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Night's Master

(Tales from the Flat Earth #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,013 ratings  ·  200 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 (first published January 1st 1978)
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,013 ratings  ·  200 reviews

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Nenia Campbell
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing

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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, Tanit
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 :)
The Cat
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
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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
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
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
Karin Gastreich
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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
Dave Packard
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, sword
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
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
Violetta Vane
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender-stuff
This is one of the best fantasy books ever, and a book I've reread countless times. The amazing thing about Tanith Lee's language is how rich it is, and paradoxically, how spare. There's not a single wasted word. The sexuality in this book is groundbreaking, especially in the way it's integrated within the story and the mythos. This is a profoundly queer story in which sexuality and gender cannot be taken for granted (although gender really gets messed with more in the later Flat Earth books). I ...more
Gary Fisher

Some of these tales remind me of Navajo stories of Coyote the Trickster. However, as I recall most or all of the Coyote tales taught some sort of lesson. Except for the final story about Hate the stories in this book seem to be just capricious and mean.

Probably my least favorite Sword & Laser book so far.
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
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prior to discovering this book I'd never read anything by Tanith Lee, though I'd heard her name a number of times. When I read about her recent passing on Facebook, I decided it was time to finally see what she was all about.

There were a number of things that made me select Night's Master as my first jump into Lee's writing: the book's World Fantasy Award nomination; the length (only about 250 pages? Sign me up!); and the Goodreads description indicating the book was written in the manner of the
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
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is a delightful little fantasy novel; the first in her Tales From the Flat Earth series, though it certainly works as a stand-alone novel.

Night's Master reads very much like a collection of loosely linked Persian folk tales, all of which are linked to the often malicious (sometimes just callous) activities of the demon Azhram. There are three novellas in this novel, each divided into two parts or three chapters each. In most cases, the first chapters of each novella describe how Azhram drop
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I read this book as a teenager - my first Tanith Lee... I never looked back. I now have a shelf full of Lee.
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
mythological tale of a flat earth and Azhrarn Prince of Demons, one of the Lords of Darkness, for whom the human population are a plaything to torment
moves through several stories where innocence is perverted, greed and fear are exploited, and individuals suffer for the entertainment of the demon
these tales and the language are reminiscent of fables, but without an underlying moral for humanity

(view spoiler)
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A series of folktales chained together by overlapping events and a central figure: Azhrarn, prince of demons and the night. It requires an overarching plot in order to transition from interlinked stories to a novel; there's just enough of one, but it's backloaded and doesn't do as much with the book's themes as I'd like. Trauma is portrayed as a cycle of violence wherein victims become monsters and, therefore, perpetrators; Azhrarn's overarching story ties in to this, but fails to directly confr ...more
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The Sword and Laser: S&L Podcast - #325 - Mythology Ideology 23 122 Jun 16, 2018 03:25PM  
The Sword and Laser: NM: General discussion thread 39 182 May 30, 2018 12:08AM  
The Sword and Laser: NM: Symbology or reality? 15 128 May 29, 2018 05:05PM  
The Sword and Laser: #323 - Demon Mythology 15 120 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)
“Go nowhere on a horse that fades, for your dreams will betray you.” 21 likes
“and their days make no story for they were good and joyful and without event” 10 likes
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