Jim's Reviews > Lord of Light

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
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Dec 19, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: scifi, favorites, 1paper, 2fiction, 1ebook
Read from April 29 to May 06, 2014

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 in 7 different sections to fit in the magazine. Parts are written in different styles, too. Part 1 is Sam's present, but then he remembers back & the next 5 parts are chronological until they catch up to & make sense of part 1. On a first read, if you're even slightly lost, I'd suggest going back & rereading part one before continuing on to part 7 which continues & ends the story. Weird? Yeah, a little, but the first part is a perfect starting point in many ways & for many reasons that become clear once the story is done.

Can't find an ebook version on here & not sure where this one came from. Oh well, I've got a paperback copy here & have given away a dozen more, so I guess this bit of 'piracy' is OK. The publisher should port this to ebook format ASAP. I keep a few old favorites on my device for those times when I need to start a new book during lunch or have a particularly rough day & need a comfort read. This is definitely one. I expect I'll read it again in another handful of years, a perennial favorite.

Added 31Mar11: It's fantastic that I've read this book a dozen times or so & enjoy it just as much every time. I see I last read it 3.5 years ago. That's a short amount of time for a re-read & I wasn't bored at all.

Written 30Oct07: Typically, the whole story emerges slowly & somewhat confusingly on the first read, but we soon realize that a starship from Earth colonizes an alien planet. Fantasy meets SF as Psi powers, often enhanced by technology, allow the crew to impersonate a mutated version of the Hindu gods, lording it over the passengers. Mind-swapping & cloning allow the old crew to become almost immortal, while the passengers are fruitful & multiply, spreading across the planet & forgetting their roots & technology.

The story centers on Sam, one of the crew, retired god & hero. He doesn't like the new gods & fights heaven through fair & foul means. (view spoiler)

Zelazny's mix of science, religion, mysticism & politics is fantastic & unique, as always. His hero, Sam, is insightful, mocking & manipulating. He subtly guides people & events to his advantage, while attempting to topple the gods from their heaven.

The story isn't told in a straightforward manner (big shock) but as flashbacks for over half of it. It's almost disappointing when the story flows linearly, but the action is too intense & the politics too murky to confuse it through further time jumping.

I've read some criticisms of his take on the Eastern religions but, I don't think he made any mistakes. He wasn't trying to recreate the religions of today, but show them in a far-flung future where they were setup by a bunch power hungry people for their own base purposes. He was using them as a vehicle to make his point & felt justified changing them to fit.

I've worn out two copies of this book. It's fantastic. He's one of my favorite authors & this is possibly my favorite book.
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Quotes Jim Liked

Roger Zelazny
“The day of battle dawned pink as the fresh-bitten thigh of a maiden.”
Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light

Reading Progress

04/30/2014 marked as: currently-reading
05/06/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Werner (last edited Nov 01, 2008 04:58PM) (new)

Werner For readers who might like to sample this novel first in a short segment, there's "Death and the Executioner," (1967), one of several earlier short stories that Zelazny incorporated into the book. This one shows us some of the process by which Sam becomes the "Buddha." It's included in Gardner Dozois' excellent anthology, Modern Classics of Fantasy (St. Martin's Press, 1997; see my review).

message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim I hadn't known that. Thanks, Werner.

Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann This is a great review Jim! I have read a lot of reviews of this book and I find yours to be my favorite. You mentioned at the bottom of your review that "this is possibly my favorite book" and I might have to agree with you on that. Which is crazy because there has been some Philip K. Dick books that blew my mind and I couldn't possibly think that there is another book that could do what they did. But then I read Lord of Light :)

message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Thanks, Erich! I'd suggest Zelazny's This Immortal or The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany. These two are why this one is only 'possibly one of my favorites'. They're kind of similar - mythological SF.

Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann I actually ordered This Immortal yesterday on Amazon, right after I finished Lord of Light. Now I'll have to put The Einstein Intersection on my order list too. Thanks for the suggestions!

message 6: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Super! You won't be disappointed. Both are much shorter books, but pack even more into them, if that's possible. I've read them each a bunch (dozen?) times & get more out of them each time.

Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann I just finished This Immortal yesterday. And it's amazing! Thanks for the recommendation. :)

message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Glad you liked it. I just finished re-reading The Einstein Intersection, which like this book & This Immortal, is one of my all time favorites. They're books I get something more & different out of each time I read them.

Stephen Great review!!! I couldn't agree more.

message 10: by Simeon (new)

Simeon Thanks for the review. I haven't been able to find this series yet, but it's on my reading list.

message 11: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim A group I'm in is reading this book in April. I've been struggling with another book & needed a break, so I'm re-reading this. If I can read a book as many times as I've read this & still really enjoy it, it's a classic. Knowing the story doesn't harm the read at all. It might even enhance it since I get to concentrate more on how he wrote it.

As Werner pointed out above, "Death & the Executioner" was published as a short story. In fact, I believe the book was written in 6 or 8 sections to be serialized. That never happened, but Zelazny changed styles & tones between the sections. That makes it a very interesting read.

Jackie Jim, I've really got to get to this one soon.
Which group is reading it in April?

message 13: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Beyond Reality

Yeah, you should. I think it takes a couple of reads to really get it. There's just so much packed into it. The changing times, tones & almost poetic language need to become somewhat familiar before you can relax & just appreciate it.

message 14: by Jackie (last edited Mar 29, 2011 11:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jackie I just joined the group.
I'll be late to the Lord of Light party because I have a prior commitment in Scifi/Fantasy BC. A side read that I initiated, can't bail out. I'm sure it won't take me too long...then I can jump into LoL.

Jackie I'll be starting it tonight.

James Kinoshita A much better review that mine. I think you "got it." The subtleties of this book don't really reveal themselves from a single reading.

message 17: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim James, I'm fairly sure they're never all fully revealed, which is why I can re-read it with such pleasure. I often catch a few more things. I don't know how many times I read it before I finally got the huge pun, (view spoiler) & that was only because a friend told me about it. Sheesh!

message 18: by Laura (Kyahgirl) (new)

Laura (Kyahgirl) my brother just gave me a bunch of his sci-fi books and this was on of them...it sounds good. Nice review Jim.

message 19: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Thanks. Enjoy, Laura. It's one of my top 3 favorite books of all time.

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