Lord of Light

Roger Zelazny
Lord of Light Cover

Lord of Light


I didn't have a problem with the sequencing of the parts as I've read that some have had. I did notice that the seven parts were all of equal length, about 42 pages each. I guess this is some sort of a feng shui thing or has some mystical or numerology significance. I can't imagine that it was chance; Zelazny designed it that way.

Recognizing that there maybe considerable overlap, I am of the opinion that science fiction and fantasy should not be lumped together as one genre, but should be considered as separate genres. This novel is fantasy sheathed in a thin veneer of science fiction. It takes place on a planet other than Earth. That in itself is enough to have it placed in the science fiction category. There also are occasional vague references to machines and advanced technologies. But really, it's a work of fantasy, much closer to Tolkien than to Heinlein or Clarke.

The story is steeped Hindu mythology. Not being steeped in Hindu mythology myself, I have no idea how authentic it is. The primary premise of the story is conflict between the Hindu gods and Buddhism, with continuously shifting allegiances. There even is a Christian faction, the Lord and master of which is portrayed as inherently evil and even has dominion over an army of soulless zombies.

The style of the prose is not particularly appealing to me. It seems stilted, an affectation, as if the story is being told by a Shaolin monk from the old TV show, Kung Fu. There were occasional small breaks from this into contemporary English, I think mostly for humorous effect. There is indeed occasional subtle humor in the writing.

I recognize Zelazny's name from when I read a lot of science fiction many years ago. I can't remember having read anything by him way back then, but I feel that surely I must have. I wanted to like this novel. It is highly rated and included on quite a few must-read lists. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, either. I recently read his This Immortal. Now, having read these two, I have no particular inclination to delve into Nine Princes in Amber which is described by Wikipedia as a new wave fantasy novel. My reading tastes lie in other directions.