Other Sellers on Amazon
Lord of Light Paperback – March 30, 2010
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
From the Back Cover
Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rules 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.
About the Author
Roger Zelazny burst onto the SF scene in the early 1960s with a series of dazzling and groundbreaking short stories. He won his first of six Hugo Awards for Lord of Light, and soon after produced the first book of his enormously popular Amber series, Nine Princes in Amber. In addition to his Hugos, he went on to win three Nebula Awards over the course of a long and distinguished career. He died on June 14, 1995.
- Publisher : Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (March 30, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0060567236
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060567231
- Item Weight : 9.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.68 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #119,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
First, let me give a brief summary of the story. Feel free, however, to skip down to the part labeled "MY REVIEW".
In our far future, but in the distant past of the book, a spaceship travels from Earth to a distant planet. They have incredibly advanced technology, and the crew members also have mutant mental abilities that are almost like magic. It's unclear to me how they obtained these abilities, but they are important. The crew also has the technology to transfer consciousness from one body to another, so everyone is effectively immortal provided they don't die unexpectedly (like the elves in LotR).
The crew tames the planet and defeats existing life forms that are problematic. A human civilization arises. For some reason, however, this civilization is fairly primitive and doesn't have access to the crew's advanced technology. This goes on for hundreds or thousands of years.
Sometime prior to the events in the book, the crew decides to set themselves up as gods named after the Hindu pantheon. Their technology and mutant powers allow them to essentially *be* gods, and they take to their roles so well that they often believe it themselves. But they have the ability to raise the primitive humans to their level. A disagreement breaks out among them as to whether or not this should be done, with "accelerationists" being the ones in favor of it.
The opposition finds a simple way to completely eliminate the accelerationists. The opposition controls the body transfer facilities. Prior to being transferred, everyone is put through a sophisticated mind scan that detects any sympathy for accelerationism. If it exists, that person is not resurrected. Thus all of the accelerationists die off within a generation.
The gods institute a Hinduism-based worship system among the primitives that includes karma. You have good karma if you believe the religion, think like the gods, and agree with their policies. At the age of 60, everyone goes to the temple and is mind-scanned to check their karma. If they pass and if they have a good record of donating, they are transferred into an upgraded body. If this continues over multiple lifetimes, they will eventually be raised to godhood as a demigod with the possibility of one day becoming a full-fledged god. As part the elevation, they receive a mutant ability (called an aspect). People with bad karma, however, are either transferred to a lesser body (possibly an animal) or not transferred at all. Thus the system perpetuates itself by only promoting people with the same mindset and removing people who are problematic.
In an effort to enforce and maintain this system, the gods actively suppress any technological advances made by the primitives. For instance, if a printing press or telescope is invented, the gods punish that city and destroy it with their divine wrath.
Into all this comes Sam, one of the original crew who's been keeping a low profile and isn't a god. By chance, he'd missed most of the purge, and at this point he doesn't appear to have strong opinions either way on accelerationism. But he's getting old and travels to a city for a body transfer. Here he learns about the pantheon, accelerationism, and the purge. As one of the First, he's offered the chance to immediately ascend to godhood, which he accepts (anything else would have been suicidal). But he's suspicious and substitutes someone else for his transfer. They give that person an epileptic body, confirming his suspicions. He had arrived in the city with a small army as an escort, and he uses it to take over the body transfer facility. He transfers himself and a few select people, steals the equipment, leaves the city, and goes into hiding.
The gods are tyrannical, full of themselves, arrogant, and uncaring. Sam was not necessarily an accelerationist at the beginning of all this, but he is now. Actually, that's not quite correct. He's opposed to the gods and their tyranny, and since anti-accelerationism is a big part of that system he must necessarily become an accelerationist in order to oppose it. He's alone in this effort, however, so he adopts a subtle approach. His first tactic is to introduce Buddhism to the world. He becomes Buddha and preaches the religion which he remembers from Earth. By creating a second religion, especially a pacifistic one like Buddhism, he undermines the authority of gods in small ways.
Then he attempts a direct attack using some of the original inhabitants of the planet that he'd helped subdue and imprison in the days after their arrival from Earth. Unfortunately they don't cooperate and sabotage his plan. He's captured by the gods and executed. He manages to survive, obtain a body, and masquerade himself as one of the other gods. He then allies with some gods who have become sympathetic to his cause, and they fight a final battle. They fail, and he is captured again. This time, rather than kill him, they transfer his consciousness into Nirvana (actually the magnetic field surrounding the planet) where he lives an incorporeal existence in paradise. He lost, but the gods are weakened by his efforts.
After a number of years (50 or so), a group of disgraced gods retrieve him from his existence in orbit. By this time the gods have lost more of their power and authority due to Sam's efforts decades ago. One of the original crew who had left the pantheon in disgust has decided to wage war on the gods so he can spread his Christian beliefs without divine retribution. This leads to the "actual" final confrontation, where everything is resolved.
That's a pretty good plot. What I don't like is how it was written.
When I was younger I tried to read this book (I mean, it's by Zelazny so it's got to be good). I eventually gave up and did not finish the story. More recently I heard that George R.R. Martin considers this to be one of the top five books ever written. And many people think this is Zelazny's best work. And it won the Hugo award. So I decided to give it another try.
My primary complaint is that the pace is slow and I got bored. The only reason I finished is that I'd committed to reading the whole thing.
To complicate things, you have to look between the lines to understand much of what's going on, because so much of it is religious/philosophical at face value. The truth is there, but sometimes you have to sift through stuff to find it. Zelazny seems to revel in this dualism: the face-value Buddhism and Hinduism vs. the technological science fiction. But I found it distracting. I didn't like having to work so hard for my information.
There's a lot of subtlety in this book. And some original philosophy. And puzzle-solving. If you like those types of things, you'll most likely enjoy this book. But it's not for me.
I don't recommend "Lord of Light", but you should probably read it anyway, because it's a classic in the science fiction genre.
The underlying conflict is simple, but the attitude that the essentially immortal characters bring to it is, while very different, still essentially human. Man's inhumanity to ... well ... everybody and everything is very much on display here. The book highlights small, all too human and overwhelmed, minds, and large, all too human, egos, in a game of celestial thrones.
And, underlying it all is a believability of action and response. The situation is utterly alien, but we know people who react the way these people do. We're afraid that we too would react as badly in the same situations, or maybe we hope we would do as well. It's all a matter of perspective.
Top reviews from other countries
Amber did it in a very colloquial American style over several volumes; here, he does it in more formal style, in prose as lush as the world he describes. An unnamed world was long ago colonised from old Urath i.e. Earth. The native inhabitants have either been destroyed or imprisoned & are regarded as demons. Mutations, either natural or induced & enhanced, have led many of the First colonists & their descendants to take on Aspects and Attributes, to have become demi-gods & gods. Reincarnation is a reality, along with a psyche probe that will ensure you receive your karmic due, and the First are always first in line for a new body, ensuring their effective immortality (barring accident or violence).
The problem is that the psych-probe also effectively allows the gods to stifle any sort of dissent, and the dominant Deicrat party, who don't (and seemingly never will) feel that the colonists are ready for technological advancement, under the guise of imitating the Hindu pantheon, are keeping the world in medieval subjection. The gods help you if you disagree. Except that they won't, quite the opposite. Great Souled Sam, he who never claimed, one of the First, is dead against all this & thus we have a story...
There are lots of things I could say about the quality of the writing, but I'll confine myself to two. The cover quote on this edition (George Martin again) has it that this is one of the 5 best SF books of all time. He's probably right. The second is that I was astonished to find that, despite the number of awards his work won, Zelazny was never made a Grand Master of SF. An astonishing oversight, especially considering some of those who have received it.
Buy this - you won't regret it.
It is an example of how sci fi can produce literary masterpieces equal to classic or mainstream fiction. This story will even appeal to readers outside of sci fi/fantasy fans, especially anyone interested in Hinduism, Buddhism or eastern mythology, or indeed history and socialism. It is allegorical, ironic, humorous and sublimely philosophical.
It is difficult to grasp at first, which is part of its reward. During the first two chapters I worried this book would be a flop for me, I wasn't loving it. But then things clicked into place, and the poetry of the prose, the philosophy of the characters took over. Then suddenly my confusion became excitement as plot puzzles of earlier chapters resolved.
The action sequences are thrilling, better than Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber. The book has a truly epic feel, essentially a series of myths about Sam and how he became Lord of Light, and his revolution. Yet all this fits into just 284 pages.
For that reason, I found myself re-reading chapters again, as layers revealed later in the book put a new nuance on earlier events and conversations.
Indeed, this is one of those rare books that get better each time you read it, even though you know the plot. Like all great myths, the story and characters are so fascinating that knowing the plot can't detract from the enjoyment.
There is something for everyone here, wrapped in an utterly unique New Wave sci-fi experience.
I simply can't fathom the hugely positive reviews. Guess it must be me ........