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Lilith: A Snake in the Grass (The Four Lords of the Diamond #1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,454 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Somewhere, from among the four human-settled worlds of the Warden Diamond, hostile aliens were spying on Earth. But no agent could be sent to investigate and report back. All trips to the Warden worlds were one-way. There, a microscopic symbiont invaded all life forms, after which life became impossible outside the Warden system. The same organism destroyed any form of mac ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 12th 1981 by Del Rey/Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsPride and Prejudice by Jane AustenHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeA Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Best Beginning
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Classic Science Fiction - 1980-1989
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,105)
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Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
I'm not much of a Chalker fan, but I found these 4 books to be an excellent read. There are 4 worlds of the Diamond & each book addresses life & the peculiarities on a different one. We see each world & the whole story from the perspective of one man in 5 bodies; his original one & 4 others that have had his 'mind' implanted into them. Each gives us a look at some fantastic powers imparted by the planet, along with some odd restrictions. There's a lot of action & adventure.
Mar 08, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
The setting in brief: A heavily conformist, fascist even, galactic government. Four prison planets from which no one can escape. Yet a threat, somehow arising from the prison planets. A single super agent's mind implanted in four bodies to discover the secrets of the prison planets.

The sf/adventure elements are strong enough, and the ending is exciting and surprising. What really takes these up a notch in my opinion are the parallel constructs. The masterminds running each planet are rebels from
Oct 16, 2012 Santova rated it really liked it
Lilith: A snake in the grass; now, I'm not an expert, but I'd hazard a guess and say most books don't ave a qualifier in the title. Then again, most books aren't as good as volume one of Jack Chalker's Four Lords of the Diamond series. The book starts us off with an alien robot of superior technology than the human race infiltrating and stealing critical information from a Confederacy military base. The Confederacy, man's interstellar government, won't stand for it, and put together a plan of ac ...more
Jeff Goodman
May 19, 2015 Jeff Goodman rated it really liked it
So, what is this thing in classic science fiction about people being naked? It's like some theme that pops up (sorry) amongst the alien landscapes and ray guns for no reason at all. Anyone who has read The Martian Chronicles knows what I mean. In Princes of Mars, Boroughs actually says something like, "...and they were all naked, because, why not?" Challenges of the Martian landscape not withstanding I guess. I don't get it.
Chalker comes up with a much more inventive excuse. It's actually centr
Jul 10, 2014 astaliegurec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack L. Chalker's 1981 novel "Lilith: A Snake in the Grass" is the first of his "Four Lords of the Diamond" books. It's a nicely written, fast-paced, easily read book but comes with only a small amount of Chalker's typical "physical transformation" motif. The only fault I have with the book is that he's got some of his technical facts wrong in the description of the planets. Specifically, for Lilith, he says it has "an axial tilt of 84 degrees -- almost a world on its side, which meant little se ...more
Mike Franklin
Jul 04, 2015 Mike Franklin rated it liked it
An enjoyable piece of ‘80s pulp science fiction. Actually I think it would be more accurately described as science fantasy, not only because most of the book takes place on a planet where technology can’t exist, but also because the science that is actually discussed is far closer to magic than science. However, so long as you don’t examine that science too closely this is an enjoyable adventure that owes much to Edgar Rice Burroughs. The story is well placed and has plenty of twists and turns, ...more
Morgan Eckstein
Jul 15, 2013 Morgan Eckstein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Lilith: A Snake in the Grass (by Jack L. Chalker) is the first book in the Four Lords of the Diamond series. The series takes place in the future where a galactic Confederation has expanded to cover a third of the galaxy. The population is breed to be legally average, and only on the expanding frontier is random genetics and culture allowed to flourish. The reason that the frontier is allowed an element of chaos is to prevent the human race from ceasing to develop its advances. Interestingly eno ...more
Aug 30, 2013 Caroline rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I heard about this series via a science fiction blog I follow and someone praised all four books highly. Because I love science fiction but also find it hard to find sci-fi titles that I actually really love and would re-read, I thought I'd give it a shot.

The best thing about this book is that it doesn't feel dated - the technology is amorphous enough and the allusions to Earth society are vague enough that there is a timeless quality to the book. It doesn't necessarily feel as if it were writte
Apr 30, 2016 Gustavo rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 24, 2015 Gwen rated it really liked it
Shelves: physically-owned
It is an intriguing, philosophical look at humanity's future and the concept of hierarchy, interwoven with a well-thought-out science fiction aspect. Instead of an action-packed tale of adventure and accomplishing Quest X, it's a story about a man who thought he knew who he was rediscovering himself in a primitive land and taking a good hard look at everything he thought he knew. It isn't without its action, but that doesn't seem to be the point. For a little while I was concerned it would turn ...more
Chris Catania
Sep 08, 2014 Chris Catania rated it really liked it
Rereading, read originally 20+ yrs ago. Excellent book. The story flows very well, well paced and is imo very original concept. It has several areas that make you think, equally important even though it is a scifi book written over 30 yrs ago it doesn't feel dated as many old scifi books do.
Samuel Lubell
Jul 06, 2011 Samuel Lubell added it
Shelves: sf
First book of the Four Lords of the Diamond. SF Paperback. 248 pages. All the books in the series start with the same premise. There’s a micro-organism that infects creatures and things in a solar system with four inhabitable planets that prevents people from leaving but gives some special powers. So naturally humans use this as a prison planet. When Earth authorities find out that the heads of the planet are making deals with aliens who may become enemies, they send an agent out to download his ...more
Wendell Saunders
The book is the first of four, written in 1981. It recieved modest aclaim in SciFi circles. Each book has the same main character, a special agent of the government. The agent never visits any of these worlds as they are infected with a virus that, once you have it, will kill you if you leave the solar system. So the agent sits on a ship outside the solar system and gets reports from 4 other agents. These are criminals whose minds have been wiped clean and a copy of the special agents mind impri ...more
Timothy Boyd
Jan 23, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it really liked it
Excellent SiFi series. Humans colonize 4 worlds around a new star and discover they can't ever leave due to microbes that can only live there that have invaded their bodies. Then the fun begins on each world the microbes alter the humans in different ways. Very recommended
Johan Duinkerken
May 17, 2015 Johan Duinkerken rated it really liked it
A bit older, but still a very nice read. I bought all 4 books in this series in one go, so time to start with the next part of this 4-book tale :-)
Jun 26, 2012 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
This book has a special place in my heart, for it is the book that started my love of reading. unlike most avid readers, I did not read for pleasure during my school years. I found this book on a table while on "fire watch" during my AIT school in the army in 1984. with nothing better to do I picked it up, and before I knew it my watch was done. that weekend I went to the post book store and bought the rest of the series, and have been an avid reader ever sense. as for the book itself, a fun and ...more
Michel Clasquin-Johnson
This review covers the series as a whole. Some of this is familiar Chalker territory - does he have to bring nudity into every book, even when the story does not require it? Only one of the four has the usual Chalker fantasy/sf mixture, handled here a little better than usual. However, the basic idea has since been done far better by Karl Schroeder in his brilliant book Ventus. One jarring note is that the opening sequences of the four books have been cut and pasted. Yes, I get it, it's the same ...more
Jim Razinha
Dec 31, 2015 Jim Razinha rated it really liked it
[Update...Dec 2015 - even though I read these just 3.5 years ago, I wanted to end the Year of Nostalgic Re-reads ... well, the calendar year - I expect more of such re-reads next year ... with Chalker. Still great. Still entertaining. Still creative. Still a favorite.]

After slogging through 18 Heinlein novels in the first four months of 2012 (I was stubborn), it was good to get back to decent science fiction. Still imaginative and entertaining after 30 years.

One of my favorite Chalker series. Wi
Nov 05, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
1983 grade B+
2009 grade A-

Series book W1
Jeannine Covan
Sep 25, 2015 Jeannine Covan rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this novel.
Ivan Stoikov - Allan Bard
It's a great sci-fy adventure story... It confirms my opinion again that fantasy and sci-fy are the most serious genres ;). Though it's about the hard life on an alien planet where nothing but the native non-living things can survive (of the non-living things I mean), it's actually a story that could be applied to any moment in human history... Great plot, amazing adventures, can't wait to find the next of the series!
Jun 09, 2008 Lori rated it did not like it
Shelves: stay-away-from
Uhg, what a waste of time. It started off with an interesting plot, but the author could have done so much more with it. Incredibly disapointing. I would have read the other three books in the series though, if the ending hadn't crushed whatever hope I had left for the series. (also the next book starts out EXACTLY the same as the first book, and I assume the rest are the same. What a waste of time.)
Scott Nash
Oct 16, 2013 Scott Nash rated it it was amazing
Read it way back as a kid, and just reread it. Fantastic book in a fantastic series. This is what sf is supposed to be: a long intellectual exploration of a situation. Thoroughly fleshed out, vividly drawn. The science (basically a natural version of nanotechnology) is a bit dated, but following its own internal rules strictly so the story holds up.
Dec 19, 2014 Deodand rated it really liked it
I liked this - it would appeal to people who enjoy Heinlein's work and other plot driven novels. The energy level of the story is inconsistent, and don't look too hard at the internal logic, but it was still fun. This was out of print and a bit hard to get so I hope I can find the next one in the series.
Daniel Swensen
Mar 27, 2012 Daniel Swensen rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Sci-fi in the planetary romance vein with a terrific concept and setting. Maybe not the most progressive tale in the world, with a "childlike" damsel constantly in need of rescue, but the ending makes it all worthwhile. Looking forward to reading the next volume.
Harry Weinhofer
Feb 27, 2013 Harry Weinhofer rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed The Four Lords of the Diamond books. I thought it was a different approach to "clone" the main character and have a book for each of the clones, each taking place on a different world with a different set of "unique" rules.
Jun 10, 2011 Scythan rated it really liked it
A very interesting book. I'm looking forward to finding and reading the rest of the series! Chalker really likes putting things that are suspiciously like magic in his books, but explains them very well.
Aaron Anderson
Favorite Chalker series. A bit flawed, like all of Chalker's stuff, but the concept behind the series is so awesome.

Another one I've reread a ton of times, but don't think most people would.
Nov 10, 2007 Dinofly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Fist book of 4. The world Chalker introduces is new, brilliant a believable. The story takes you on a journey you are biting your nails trough and holding your breath for the characters to survive.
Jul 21, 2009 Randy rated it really liked it
By the time this one came along, some of his plot devices were a littlwe shop worn. Almost every character in all his series are changed into other types of beings.
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Besides being a science fiction author, Jack Laurence Chalker was a Baltimore City Schools history teacher in Maryland for a time, a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association, and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Some of his books said that he was born in Norfolk, Virginia although he later claimed that was a mistake.

He attended all but one of the W
More about Jack L. Chalker...

Other Books in the Series

The Four Lords of the Diamond (5 books)
  • Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold (The Four Lords of the Diamond, #2)
  • Charon: A Dragon at the Gate (The Four Lords of the Diamond, #3)
  • Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail (The Four Lords of the Diamond, #4)
  • The Four Lords of the Diamond (The Four Lords of the Diamond, #1-4)

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