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Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny posted 23 March 2005 in ReviewsLord of Light by Roger Zelazny by Alric, Auditor

I’ve been trying to incorporate a few Science Fiction classics into my reading schedule. My latest read turned out to be a truly enjoyable experience… scifi classic and Hugo award winner, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.

It is difficult to read a landmark work, such as Lord of Light, for the first time and not think of the many stories and plot elements that it holds in common with books that I’ve read previously. Once one fixes in on the fact that this book came first, this book set the mold the others have followed, the reading experience becomes all the more amazing. Lord of Light was published in 1967 and won the Hugo for best SciFi novel in 1968.

    His followers called him Mahasamataman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the –ataman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not be a god.

Thus begins the tale of a man, a culture and an entire world. It is difficult to give a good description of the story without ruining some of the skill and beauty of Zelazny’s unveiling. However, there is much to tell.

The story takes place on another world far in the future. The culture/religion is Hindu in nature and takes a great deal of depth and feel from the Hindu cultures of South East Asia. This is a story of colonization, of Gods, of war and revenge. The Hindu God’s walk on this world and Sam is known as the Buddha, counter-influence to the Hindu religion. But who are they? What are they?

The time-line of Zelazny’s story movies along a bit unconventionally, and bit haphazardly, but this style allowed him to slowly unveil a greater feel and understanding for the history of the land, the people and the events being narrated. The depth and complexity of the story, the world building and the issues being portrayed are a perfect compliment to the intriguing and mysterious characters. The more we learn, the more we want to, and find we need to, know. The tone and style is at times serious, at times light, often tense and exciting.

You'll find yourself thinking about some of the characters, what you'd do if you'd be in their place. What would your aspect and your attribute be? Where would you stand on the issues? This is a story to feed the imagination.

I’ll offer only a few detractors, and those only in comparison to the real strengths of the novel. At first, the break in the initial timeline causes a good deal of confusion. It is set up, but the reality of the story shift is a bit difficult to follow. The good thing is that Zelazny continues to move his story and the readers follow along. You’ll fit the puzzle together when you need to. Secondly, and this is no fault of Zelazny’s, is that several aspects of the story are not that uncommon these days, though Lord of Light is responsible for starting some these trends and types. The ending, while completely satisfying and in keeping with the rest of the narrative, is more a leaving off than an actual ending, the reader is simply drifting out of the specifics of a story.

Read this book. If you’re looking for a classic scifi novel, this is a great one to start with. If you’re not too crazy about scifi but want to try one out, this is a perfect novel to read. While the events, action and implements of this story are science fiction, the novel reads and feels somehow equal parts fantasy. You especially want to read this novel if you’ve enjoyed Dan Simmons’ Ilium and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars. LOL combines a lot of the themes and ideas, to different extentions and developments, that both those authors and texts have explored. Lord of Light is a fascinating, exciting, quick and completely rewarding novel. Read this book.

If you’re on that proverbial desert island, you’ll want Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light as a part of your supply! view post


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