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Night's Master

(Tales from the Flat Earth #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,494 ratings  ·  278 reviews
NIGHT'S MASTER is the first book of the stunning arabesque high fantasy series Tales from the Flat Earth, which, in the manner of The One Thousand and One Nights, portrays an ancient world in mythic grandeur via connected tales.

Long time ago when the Earth was Flat, beautiful indifferent Gods lived in the airy Upperearth realm above, curious passionate demons lived in the
Mass Market Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1978 by DAW
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Johnathon Wright Many Tanith Lee books can be found at ThriftBooks, an on line store that sells used and new books. I believe ABE books may have a few, as well. I just…moreMany Tanith Lee books can be found at ThriftBooks, an on line store that sells used and new books. I believe ABE books may have a few, as well. I just purchased four of her books, used, at ThriftBooks. I have no kind of association with either of these stores except as a customer.

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Most of the highly anticipated YA fantasy novels coming out this year have been a bust for me, and I keep getting the occasional rude comment that says something like, "You're too picky/mean/etc." Well, to that, I say, "Maybe I actually know what good fantasy novels look like because I've actually read some marvels with achingly good prose that has so much pathos it just about makes you cry?" Because if that's what you're looking for, Ta
Jun 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
What in the actual fuck did I just read?

Queer characters who are grooming pedophiles, women who get raped and become villains themselves only to be further punished by the narrative. I just... what
L.S. Popovich
I apologize to anyone who might actually read my reviews. A dawning fascination with Tanith Lee's writing will soon overtake the pile of in-progress books on my shelves. I don't know how many volumes of her work it will take before I can tear myself away and finish the overdue library stack or the slough of my over-encumbered nightstand.

This novel opens with a demon's-eye view of a flat earth. Read the first page and I believe you will not be able to stop reading. That's how it was with me. The
Kat  Hooper
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
4.5 stars
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Long ago, the earth was flat. Humans lived on its surface while the benevolent gods who created them lived in the heavens. Regretting that they had made man, the gods ignored their creation and held themselves aloof while the sorcerous demons that lived in the glowing gem-encrusted city under the earth were permitted to use humans as they wished. Being at the whim of cruel and impulsive demons made these times terrifying for humans. Eventually hat
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One night, Azhrarn Prince of Demons, one of the Lords of Darkness, took on him, for amusement, the shape of a great black eagle. East and west he flew, beating with his vast wings, north and south, to the four edges of the world, for in those days the earth was flat and floated on the ocean of chaos.

Another one of those I'm not even going to pretend to be objective about. This has been one of my favorite books (and favorite series) ever since I first read them in the distant days of 1990 (when
4.0 stars. A beautifully written, original fantasy story that reads like mythology. The main character, Azhrarn, is the Prince of Demons. Azhrarn is extremely powerful and spends his time amusing himself, mostly by tormenting humans and creating mischief. As the story progresses through a series of interlinked tales, we see Azhrarn transform from malevolent trickster to Christ-like savior and then back again. A very good book and certainly an excellent choice if you are looking for sonething a l ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maybe closer to 3.5 stars, but what the heck.

Did you ever read Vance's Dying Earth stories and think "you know what this needs? More penetration!"

Seriously, though, this book was kind of hard for me to rate. First of all, it is basically a bunch of short stories, and I am rarely impressed with short story collections. To each his own and all, but I am more of a novel kind of guy. I will say, however, that if you like fairy tales (especially darker ones) then you will probably find yourself righ
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Fantasy author Tanith Lee takes inspiration from The Arabian Nights and Tales of the Dying Earth to tell a series of interconnected tales of the demon Azhrarn and the mortals with whose lives he meddles. Lee uses a similar storytelling style to that of Ursula K. Le Guin in A Wizard of Earthsea to give the narrative a mythical flavor. Unfortunately none of the story content is more than mildly interesting and much of it, including some truly bizarre sexual content, may be revolting to modern read ...more
Allison Hurd
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tanith Lee is a veritable master of the macabre. Her stories are stunningly lush, fever dreams of someone who loves the dark, but remembers that maybe others will not. This is a book of mythology whose focus is not that of the gods or mortal heroes, but of demons. Finally, when the protagonists do the terrible things our gods so often are said to have done, you understand why.

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)

Things to
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mimi by: Sword and Laser pick for May 2018
4.5 star

Magnificently strange and otherworldly. Feels like a weird dream from which I don't want to wake.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
"What demons love they slay in the end, and the gifts of demons are snares."

This collection of connected fable like tales all involve, to a greater or lesser extent, Azhrarn, Prince of Demons, and his trifling with, troublemaking for, and general bedeviling of humanity. Themes of love, revenge, vanity and greed run through the stories, generally reinforcing the message that Demons can't be trusted, no matter how beautiful they may make themselves appear. Also, crossing a demon generally does not
Pam Baddeley
This is the first in a series and having struggled through this one I'm not sure I want to continue although I have the others.

The book is not really a novel but more a series of interconnected short stories with the same setting: Flat Earth at a time when the gods exist but are remote self obsessed beings with no interest in humanity or the Earth, and demons also exist, who live in the Underearth and take an all too unpleasant interest. The chief "character", if you can call him such, is Azharn
Luna. ✨
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-books
At first this book seemed very strange to me. At the end I was hooked ! What a great book, the author has a beautiful imagination and is great at telling stories, this isn't a lengthy very descriptive novel but it is fantastic the way the author writes is like a poem. Loved it will keep reading these strange books and will be reading the authors other works :) ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I've re-read this book several times and I feel so few people know about it - so why not recommend it. Warning: this will be a very subjective review, because it's one of my favorite books - if not THE favorite book.
I happened to come across it only a year or two ago, as I heard of Tanith Lee and wanted to try her writing. I was not disappointed.
The book is made of stories, which are interconnected. The prose is the first thing you will fall in love with - it's rich, fluent, so very vibrant that
Jason Koivu
Apr 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Gorgeous stuff! These wonderful tales read like a rich tapestry. The language is exquisite. Others have likened Lee's Flat Earth stories to the Arabian Nights tales and I can't disagree. Definitely moving on to the next volume in the series! ...more
1-Click Addict Support Group
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have always been a huge fan of fantasy, and this author has been on my to-be-read list for ages. I've seen her name enough to realize her books should be a staple for fantasy lovers, and now I understand why. I was swept away while reading, into a land of mythical proportions. Each tale is its own separate entity, but they are woven together with fine threads interconnecting them in slight but important ways.

The language used was masterful, descriptions written in almost over-the-top, fancifu
I really didn't like this much (1.5 stars rounded down), so I'm going to forgo my usual format and just say give a few sentences so I can move on.

In general I don't much care for short stories, and this book is essentially a collection of loosely related short stories. That might have been OK, but there is a lot of awful (or sometimes just weird) sex stuff.

I don't have a problem with sex in books, but it's not something I actively seek out either. Nothing in this book is very graphically depict
Sep 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was the first Tanith Lee I ever read. I used to have the SFBC omnibus editions (which I got by accident--forgot to send the reply card back in time--and decided to keep) and read the first three books of the set. I liked them a bit, but had a hard time getting into the mythical style of narration. The Flat Earth books are collections of interconnected myths, legends, or fairy tales if you will, where magic is wondrous and not subject to laws, even fantastical ones. If a demon wants to grow ...more
Night's Master's story is told in the form of three sets of interleaved short stories, each of those three mostly unconnected with each other aside from the setting and the titular character, Azhrarn. The writing style is dreamlike, and the stories read like fairy tales.

But don't expect virginal heroines marrying their heroes after defeating the wicked queen, a la Disney. The fairy tales called back to are more like the old oral stories or our own urban legends, full of sex (often coercive or n
Raymond St.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating book; but annoying. I admire the challenge Lee takes on: creating a main character who is the personification of evil; and then persuading the reader to emphasize with him.
Sure, it is no trick to make a cool and roguish villain. We all know how easily the bad boys steal scenes. They always get the sunglasses, the spot-light and the best lines. But how many writers since Milton have made a sympathetic Satan?

Lee succeeds; but at the cost that I resent my own sympathy. I'd still like
Dave Packard
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sword, audible
Pretty disappointed in this one. Very depressing short stories all set in the same universe, basically a mythology without a purpose is how it appeared to me. Not going to continue the series, and I probably won’t pick up another Tanith Lee book.
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sf
I loved it. A beautiful narrative.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readers insisting upon a strong central plot and defined set of characters will find little to enjoy here. Lee draws from fairy tale and mythology for a drifting, dreamlike experience where each "book" (Light Underground, Tricksters, and The World's Lure) is independent aside from theme, and each of which is subdivided further, into "parts" and chapters. The time table is that of demons, especially the demon lord Azhrarn, and an ephemeral mortal existence can easily fit into a single chapter. So ...more
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
First in the Tales of the Flat Earth series, this book is often compared to the 1001 Arabian Nights. While a collection of exotic stories, each linked to its predecessor, the stories are not nested and don't have a particularly Arabian flavor. I was reminded more of classical mythology and Grimm's fairy tales than the Middle East. This is a minor quibble, however, as the stories are enchanting and lush.

"Lush" has always been the best word to describe Tanith Lee's melancholic and erotically-tinge
Karin Gastreich
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Once in a very great while, we encounter a perfect book. Tanith Lee's NIGHT'S MASTER is just such a work. I won't say "I wish I could give it ten stars" because in truth, Lee's collection of interwoven short stories rises well above the conventional star system. Flat Earth is a place where imagination is completely set free. Engaging, passionate, sensual, and cruel; with surprising and fulfilling moments of true heroism. Told with prose that reads like poetry. I could keep raving about it, but r ...more
A book club read of something I read 20+ years ago. I don't often do re-reads but as this one was very short at less than 250 pages I thought I would check it out with adult eyes.

The structure of this book, and the sequels, is just a series of short stories all set in the same world with constant gods and themes. For that reason it reads a lot like The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights, Volume 1. Central to all the stories in this volume is Azhrarn, Lord of the Demons and the Darkness and the
Oleksandr Zholud
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good book but is it unusual fantasy, not for everyone’s liking. It is very poetic and is more like fairy tales in style than modern novel. The book is very reminiscent of The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, uncensored version or the original tales gathered by anthropologists and not cleared up for kids: this means there are allusions about sex, there is a homosexual experience and a rape. While these parts together are not more than 1% of the book’s length, they grossed out ...more
I am not familiar with the 1001 Nights which this is often compared to; however, I am familiar with other mythos and I was very reminded of them. First, Ovid's Metamorphoses: the way the stories folded together with very little in common until they did have a lot in common. Lots of rapes. Lots of sex with animals. Then, Voluspa, moving from the beginning of time to the end of time and back again. There was even a game of checkers in there! It felt like remembering a world rather than being intro ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and terrible. Those are the first words that come to my mind after closing Night’s Master, the 1978 fantasy classic from Tanith Lee. Structured as a series of short story cycles sharing a common universe (the Flat Earth), and a central character (Azhrarn, a sort of equivalent of the Lucifer from our culture), this book is a mastercraft example of fantasy told in the language of myth. It reminds us how human lives are drawn to tragedy, no matter how fleeting moments can create the illus ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fantasy
4.5 stars maybe?
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The Sword and Laser: S&L Podcast - #325 - Mythology Ideology 23 123 Jun 16, 2018 03:25PM  
The Sword and Laser: NM: General discussion thread 39 186 May 30, 2018 12:08AM  
The Sword and Laser: NM: Symbology or reality? 15 132 May 29, 2018 05:05PM  
The Sword and Laser: #323 - Demon Mythology 15 121 May 13, 2018 01:11PM  

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Tanith Lee was a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She was the author of 77 novels, 14 collections, and almost 300 short stories. She also wrote four radio plays broadcast by the BBC and two scripts for the UK, science fiction, cult television series "Blake's 7."
Before becoming a full time writer, Lee worked as a file clerk, an assistant librarian, a shop assistant, and a wai

Other books in the series

Tales from the Flat Earth (5 books)
  • Death's Master (Flat Earth, #2)
  • Delusion's Master (Flat Earth, #3)
  • Delirium's Mistress (Flat Earth, #4)
  • Night's Sorceries (Flat Earth, #5)

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