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Lord of Light

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  29,073 ratings  ·  1,579 reviews
Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman. Binder of Demons, Lord of Light.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Harper Voyager (first published 1967)
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Joshua D Nope. Not any more than you'd need to be familiar with Norse mythology enjoy Thor comics. At most, someone familiar with the myths might get a kick ou…moreNope. Not any more than you'd need to be familiar with Norse mythology enjoy Thor comics. At most, someone familiar with the myths might get a kick out of seeing familiar names and concepts, but that's about it. I disagree with the other commentators that knowing much about the subject will harm the book. The book isn't meant to be a retelling of the myths.(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, doe…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)

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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
Kevin Kuhn
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
“Lord of Light” was published in 1967, won the Hugo in 1968, and is often considered a science fiction masterwork. More than once, I have seen it referred to as a top ten all time science fiction novel and many people consider it their favorite science fiction book. I believe it to be important, influencing writers such as George R. R. Martin and John C. Wright. I did not enjoy the book, finding it difficult to follow and the story failed to ever come alive in my head. There is much to appreciat ...more
Lois Bujold
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
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
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 differe
Dan Schwent
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zelazny
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
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
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2021
I am definitely going to keep this one handy for a reread. I think it is one which will benefit from knowing more at the start, because I certainly floundered around for several chapters trying to sort out the back story.

Despite that I immediately fell for the main character, the man of many names but let's call him Sam. He was the typical lovable rogue with some amazing powers. I enjoyed many of the other characters too, especially Tak, who was living out a reincarnation as an ape.

This is a sho
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
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
Manuel Antão
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The Special Art of SF: “Lord of Light” by Roger Zelazny

“Lord of Light” takes place maybe 100 or 200 years after the landing of humans on the planet where it takes place. A bottle of wine brought from Earth is still drinkable (though to be sure a precious relic); there is one survivor-in-the-flesh of the native entities who resisted human incursion. Also, the godhood of the "crew" arose informally - the "passengers" saw them wielding su
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This DNF is from way back in the day when I was in high school or college (you know, when dinosaurs stalked the earth). I tried to read my dad's paperback copy of this book and crashed and burned. It was complicated and wordy and I just couldn't engage with it ... so it bored me. I need to give it another shot sometime now that I'm older and smarter, or at least more well-read. :) ...more
In my opinion, Lord of Light (LOL) called as science fiction because the author set the setting as far future, and using technology as the magic system. But the story itself mainly influenced by Indian mythology. But it was not a retelling of Indian myths. The author had done the researched well, based on my very-limited knowledge of Indian myth. The author mixed the myths with his own story. OK, in much harsher words: the author was using Indian mythology for the story. So please don't use LOL ...more
SF Masterworks #7 - such a highly rated and liked book... but this was pure mumbo jumbo for me. A far far future where the Eastern gods reign over their worshippers whilst forever going through their own power struggles. Maybe if I knew something about Eastern / Indian religions I would have enjoyed this more? I really struggled to read this, which I did because I refuse to DNF an SF Masterworks, but, on the flip side force reading probably lead me to having a very negative experience with this ...more
An alien world colonized by humans. The leaders used technology so advanced that they appeared as Hindu gods while their alien enemies became as demons.
One man wishes to give technology to all the common people who worship him as the Buddha.
Not fantasy but hard Science Fiction.

Siddhartha - Binder of the Demons,
Fire elementals,
The Lords of Karma,
Lord Yama - Deathgod,
Tak of the Bright Spear,
Mara - Lord of Illusion,
Mount of Vishnu -the Garuda Bird,
The thunder chariot of Lord Shiva,
Taraka of
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
[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
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
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

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
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
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
Gretchen Rubin
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of science fiction/fantasy, so I'd heard about this book over the years -- and finally picked it up. It's a very unusual, compelling story. Be warned, it takes a few chapters to get situated into the universe, to understand what's going on, so give yourself some time to concentrate and read without interruption. Once the world and the conflict is established, it's FASCINATING. I will definitely re-read it, because it's the kind of book that I find more enjoyable the second time, be ...more
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Felicity by: rockstar
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. ...more
John Wiswell
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Ivana Books Are Magic
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From what I read about Roger Zelazny, he liked his mythology. From what I read from Roger Zelazny, he had not only an excellent understanding of mythology but an almost magical power to effortlessly weave it into a story. This was reflected in almost all of his writing, where Zelazny not only tapped into various mythologies, but breathed immense life and force into them. Zelazny created wonderful mythological worlds of his own fulled by the brilliant of his imagination.

Lord of Light, a novel he
(Original review date: 17 March 2009)

On page one of Lord of Light, Zelazny drops the reader smack into the middle of an epic and eternal struggle, taking place on a distant planet in the distant future. It's an incredibly disorienting way to enter a story, especially one as bizarre and complicated as this one is. The structure of the novel is no help, either - it's divided into seven long and loosely-connected chapters, presented out of chronological order with no way for the reader to know, at
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2020
As long as you accept you probably won't have any idea what's going on for the first 100 pages, it's rather impressive. For me, more cerebral fun than emotional one, though. ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oleksandr Zholud
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a masterpiece. A definite reading choice for SF (and maybe fantasy) fans. However, it asks for a mature reader. Not in terms of sex and gore (there is not much of either compared to many current novels) but in terms of person development. At least in my case. I’ve read a Russian translation some 20 years ago and it left me cold: some strange mix of Hinduism and Buddhism, no plain answers about what’s happening and almost no blaster-shooting adventure, meh… now I see how wrong I was. ...more
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story of one man's fight against the oppression of and entire planet by a small group of people who have set themselves up as gods. Based on the Hindu patheon, the story focuses on Sam, one of the original settlers of the planet, who has lived for centuries through advanced technology, skill and cunning. ...more
Allison Hurd
Not at all what I expected! I think I sort of expected a "Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" clone but espousing Hinduism instead of Rational Anarchy. While I probably would have liked that also, this was really a very inventive myth retelling and I loved it for that.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The myth. Holy wow! I read a lot of myths and I adore them
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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 dea ...more

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