficiently advanced variety, that looks and acts like magic. Or divine powers, as the case may be. The mythology is heavily borrowed from Hinduism and Buddhism. I know very little about either, and I kept wondering what somebody who did would think of all of this.

Maybe it just hit me at the wrong time, but although this was a pleasant read it didn't blow me the way, the way it has so
Florin Pitea
A wonderful science fantasy tale wonderfully told. Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity are mixed in an exotic story of planet colonization, cloning, conflict and revolt. Worth reading and re-reading, especially in the original version. Highly recommended.
Jared Vincent Lacaran
Lord of Light. Well, what can I say with this one? This book left me pretty speechless. It’s just so motherfucking fantastic. And when you consider the fact that this shit was published way back in 1967, well...


Anyway, this book is based on Hindu-Buddhist legends, and, honestly, it’s quite a reprieve from all of those countless novels based upon Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). Unlike others who have read this book, I am quite familiar with Hindu-Buddhist myths, despite no
I had this on TBR status for too long to confess. Long. Even before a friend highly recommended it, about oh 6 years ago and I felt guilty then I still had it waiting TBR, and told myself: soon. It was one of my challenges for 2011, to get this read, and with some help from a goodreads group, here it is.

All that said, I am uncertain if it was worth reading or not. The numeric rating for once feels easy to give, but I am not sure if I am glad I read it or if I regret it. It is so 1960s sf for go
Ali Çetinbudaklar
Ya ben ne diyeceğimi bilemiyorum.Başlarken tamam farklı bir bilim kurgu okuyacağım biraz sıradanlıktan uzaklaşayım,Zelazny zaten hafif fantastik ögeler katar diyordum.Ama o da ne!!!Resmen adam Hindu Mitolojisi-Budizm üzerine az biraz bilimkurgu ile inanılmaz özgün bir roman yaratmış.Hindu mitinden sadece Shiza'yı doğru düzgün bilen biri olarak, bütün tanrıları teker teker öğretti bu romanda.

Konumuz; yeni bir gezegene koloni kurmak için gidenlerden, öncüler, bir takım psikolojik ve mutant güçleri
Jelena Cvetković
I think this is an excellent vision of 'great power and great responsibility' motive. Would the gods allow mortals progress? Would the gods allow mortals progress if that would compromise their superiority? How long can you play a role of a god until you believed your own lie?
Zelazny seems to like the idea of human (or super-human) gods, and he plays it well.

(I did not read the synopsis before starting the book, so I was slow to catch on that this is in fact science fiction. But once I got that.
Teijo Aflecht
The premise is fascinating, but the finished product a mixed bag at best. Putting together sci-fi and the (in the West) usually less explored religions of Hinduism and Buddhism could be a recipe for a great story.

After the initial introduction I thought the backstory could have been told much quicker, but instead it took 80% of the book. I didn't think much of Zelazny's prose either to be honest. It didn't make me feel much of anything and seemed overly complicated. Some of the characters were
Dan's Obsessions

Re reading a few chapters, to clear the 'memory banks' from the dust in my mind
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sci-fi and Heroic...: Lord of Light 39 178 Jun 03, 2015 05:23PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine needed 3 15 Jan 18, 2015 11:24AM  
One of the greats 3 35 Jul 25, 2014 07:54AM  
The Evolution of ...: June 2014 Group Read - Lord of Light 34 29 Jul 23, 2014 05:29PM  
Reddit SF Book Club: 'Lord of Light' by Roger Zelazny is the December Selection 1 14 Dec 05, 2011 10:45AM  
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • They'd Rather Be Right
  • The Big Time
  • The Complete Roderick
  • The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1)
  • The Rediscovery of Man
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • Stand on Zanzibar
  • Dreamsnake
  • Way Station
  • Non-Stop
  • Behold the Man
  • Dying Inside
  • Downbelow Station (The Company Wars, #1)
  • The Fifth Head of Cerberus
  • The Einstein Intersection
  • Pavane
  • Dark Benediction
Roger Zelazny made his name with a group of novellas which demonstrated just how intense an emotional charge could be generated by the stock imagery of sf; the most famous of these is 'A Rose for Ecclesiastes' in which a poet struggles to convince dying and sterile Martians that life is worth continuing. Zelazny continued to write excellent short stories throughout his career. Most of his novels d ...more
More about Roger Zelazny...

Share This Book

“No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words.” 119 likes
“The day of battle dawned pink as the fresh-bitten thigh of a maiden.” 29 likes
More quotes…