Lord of Light, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Imagine a distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers.

Here they have made the stage on which they build a subtle pattern of alliance, love, and deadly enmity.

Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world? Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam.

The gradual unfolding of the story - how the colonization of another planet became a re-enactment of Eastern mythology - is one of the great imaginative feats of modern science fiction.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9780575094215



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Now, for me, this is a hard book to rate and review. It was wonderful. Don't doubt that I thought this book was amazing. I found it difficult and confusing at the start, due to non-chronological story telling, but as it progressed and it became clear the entire s[rawling complexity of it. I love the story, I love how subtle it is. I love the way the story is never laid out for you to grasp and nothing is neat and packaged up but, instead, everything is hinted at. A book that requires you to think but isn't deliberatley misleading or confusing, things that authors do all too often when trying to not hand the plot out. I loved the world of this book, I loved the way he used language to build the world and to build the legend, it was wonderful and well worth anyone's time to read, I fully intent to recomend this to friends. But I rated it a 4.5 instead of a 5. The reason I did this was at the end of the day that scoare reflects what I felt about the book, as well as my appreciation of the book as a piece of work. I never really connected with the book, with the characters. Due to the writing style only a few are in it long enough for us to realy grasp them, and they were fine but not...I don't know. I did like how the gods were esentialy human (in all ways) and how the war between the gods played out. I just didn't feel emotionaly invested in any of them. The language distanced me in a way and while it was entirely appropriate for the story, it left me feeling removed. Also, not many female characters and when they do appear they are not favourable or well drawn out. So, a damn good book, but not something I connected with personally so while I think it's awsome it's still, for me, a 4.5

Review by

A science-fiction story which has taken on the aspect of a fantasy about the Hindu pantheon. I have wanted to read this book for ages, but somehow every time I picked it up in the book-shop I ended up putting it down again, so I was happy to get a copy via Book Crossing. It took me ages to get into it, as the first chapter or so is quite slow and heavy-going (which is probably why I had never got round to buying it). But once I was past the first chapter or so, it picked up pace and became a lot more exciting.

Review by

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 him). Perhaps this is the fate of all reformers!<br/><br/>This much is history. Roger Zelazny takes the bare bones of this story, adds the exotic ingredients of Indian myth and legend haphazardly, seasons it with the spirit of Prometheus who moved against heaven, and serves it up as a science fiction novel. For people who have not tasted exotic and spicy Indian dishes (at least not regularly), this is extraordinary fare indeed: alas, for my jaded palate, this is quite ordinary.<br/><br/>Zelazny writes superbly. The novel is structured imaginatively-as Adam Roberts says in the introduction, the author deliberately wrong foots us with the flashback. The language is rich and lush and a bit cloying, like India at its exotic best (or worst), seen from an “Orientalist” perspective. In an age when characterization was almost nonexistent in SF, Zelazny gives us rounded characters who behave consistently. The SF elements are also well developed and consistent with a technology so far advanced that it is “indistinguishable from magic” (to borrow from Arthur C. Clarke).<br/><br/>That the author is well acquainted with India is obvious. He knows the names of a lot of Indian gods (not only the Vedic pantheon – Murugan is a Tamil god). From the way the Kathakali performance is described in detail, I am almost sure that Zelazny has travelled in Kerala (my native place). The way each god’s “Attribute” defines him or her is more or less consistent with Hindu mythology – and it has been translated into scientific terms quite convincingly. And the way the “Rakasha” (the <i>Rakshasa</i> s and <i>Asura</i>s of Indian myth) have been described as elemental spirits of the planet, subdued and imprisoned by the human colonisers, closely parallels the real origin of these demons in folklore.<br/><br/>But once all the bells and whistles were removed, I found the story of a renegade god moving against the celestial dictators quite ordinary. If the whole Indian pantheon were not in the story, if it was just the tale of a plain “Sam”‘s rebellion, I do not think this book would have merited a second glance at the awards. It was sold under the label of exotic India, like many other orientalist offerings. One might argue that this was Zeazny’s intention, and that there is nothing wrong in it: I would tend to agree. His vision of using Indian myth to flavor a science fiction novel was (at the time of its publication) a bold, path-breaking move. Only thing is, I am not one of the intended audience!<br/><br/>I have one more caveat: Zelazny mixes and matches the gods and their attributes with a free hand (especially towards the end). Since these are not true gods but human beings who have taken on these attributes, this is technically OK, but it soon becomes a pot-pourri very difficult to follow. Also, in the process, he saw many of the gods only single dimensionally (this is most notable in the case of Krishna, who is seen only as a lecher).<br/><br/>I would recommend this book for people unfamiliar with Indian mythology. I am afraid those who are well-read in the same may feel disappointed.<br/>

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