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Lord of Light

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Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule 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.

296 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1967

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About the author

Roger Zelazny

690 books3,455 followers
Roger Zelazny made his name with a group of novellas which demonstrated just how intense an emotional charge could be generated by the stock imagery of sf; the most famous of these is A Rose for Ecclesiastes in which a poet struggles to convince dying and sterile Martians that life is worth continuing. Zelazny continued to write excellent short stories throughout his career. Most of his novels deal, one way or another, with tricksters and mythology, often with rogues who become gods, like Sam in Lord of Light, who reinvents Buddhism as a vehicle for political subversion on a colony planet.

The fantasy sequence The Amber Chronicles, which started with Nine Princes in Amber, deals with the ruling family of a Platonic realm at the metaphysical heart of things, who can slide, trickster-like through realities, and their wars with each other and the related ruling house of Chaos. Zelazny never entirely fulfilled his early promise—who could?—but he and his work were much loved, and a potent influence on such younger writers as George R. R. Martin and Neil Gaiman.

He won the Nebula award three times (out of 14 nominations) and the Hugo award six times (out of 14 nominations). His papers are housed at the Albin O. Khun Library of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,825 reviews
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,239 reviews2,229 followers
May 3, 2015
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!

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.

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).

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 Rakshasa s and Asuras 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.

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!

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).

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.
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books558 followers
November 29, 2021
“Lord of Light” was published in 1967, won the Hugo in 1968, and is often considered a science fiction masterwork. More than once, I have seen it referred to as a top ten all time science fiction novel and many people consider it their favorite science fiction book. I believe it to be important, influencing writers such as George R. R. Martin and John C. Wright. I did not enjoy the book, finding it difficult to follow and the story failed to ever come alive in my head. There is much to appreciate, and maybe a second read would be more fruitful, but I never cared about the characters and honestly had to force myself to complete it.

Let’s start with the positive. The book has an excellent premise. Humans have migrated to another world and many of the original crew (call them Firsts), have not only discovered a technology that allows them to be immortal through reincarnation, but also have materially become gods. They developed near magical abilities in order to fight off and eventually imprison the original inhabitants (beings of pure energy). Their descendants now live in a near medieval society worshiping the Firsts in the form of Hindu gods. The gods ultimately control the process of reincarnation and force the population into a mind scan at the age of 60 to determine their reincarnation result. People that are found unworthy (largely in serving the gods) may return in diseased bodies or even as animals such as primates or dogs. The plot follows the main character, named Sam, who embraces Buddhism over Hinduism, and looks to give the population the same technology the gods enjoy. The story is complex and nuanced. Fight scenes are very well written.

So, what did I dislike? To begin there is a massive amount of exposition and info dumps. I guess these are somewhat necessary due to the scale of the story, both in term of time, as well as world building. But still, I couldn’t go a chapter without feeling like I was constantly being reminded that this was a story, I almost never lost myself in the characters and the tale. The prose often seems intentionally obscure. Characters have many names and it’s likely that many subtle references around Hindu and Buddhism were lost on me. We begin with a flashback, that’s very thinly introduced. The story meanders and for me, fails to find any strong buildup of tension or climax.

I must document that I read this during the beginning of the Covid 19 Global Pandemic. It’s a time where I’m highly distracted and struggling to stay positive, which likely influences my impressions of this work. As I said, a reread in the future may change my viewpoint, however, at this point in time, I’m giving it 3.5 stars round up to 4 for the strong premise and cultural influences it created. Imaginative and epic in scope, but also murky, and too unfocused for my tastes.
Profile Image for Lois Bujold.
Author 161 books37.6k followers
April 24, 2014

I first read this book back in the late 60s, when it was brand new and nothing like it had appeared in SF before. I found it brilliant and mysterious, the latter in part because back in my teens I knew so little about the Hindu and Buddhist religions and myths Zelazny was spinning off. I am at least somewhat less ignorant nowadays, if not hugely so.

I still think the book is brilliant, but not nearly so mysterious. It's a bit like looking at faded pictures of your parents, and realizing you are now older than they were then.

One of the intellectual pleasures of this book for the reader is the putting-together of the world-building set-up, its mysteries gradually revealed, so any thumbnail sketch of same acts as a pretty big spoiler. But I want to make some comments below that depend on them, so I will do the synopsis at the end, and anyone spoiler-sensitive to a half-century-old book can stop reading in time.

I was immediately, upon this reread – the first in decades, and I think the first since I started my own writing career – conscious of the voice, which is omniscient, with its fascinating strengths and interesting abilities to hide weaknesses. Omniscient tends to be emotionally distancing, but has the advantage of being able to pack huge amounts of information into little page-time, allowing for a lot of rich and – relatively, because this is Zelazny, who prudently explains as little as possible – detailed world-building.

The episodic structure, starting the story near its end and proceeding through assorted novella-length flashbacks, stems from its being something of a fix-up, incorporating stories that were originally sold separately to various magazines, I believe. It all pulled together beautifully, however, managing to be more than the sum of its parts.

The narrator's style might be described as "high-falutin' smart ass", I suppose, florid and often beautiful language undercut by jokes and running jokes, allowing the writer to be poetic without damaging his guy street-cred.

The sexism fairy has struck this book pretty hard in the intervening decades since my last read, I'm afraid. I have a high tolerance for this because I remember the original social context, and Lord of Light was hugely better than some other books of the time. But the core emotional story is undoubtedly a bromance, where the two generationally-dissassociated not-quite-rivals for a woman's love, Sam and Yama, actually end up with their most important relationship being with each other. After the climax they end up off having new adventures free of any taint of domesticity, leaving the female leg of the putative love triangle entirely disempowered and put in her place. Grant you, Candi-Kali is a well-observed example of what I have dubbed the Borderline-Personality Girlfriend, which does add complexity. Sam is I think correct in his evaluation that any attempt at a long-term relationship with her cannot end well, and he speaks from experience. But it is very convenient for the narrative that this frees our main guy-pair from any on-going duties in the matter.

It's a very blokey book. Most of the chapter climaxes are epic battles, big fights to establish male-male bio-social dominance, aka politics. For a narrative inspired by some of the ur-sources of Indo-European patriarchal tradition, this is actually spot-on. Only the few female figures who fight guy-style get to share center stage for long, or else are support staff. Well, it's a war story; this is sort of fair.

World-building spoilers now. The background is: this alien and eerie planet was settled many generations earlier by a shipload of mainly South Asian colonists. At the same time, technology was developed for electronically/magically uploading personalities into new, fresh bodies, conveniently grown to adult size in vats. As time went on, mutant superpowers arose among some of the colonists/crew, and a cadre of same set themselves up as the Hindu pantheon, controlling reincarnation and keeping all the high tech to and for themselves. Sam, our hero -- and formerly apparently the colony ship's engineer, given his powers over electrical phenomena -- is increasingly offended by this, and sets himself up as a one-man (but several-generations-long) revolution against heaven, using Buddhism as his template for resistance. His banner is material progress, denied by the gods who go around suppressing any tech that is discovered or rediscovered by the peons. So far so good; I, personally, am heavily in favor of education, flush toilets, and electricity for all.

But to anyone with some biology background, the existence and maintenance of the wide-spread reincarnation technology is wildly contradictory to the posited keep-the-masses ignorant trope. I really don't see how this society, were it anything like economically realistic, could have it both ways, except by authorial fiat. So the world-building falls down at its central conceit.

Some of the underlying SF tropes, fun as they are in context, also get the hairy eyeball from me these days. The big one, of course, is the denial of biology, reproduction, and death as the substrate of human existence. Death is dodged by the reincarnation tech. Family (and women) become unimportant as one buys one's new, unrelated body from a vat, without anyone visible having to do any scut work to make it possible. This embodies what seems to me a (largely) young male SF ideal that imagines the self as generated from one's own forehead at the age of twenty-two, without any status-draining obligations to any other human beings, especially women, for one's existence. Very solipsistic. Very common in the genre, and I don't really have a solid explanation of why it is so popular, but it has been popular for a very long time.

Despite my more mature reservations, I found that bits and scenes and characters and dialogue from Lord of Light have lived vividly in my memory for decades. I highly recommend the book as a piece of SF history and a fun read.

Ta, L.

(And for another bit of random SF history, I note in passing that one of my copies of the book is from Gordy Dickson's library, sold off after his death.)
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.5k followers
October 12, 2012
How Lord of Light Didn't Get Written

[Rainy, black-and-white movie evening. A 30s style cab pulls up next to a seedy entrance, where a hulking DOORMAN is on guard. A FIGURE wearing a trenchcoat and a battered fedora emerges from the cab and hands the driver a bill.]

FIGURE: [Bogart-style growl] Keep the change, kid. Don't blow it all at once.

[His trenchcoat falls open. Underneath he is dressed like THE LORD BUDDHA. Reaction shot of the wide-eyed DRIVER]

DRIVER: You're the Mahasamat-

FIGURE: Call me Sam. [Bogart-style voiceover] They always called me Mahasamatman. I preferred the shorter version.

SAM: [Approaches the entrance] I need to talk to ya boss. Tell him it's urgent.

[A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN with Barbara Stanwyck hair, also in a trenchcoat, comes out of the door. The DOORMAN falls back to let her through]

SAM: [Voiceover] The moment I saw the dame, I knew she was trouble.

WOMAN: Hello Sam. I was wondering when you'd show up.

[She puts her arms around SAM and kisses him. A moment later, two more arms come out of her trenchcoat and also wrap around him. Then two more. SAM suddenly takes off his fedora and pushes her away, causing two of the arms to break off. We see that he is a very young but already balding WOODY ALLEN]

ALLEN: [Trademark New York Jewish whine] No, I can't do this! I mean, oh my God, I'm betraying my cultural identity! What will my analyst say!

[The WOMAN angrily takes off her wig, and we see she is DIANE KEATON. Two more arms break off her coat]

WOMAN: Jesus Christ, Woody, make your mind up! That's the eighth time! Are we doing this movie or not?

VOICE OFF: Cut! Cut, goddammit!

[The picture abruptly shifts from black-and-white to color. ALLEN is still having an anxiety attack]

ALLEN: ... so maybe I should talk this through with Dr. Feinstein, I mean, from the Freudian point of view...

[Enter the PRODUCER, a fat man smoking a cigar]

PRODUCER: Okay Woody, we need to make a call here. Don't get me wrong kid, I love your concept. The Buddha as a wise-cracking private dick. It's great. But this ain't working. Any ideas?

ALLEN: Well... we could do it as a science-fiction novel?

PRODUCER: You write science-fiction, kid?

ALLEN: No... but my friend Roger Zelazny does.

[The PRODUCER and KEATON look at each other and shrug]

PRODUCER: Okay, why not? Tell him to come see me Monday.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,895 reviews10.6k followers
October 6, 2010
I don't even know where to start on this one. Roger Zelazny solidified his position on my favorite authors list with Lord of Light. It's the best writing of his that I've come across so far.

The Plot: Long story short, immortals from Earth set up shop on another world and assumed the guise of Hindu gods. Sam, aka Buddha, Siddhartha, Kalkin, etc., opposes them in each of his lifetimes, reviving Buddhism as a tool in his quest. The final confrontation doesn't disappoint.

As other reviewers have said, the story is mostly one flashback between two bookend chapters. It took a little getting used to. The characters of the "gods" were interesting. I'd read more books about Lord Agni and the rest. I also liked the pray-o-mat machines and the Accelerationists, those who wanted to give humanity advanced technology to speed their spiritual developement.

All in all, it's sci fi in a fantasy wrapper telling a version of the rise of Buddhism from Hinduism. It's one of the best books I read in 2009.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.9k followers
November 12, 2009
6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time" favorites. An absolutely brilliant novel by one of the masters of science fiction. This book is as good as SF gets and ranks up their with Dune and Ender's Game among the best ever. Unlike those other two books, I do believe that this book is MUCH, MUCH better the second time around. The reason for this is that the story jumps around and the background for the story is reavealed slowly so can be a bit confusing at the outset. Therefore, my advice would be to read each chapter of the book AFTER first reading the Wikipedia "plot summary" for that particular chapter. Knowing the "general outline" of each chapter (in my opinion) will not in any way take away from the enjoyment of the story and will actually enhance the experience and your appreciation of the story.

Winner: Hugo Award Best Novel
Nominee: Nebula Award Nest Novel.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,023 followers
December 29, 2015
30Apr2014(ebook): I'm reading this with Sci-fi & Heroic Fantasy group
& I like it better each time I read it. It makes far more sense after the first read, like so many of Zelazny's books, so I can concentrate more on the variety of flavors. Even knowing the ending doesn't hurt. Super ending, too.

Several have mentioned that the story is confusing. If it's your first time reading it, be aware that he intended to publish it as a serial & wrote it in 7 different sections to fit in the magazine. Parts are written in different styles, too. Part 1 is Sam's present, but then he remembers back & the next 5 parts are chronological until they catch up to & make sense of part 1. On a first read, if you're even slightly lost, I'd suggest going back & rereading part one before continuing on to part 7 which continues & ends the story. Weird? Yeah, a little, but the first part is a perfect starting point in many ways & for many reasons that become clear once the story is done.

Can't find an ebook version on here & not sure where this one came from. Oh well, I've got a paperback copy here & have given away a dozen more, so I guess this bit of 'piracy' is OK. The publisher should port this to ebook format ASAP. I keep a few old favorites on my device for those times when I need to start a new book during lunch or have a particularly rough day & need a comfort read. This is definitely one. I expect I'll read it again in another handful of years, a perennial favorite.

Added 31Mar11: It's fantastic that I've read this book a dozen times or so & enjoy it just as much every time. I see I last read it 3.5 years ago. That's a short amount of time for a re-read & I wasn't bored at all.

Written 30Oct07: Typically, the whole story emerges slowly & somewhat confusingly on the first read, but we soon realize that a starship from Earth colonizes an alien planet. Fantasy meets SF as Psi powers, often enhanced by technology, allow the crew to impersonate a mutated version of the Hindu gods, lording it over the passengers. Mind-swapping & cloning allow the old crew to become almost immortal, while the passengers are fruitful & multiply, spreading across the planet & forgetting their roots & technology.

The story centers on Sam, one of the crew, retired god & hero. He doesn't like the new gods & fights heaven through fair & foul means.

Zelazny's mix of science, religion, mysticism & politics is fantastic & unique, as always. His hero, Sam, is insightful, mocking & manipulating. He subtly guides people & events to his advantage, while attempting to topple the gods from their heaven.

The story isn't told in a straightforward manner (big shock) but as flashbacks for over half of it. It's almost disappointing when the story flows linearly, but the action is too intense & the politics too murky to confuse it through further time jumping.

I've read some criticisms of his take on the Eastern religions but, I don't think he made any mistakes. He wasn't trying to recreate the religions of today, but show them in a far-flung future where they were setup by a bunch power hungry people for their own base purposes. He was using them as a vehicle to make his point & felt justified changing them to fit.

I've worn out two copies of this book. It's fantastic. He's one of my favorite authors & this is possibly my favorite book.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,161 reviews2,010 followers
February 7, 2021
I am definitely going to keep this one handy for a reread. I think it is one which will benefit from knowing more at the start, because I certainly floundered around for several chapters trying to sort out the back story.

Despite that I immediately fell for the main character, the man of many names but let's call him Sam. He was the typical lovable rogue with some amazing powers. I enjoyed many of the other characters too, especially Tak, who was living out a reincarnation as an ape.

This is a short book packed with myths and legends, religion and science and much more besides. It was published in 1967 and won the Hugo Award in 1968 and, although it is out of date in some of its views, it is classic sci fi and eminently readable.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,535 reviews1,791 followers
August 13, 2019
There are several elements to this 1967 science-fiction novel.

One is Buddhism and Hinduism, about both of which I know little, but notice some influence. The order of the chapters, with the first chapter dealing with events that occur much later in the narrative than the following couple of chapters, means that the story is structured as a wheel. In the end is the beginning. There could be a continual cycle of death and rebirth in this world with individuals moving through lives and patterns of events repeating themselves, however we learn that the appearance of this world is a deception. The world that Zelazny creates is a deception dominated by Mara who is in part its literal creator. The character of Sam is motivated by compassion for the suffering of at least the human inhabitants of the planet and teaches the possibility of escape from the cycle of rebirth.

However his campaign culminates in several thoroughly uncompassionate battles which deviates I suppose from this being a Buddhist parable. I feel that this undercuts the potential radicalism of the story too as it returns to a familiar storyline of good hero overthrowing evil doers through the application of violence, rather than clever application of radical new religious/philosophical idea causing over generations collapse of the paradigms underpinning repressive regime.

So then there is the other element which is Robinson Crusoe. Given a blank canvas what sort of society do you create? The world we are introduced to in this story has been settled by people from Earth. The Gods who rule, well really reign over since they are largely preoccupied by their own hedonistic pastimes in a private divine realm, are the former officers of some kind of spaceship and some of their descendants. The suffering population who are excluded from the hedonistic divine realm and instead are maintained in a technologically primitive condition are the descendants of the passengers. This social order is maintained in part through the use of reincarnation to reward loyalty and obedience. Those who question or doubt this, ahem, divine order, don't get reincarnated. Mara's importance is due to his technical ability, the tools he invents that give the Gods their power. The deception is that the divine ideology is underpinned by human technology. The state of the mass of the population is the result of an elite policy of repression .

This book stands out because of its Indian setting in the context of a mass of science-fiction and fantasy stories that are recycled Arthurian myths and the like. Although at the same time it conforms to a grand cold war narrative of unfortunate people oppressed by false ideology. The internet comes up with an apt phrase attributed to various people to describe this state of affairs along the lines of the truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. This is where I feel the book veers away from being different and decides to conform instead to type. It is not a change in consciousness that will lead to freedom but a heroic band of people slugging it out on the battlefield. The promise of a different kind of story suggested by the India of myth, legend and philosophy in space turns out to be another one of Mara's deceptions.

Still it is a nice concept and well designed. A witty homage perhaps to Arthur C. Clarke's remark about the difficulty of distinguishing between magic and technology more highly advanced than you are familiar with.
Profile Image for Negativni.
148 reviews65 followers
January 15, 2016
“Why could you not have left me as I was, in the sea of being?"
"Because the world has need of your humility, your piety, your great teaching and your Machiavellian scheming.”

Zelazny je u Gospodaru svjetlosti odlično obradio temu kolonizacije drugog planeta generacijskim brodom. Kolonisti sa umiruće Zemlje došli su na drugi planet, pobili većinu lokalnog (inteligentnog) života, a ostatak pokorili, kolonizirali planet svojim potomcima, a sebe proglasili bogovima temeljenima na hinduističkoj religiji. Oni kontroliraju život na planetu, sprječavaju napredak i određuju tko zaslužuje reinkarnaciju i u kakvo tijelo. Reinkarnacija ovdje stvarno radi, jer su kolonisti razvili sistem prebacivanja "električnih impulsa koji čine osobu" iz jednog tijela u drugo. Oni koji naljute bogove budu reinkarnirani kao psi, majmuni ili neke druge životinje.

Kroz taj božanski ustroj kontrole Zelazny dobro kritizira organizirane religije i njihov uticaj na ljude i društvo. I to uz odličan humor - između ostaloga, tu su molitvomati, automati koji se mole umjesto vjernika za kovanicu, a izgledaju slično kao Jednoruki Jack kockarski automati.

“I'm very gullible when it comes to my own words. I believe everything I say, though I know I'm a liar.”

Zelazny predivno piše, roman je pun predivnih opisa, naprimjer: "Dan bitke osvanuo je ružičasto, poput svježeg ugriza na bedru djevice", a neki odlomci i dijalozi su prave male poetične minijature:

"But I recall the springtime of the world as though it were yesterday—those days when we rode together to battle, and those nights when we shook the stars loose from the fresh-painted skies!
"Did you not love me then?"
"I believe those two loved one another, yes."
"Think carefully. Lady, over all that you have said, over all that you have recalled for me this day. It is not really the man whom you have been remembering. It is the days of carnage through which the two of you rode together. The world is come into a tamer age now. You long for the fire and the steel of old. You think it is the man, but it is the destiny the two of you shared for a time, the destiny which is past, that stirs your mind, and you call it love."

No, roman nije bez mana. Radnja je dosta zbrkana i likovi su slabo definirani, a zbog njihovih čestih mijenjanja imena (jedni bogovi uzimaju uloge drugih) i reinkarnacija, dosta je izazovno pratiti tko je komu što napravio.

Gospodar svjetlosti je objavljen i u ediciji SF Masterworks, gdje omot krasi i citat G.R.R.Martina: "One of the five best SF novels ever written". Martin je kasnije u svojem serijalu Pjesme vatre i leda, kao posvetu, iskoristio "Gospodara svjetlosti" i "Sama" kao glavne likove.

Gospodar svjetlosti je definitivno jedan od najboljih SF romana koje sam pročitao, iako se može čitati i definirati i kao fantasy. Ovo gore napisano o kolonizaciji i tehnologiji se čuje samo usput i nigdje se ne ide u detalje o tehnologijama, neki opisi su dosta poetični, tako da bi se neke stvari mogle gledati i kao metafizika, dakle, fantasy.

Moram pohvaliti i odličan prijevod Nenada Patruna. Nažalost lektor je malo zakazao, ima "nešto" gramatičkih i pravopisnih grešaka, no znali su Izvori i gore tiskati.

Rijetko kojem romanu dajem ocjenu 5 bez predomišljanja, a ovo je jedna od tih prilika. Iako sad kad čitam osvrt imam osjećaj da nisam dovoljno nahvalio roman, da nisam uspio prenijeti koliko je dobar. S ovim osvrtom sam se dosad najviše mučio.

Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
May 14, 2018
This DNF is from way back in the day when I was in high school or college (you know, when dinosaurs stalked the earth). I tried to read my dad's paperback copy of this book and crashed and burned. It was complicated and wordy and I just couldn't engage with it ... so it bored me. I need to give it another shot sometime now that I'm older and smarter, or at least more well-read. :)
Profile Image for Baba.
3,530 reviews788 followers
October 28, 2020
SF Masterworks #7 - such a highly rated and liked book... but this was pure mumbo jumbo for me. A far far future where the Eastern gods reign over their worshippers whilst forever going through their own power struggles. Maybe if I knew something about Eastern / Indian religions I would have enjoyed this more? I really struggled to read this, which I did because I refuse to DNF an SF Masterworks, but, on the flip side force reading probably lead me to having a very negative experience with this boo. 2 out of 12.
Profile Image for Jokoloyo.
449 reviews269 followers
March 7, 2017
In my opinion, Lord of Light (LOL) called as science fiction because the author set the setting as far future, and using technology as the magic system. But the story itself mainly influenced by Indian mythology. But it was not a retelling of Indian myths. The author had done the researched well, based on my very-limited knowledge of Indian myth. The author mixed the myths with his own story. OK, in much harsher words: the author was using Indian mythology for the story. So please don't use LOL as a reference for Indian mythology.

But the main story itself is just ok. The setting based on Indian myth was definitely boost the selling point (and it was first published at 1967, a good timing too: flower people was flourishing in USA).

Profile Image for sologdin.
1,705 reviews609 followers
June 30, 2013
Nutshell: douchebags leave earth, acquire technological immortality, and then, completely reasonably and necessarily, re-enact Hindu mythology.

This concludes my reading of Zelazny, and confirms the general pattern of prior books: chaotic presentation, no discipline, immortal protagonists, silly resolutions. This one tries to do something with Hindu mythology and buddhist theology, much like Creatures of Light and Darkness messed with Egypt and This Immortal flirted with Greece.

Opening section has much promise, with reference to Indian theological concepts (nirvana, samsara, karma, ahimsa). That gets dropped pretty soon thereafter, and the religion & mythology become simply window dressing. Karma becomes a technician’s bailiwick: “the use of psych-probes on those up for renewal” (66), through which “body merchants” read over "your past life, weigh the karma, and determine your life that is yet to come. It’s the perfect way of maintaining the caste system” (67). Bad karma is defined by the state, of course (68), and each person maintains, apparently, a “prayer account” and a “sin account” with the body merchants and karma masters (69). So, yeah, all very interesting.

Main conflict is between Accelerationism and Deicracy; former want to push forward with industrial development, whereas latter want to affix human civilization at a dark ages level, while high tech religious tools for reincarnation and karma are used for biopolitical management. For instance, wine is lost, though one character has preserved some, “from vanished Urath” (55). Accelerationist Buddha objects that they “should be assisting them, granting them benefits of the technology we had preserved, rather than building ourselves an impregnable paradise and treating the world as a combination game preserve and whorehouse” (78). Deicrats' motivation is basically rightwing paternalist: “it is because they are not ready for it […] and will not be for many centuries” (id.) Technology would result in savage wars: “They are our children” (id.). Brahma’s main task is “destroying all signs of progress” (79). Again, all very well laid out and damned interesting.

Great indication that, when humans showed up on this planet, they wiped out the indigenous life, styling them rakshasa and confining them in concentration camps (that was protagonist Buddha’s historical role, for which he is long remembered): “‘I did that which had to be done, to preserve my own species. Men were weak and few in number. Your kind fell upon them and would have destroyed them.’ ‘You stole our world, Siddhartha. You chained us here’” (148).

After that it turns into a friggin’ mess: a parade of deities and demons, who politic behind each others’ backs--hard to track, and not very worthwhile, all together, as it generally leads to some kind of unrepresentable combats between immortals. Overall, then, great opening regarding religion, class, economic development, ideology, imperialism, genocide--all wasted in trivial middle and by inexplicable finale. (Only redeeming feature of later bits is that Nirrti, goddess of decay, appears, but is actually Christian, and commands legions of flesh-eating zombies. I chuckled for an appropriate duration at an appropriate volume.)

Recommended for those who facilitate the passage of spirits from their fleshy envelopes, readers who play on fascist banjos, and people whose fertility deities are worse than marxists.
Profile Image for Martin.
327 reviews135 followers
September 8, 2019
An alien world colonized by humans. The leaders used technology so advanced that they appeared as Hindu gods while their alien enemies became as demons.
One man wishes to give technology to all the common people who worship him as the Buddha.
Not fantasy but hard Science Fiction.

Siddhartha - Binder of the Demons,
Fire elementals,
The Lords of Karma,
Lord Yama - Deathgod,
Tak of the Bright Spear,
Mara - Lord of Illusion,
Mount of Vishnu -the Garuda Bird,
The thunder chariot of Lord Shiva,
Taraka of the Rakasha, Lord of Hellwell demons.

The Wheel of Life
It is said that fifty-three years after his liberation he returned from the Golden Cloud, to take up once again the gauntlet of Heaven, to oppose the Order of Life and the gods who ordained it so. His followers had prayed for his return, though their prayers were sin. Prayer should not trouble one who has gone on to Nirvana, no matter what the circumstances of his going. The wearers of the saffron robe prayed, however, that He of the Sword, Manjusri, should come again among them, The Boddhisatva is said to have heard ...

. . .

His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god. Circumstances being what they were, neither admission could be of any benefit. Silence, though, could.

Therefore, there was mystery about him.

Sam is recalled from Nirvana - the Bridge of the Gods
It was in the days of the rains that their prayers went up, not from the fingering of knotted prayer cords or the spinning of prayer wheels, but from the great pray-machine in the monastery of Ratri, goddess of the Night

The high-frequency prayers were directed upward through the atmosphere and out beyond it, passing into that golden cloud called the Bridge of the Gods, which circles the entire world, is seen as a bronze rainbow at night and is the place where the red sun becomes orange at midday.

Some of the monks doubted the orthodoxy of this prayer technique, but the machine had been built and was operated by Yama-Dharma, fallen, of the Celestial City; and, it was told, he had ages ago built the mighty thunder chariot of Lord Shiva: that engine that fled across the heavens belching gouts of fire in its wake.

Sam remembers his past
"You were Great-Souled Sam, the Buddha. Do you remember?"

"Maybe I was ... " A slow fire was kindled in his eyes.

"Yes," he said then. "Yes, I was. Humblest of the proud, proudest of the humble. I fought. I taught the Way for a time. I fought again, taught again, tried politics, magic, poison ... I fought one great battle so terrible the sun itself hid its face from the slaughter, with men and gods, with animals and demons, with spirits of the earth and air, of fire and water, with slizzards and horses, swords and chariots...”

"And you lost," said Yama.

"Yes, I did, didn't I? But it was quite a showing we gave them, wasn't it? You, deathgod, were my charioteer. It all comes back to me now. We were taken prisoner and the Lords of Karma were to be our judges. You escaped them by the will-death and the Way of the Black Wheel. I could not."

"That is correct. Your past was laid out before them. You were judged." Yama regarded the monks who now sat upon the floor, their heads bowed, and he lowered his voice. "To have you to die the real death would have made you a martyr. To have permitted you to walk the world, in any form, would have left the door open for your return. So, as you stole your teachings from the Gottama of another place and time, did they steal the tale of the end of that one's days among men. You were judged worthy of Nirvana. Your atman was projected, not into another body, but into the great magnetic cloud that encircles this planet. That was over half a century ago. You are now officially an avatar of Vishnu, whose teachings were misinterpreted by some of his more zealous followers. You, personally, continued to exist only in the form of self-perpetuating wavelengths, which I succeeded in capturing."

Sam closed his eyes.

"And you dared to bring me back?"

Who or what are the demons
"Did you read then of the earliest recorded contacts with the Rakasha?"
"I read the accounts of the days of their binding ... "

"Then you know that they are the native inhabitants of this world, that they were present here before the arrival of Man from vanished Urath."


"They are creatures of energy, rather than matter. Their own traditions have it that once they wore bodies, lived in cities. Their quest for personal immortality, however, led them along a different path from that which Man followed. They found a way to perpetuate themselves as stable fields of energy. They abandoned their bodies to live forever as vortices of force. But pure intellect they are not. They carried with them their complete egos, and born of matter they do ever lust after the flesh. Though they can assume its appearance for a time, they cannot return to it unassisted. For ages they did drift aimlessly about this world. Then the arrival of Man stirred them from their quiescence. They took on the shapes of his nightmares to devil him. This is why they had to be defeated and bound, far beneath the Ratnagaris. We could not destroy them all. We could not permit them to continue their attempts to possess the machines of incarnation and the bodies of men. So they were trapped and contained in great magnetic bottles."

Descent into Hellwell
It is told how the Lord of Light descended into the Well of the Demons, to make there a bargain with the chief of the Rakasha. He dealt in good faith, but the Rakasha are the Rakasha. That is to say, they are malefic creatures, possessed of great powers, life-span and the ability to assume nearly any shape. The Rakasha are almost indestructible. Their chiefest lack is a true body; their chiefest virtue, their honor toward their gambling debts. That the Lord of Light went to Hellwell at all serves to show that perhaps he was somewhat distraught concerning the state of the world ...

This way to the bound Demons
Hellwell lies at the top of the world and it leads down to its roots.

It is probably as old as the world itself; and if it is not, it should be, because it looks as if it were.

It begins with a doorway. There is a huge, burnished metal door, erected by the First, that is heavy as sin, three times the height of a man and half that distance in width. It is a full cubit thick and bears a head-sized ring of brass, a complicated pressure-plate lock and an inscription that reads, roughly, "Go away. This is not a place to be. If you do try to enter here, you will fail and also be cursed. If somehow you succeed, then do not complain that you entered unwarned, nor bother us with your deathbed prayers." Signed, "The Gods."

It is set near the peak of a very high mountain named Channa, in the midst of a region of very high mountains called the Ratnagaris. In that place there is always snow upon the ground, and rainbows ride like fur on the backs of icicles, which sprout about the frozen caps of cliffs. The air is sharp as a sword. The sky is bright as the eye of a cat.

Very few feet have ever trod the trail that leads to Hellwell. Of those who visited, most came only to look, to see whether the great door really existed; and when they returned home and told of having seen it, they were generally mocked.

Telltale scratches about the lock plate testify that some have actually sought entrance. Equipment sufficient to force the great door could not be transported or properly positioned, however. The trail that leads to Hellwell is less than ten inches in width for the final three hundred feet of its ascent; and perhaps six men could stand, with crowding, upon what remains of the once wide ledge that faces that door.

It is told that Pannalal the Sage, having sharpened his mind with meditation and divers asceticisms, had divined the operation of the lock and entered Hellwell, spending a day and a night beneath the mountain. He was thereafter known as Pannalal the Mad.

A pact with demons
"It is something of a dilemma. So I will free you now, you alone, to visit the Pole and scout out the defenses of Heaven. In your absence, I will consider the problem further. Do you likewise, and perhaps upon your return an equitable arrangement can be made."

"Accepted! Release me from this doom!"

"Know then my power, Taraka," he said.
"As I bind, so can I loose, thus!"

The flame boiled forward out of the wall.

It rolled into a ball of fire and spun about the well like a comet; it burned like a small sun, lighting up the darkness; it changed colors as it fled about, so that the rocks shone both ghastly and pleasing.

Then it hovered above the head of the one called Siddhartha, sending down its throbbing words upon him:

"You cannot know my pleasure to feel again my strength set free. I've a mind to try your power once more."

The man beneath him shrugged.

The ball of flame coalesced. Shrinking, it grew brighter, and it slowly settled to the floor.

It lay there quivering, like a petal fallen from some titanic bloom; then it drifted slowly across the floor of Hellwell and re-entered the niche.

"Are you satisfied?" asked Siddhartha.

"Yes," came the reply, after a time. "Your power is undimmed. Binder. Free me once more."

"I grow tired of this sport, Taraka. Perhaps I'd best leave you as you are and seek assistance elsewhere."

"No! I gave you my promise! What more would you have?"

"I would have an absence of contention between us. Either you will serve me now in this matter, or you will not. That is all. Choose, and abide by your choice, and your word."

"Very well. Free me, and I will visit Heaven upon its mountain of ice, and report back to you of its weaknesses."

"Then go!"

A wedding in Heaven and only the best are invited
They came. Out of the sky, riding on the polar winds, across the seas and the land, over the burning snow, and under it and through it, they came. The shape-shifters drifted across the fields of white, and the sky-walkers fell down like leaves; trumpets sounded over the wastes, and the chariots of the snows thundered forward, light leaping like spears from their burnished sides; cloaks of fur afire, white plumes of massively breathed air trailing above and behind them, golden-gauntleted and sun-eyed, clanking and skidding, rushing and whirling, they came, in bright baldric, wer-mask, fire-scarf, devil-shoe, frost-greaves and power-helm, they came; and across the world that lay at their back, there was rejoicing in the Temples, with much singing and the making of offerings, and processions and prayers, sacrifices and dispensations, pageantry and color. For the much-feared goddess was to be wed with Death, and it was hoped that this would serve to soften both their dispositions. A festive spirit had also infected Heaven, and with the gathering of the gods and the demigods, the heroes and the nobles, the high priests and the favored rajahs and high-ranking Brahmins, this spirit obtained force and momentum and spun like an all-colored whirlwind, thundering in the heads of the First and latest alike.

image: description

So they came into the Celestial City, riding on the backs of the cousins of the Garuda Bird, spinning down in sky gondolas, rising up through arteries of the mountains, blazing across the snow-soaked, ice-tracked wastes, to make Milehigh Spire to ring with their song, to laugh through a spell of brief and inexplicable darkness that descended and dispersed again, shortly; and in the days and nights of their coming, it was said by the poet Adasay that they resembled at least six different things (he was always lavish with his similes): a migration of birds, bright birds, across a waveless ocean of milk; a procession of musical notes through the mind of a slightly mad composer; a school of those deep-swimming fish whose bodies are whorls and runnels of light, circling about some phosphorescent plant within a cold and sea-deep pit; the Spiral Nebula, suddenly collapsing upon its center; a storm, each drop of which becomes a feather, songbird or jewel; and (and perhaps most cogent) a Temple full of terrible and highly decorated statues, suddenly animated and singing, suddenly rushing forth across the world, bright banners playing in the wind, shaking palaces and toppling towers, to meet at the center of everything, to kindle an enormous fire and dance about it, with the ever-present possibility of either the fire or the dance going completely out of control.

They came.

The beginning of the end
The day of the battle dawned pink as the fresh-bitten thigh of a maiden.

A small mist drifted in from the river. The Bridge of the Gods glistened all of gold in the east, reached back, darkening, into retreating night, divided the heavens like a burning equator.

The warriors of Keenset waited outside the city, upon the plain by the Vedra. Five thousand men, with blades and bows, pikes and slings, waited for the battle. A thousand zombies stood in the front ranks, led by the living sergeants of the Black One, who guided all their movements by the drum, scarves of black silk curling in the breeze like snakes of smoke upon their helms.

Five hundred lancers were held to the rear. The silver cyclones that were the Rakasha hung in the middle air. Across the half-lit world the occasional growl of a jungle beast could be heard. Fire elementals glowed upon tree limb, lance and pennon pole.

There were no clouds in the heavens. The grasses of the plain were still moist and sparkling. The air was cool, the ground still soft enough to gather footprints readily. Gray and green and yellow were the colors that smote the eye beneath the heavens; and the Vedra swirled within its banks, gathering leaves from its escort of trees. It is said that each day recapitulates the history of the world, coming up out of darkness and cold into confused light and beginning warmth, consciousness blinking its eyes somewhere in midmorning, awakening thoughts a jumble of illogic and unattached emotion, and all speeding together toward the order of noontide, the slow, poignant decline of dusk, the mystical vision of twilight, the end of entropy that is night once more.

The day began.

Part Hindu myth, part hard Science Fiction this tale tells of great gods, mighty warriors, priests, merchants through to humble workers. See machines more marvelous than magic. The tale crosses centuries, and religions, to give the common man hope for his future. Simply fantastic!

Profile Image for Alazzar.
261 reviews24 followers
August 10, 2014
[Originally read July 30, 2010-August 8, 2010]

I've long been a fan of Zelazny's Amber series, and in the past, I've heard that he once penned a story that could be even better: Lord of Light. I just finished Lord of Light, and I have to say: I still give the title of "Best Zelazny Story" to the Amber series. But it was a damn close race.

I'm not normally a science-fiction type of guy (fantasy and horror are more to my liking), so I was a little worried going into this book. Even though Zelazny is my favorite author, I wasn't sure I'd like Lord of Light, since I'd read some of his sci-fi short stories before and wasn't overly interested in them (simply because of the subject matter -- not because of the writing, which is always fantastic). Lord of Light took me a little while to get into, but once I finished off that first chapter and delved into the second, I was hooked.

This book tells the story of Sam, who may be Buddha, or may not. He wages a war against men and women who have assumed the roles of Hindu gods, and finds himself fighting against impossible odds while spreading the teachings of Buddhism. I'll admit that I knew next to nothing about Buddhism and Hinduism before reading this book, and I still don't know how much I've learned, simply because I don't know exactly what parts Zelazny took from established religion and what parts he made up himself. But ultimately, it doesn't matter. Sam's crusade is one that I find myself getting behind, regardless of what my real-world beliefs are.

The book got off to a bit of a rocky start for me, simply because the prose was a little more poetic than I'm used to seeing from Zelazny. At first, it was a little off-putting, because it wasn't as easy to read as some of his other works. But then I settled into the style of the voice and came to enjoy the beautiful imagery that he was able to create with his words.

I also found it a little difficult to really immerse myself in the story early on because there were a lot of names being revealed and past events being discussed, about which I had no prior knowledge. So I found myself having to flip back a few pages in the first chapter in order to re-read certain excerpts. But once I got things figured out, it was smooth sailing.

All in all, this is a book I'd recommend to anyone who appreciates an aspect of religion or mythology in their fiction (like Neil Gaiman's American Gods). However, I'd make sure the person knew what they were getting into, and I certainly wouldn't make this the first Zelazny book I put in front of someone. It's a little difficult to get started, and I'd hate for someone to give up on this book and never give Zelazny another chance.

Five stars, well deserved.

[Re-read November 26, 2011-December 01, 2011]

Wow . . . I didn't think it possible, but the book was actually better on the second read.

I've had some problems with certain Zelazny stories in the past, in that I couldn't tell if I truly loved them, or if I was just reacting to the hype I'd read. "A Rose For Ecclesiastes" is a perfect example: I'd always read that it was one of his greatest stories, so when I finally got around to reading it, I couldn't figure out if I enjoyed it because I really liked it, or if I enjoyed it because my brain had been conditioned to believe I should.

I seem to recall having a similar problem with Lord of Light, on the first read-through: I couldn't tell if it was really THAT amazing of a book, or if it was just a fairly amazing book and I was just jumping on the bandwagon.

But, after this second read-through, I know the truth: Lord of Light is fucking fantastic. Seriously, this thing is a masterpiece. Everything is just . . . it's perfect. I don't know how else to say it. All I know is that I'm 100% positive that these are my own views--I'm no longer wondering if the book's reputation is preceding it. It's been a LONG time since I've read a book that I was as into as Lord of Light. And that's saying something, because I've been reading plenty of books that are entirely new experiences for me--and yet, Lord of Light, on a second read-through where I already knew what was happening, was far more captivating.

If you haven't read this book, your life is incomplete.

[Re-read August 03-09, 2014]

Holy crap--I can't believe it's been nearly three years since last I read this book. What is wrong with me?!

(It's still awesome, by the way.)
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews286 followers
March 30, 2011

I had a bit of a hard time following what was going on, at times, with this book. Not because of the so-called non-linear* nature of the story, but mostly just because there were a lot of characters, several of whom at multiple names, and some of which kept changing into other characters.

Also, the general writing style made it hard for me to visualize what was going on in the action sequences sometimes. And there were long bits of dialogue where after the first two lines it doesn't say who's saying what, and after a page or so of that, it gets hard to keep track.

Also, I never really connected emotionally with the characters. I liked Sam, and Yama, and a few of the others, but I wasn't overly invested in the goings on.

But I did find it interesting. At first it was the philosophy and things, as I say there reading and kept thinking "that bit's Buddhist.. that's Hindu... that's - a sort of conglomery... and that's back to Buddhist."

After a bit, the philosophy became less a focus, and it was more about the people and politics and intrigue, and I generally found this interesting, too, but, as I said, I had a hard time following bits.

Actually, I would say I had some of the same problems with this story as I did with the Amber books, so I think it's more just Zelazny's writing style than anything.

But I did like it well enough, and I'm glad I read it. I enjoyed the philsophy stuff, as I said, but I also really enjoyed the commentary/satire of how people use religion as a means of control of the masses. But while I liked it and found it interesting, I have no real need to run out and add it to my owned-shelf, either.

*About the non-linear thing. I don't really see that it is all that non-linear. Granted, it's one of those stories that starts close to the end, and then backtracks to the beginning, to see how you get to the point you started at, and then, once we get caught up, moves to the ending. But after the initial "here's how it begins" thing, the story moves forward linearly. Yes, it does skip days and weeks, but it's always moving forward in the timeline, one thing progressing after the other.

It doesn't jump back and forth and all around the place as suggested in some of the reviews I've read.
Profile Image for Pavle.
409 reviews142 followers
October 17, 2017
Bez obzira što okosnicu romana čine religija i njen odraz na društvo, kolonijalizam, priroda mitova i slobodno mišljenje, da nije Sema, ovo ne bi bilo toliko ubedljivo koliko zapravo jeste. Snažno napisan lik koji narativno čudno konstruisanu priču sprovodi bez imalo problema do kraja. Sve funkcioniše bez većih problema i kao simpatično prepričan hinduistički mitos, ali jednostavno, ono što je ovde posebno, krije se u Semu, koji nikada nije rekao da je bog, ali nikada nije to i porekao, a koji je očito čovek u najboljem smislu te reči.

Profile Image for William.
229 reviews34 followers
November 5, 2021
Lord of light is the story of one man's struggle against a corrupt and powerful Hindu pantheon. Set on a wild science fantasy themed world called Urath, the self-proclaimed Gods have grown comfortable with the quality of life afforded by their power over men, and work to prevent their technological advancement. Additionally, the corrupt Gods have seized control of the reincarnation process previously available to all, and only allow those who agree with them access to healthy bodies. A reincarnation racket, if you will. Mahasamatman, Buddha, or Sam as he prefers, cannot abide this abuse of power and decides Heaven needs to be destroyed.

Roger Zelazny was the leader of a movement in the sci-fi book industry called The New Wave back in the late sixties. They believed the genre had become stale, and set out breath new life into science fiction. Genre bending books like Lord of Light, Amber, Doorways In The Sand, and A Night In The Lonesome October were born from The New Wave. Not only do I agree Zelazny succeeded in his goals at the time, but his books have stood the test of time. Very few writers today ignite my imagination like he does (posthumously). The real trick Zelazny pulled off, and one I wish were more common, is brevity. Zelazny proved you don't need a thousand page literary anvil to tell a great story in an original setting.

I give Lord of Light the highest recommendation to all sci-fi and fantasy fans. It's an unsurpassed classic in every sense, and I wish there were more like it. We miss you Roger.
Profile Image for Gürkan Akkaya.
17 reviews4 followers
May 22, 2016
Işık Tanrısı, şimdiye dek okuduğum hiç bir şeye benzemiyor. Çok farklı, bir o kadar da müthiş bir deneyimdi. Bittikten sonra çok sağlam bir kitap okumuş olmanın verdiği o hazzı yaşadım resmen.

Ama söylemeden olmaz, bu eser herkese göre değil. Bilimkurgu kitabı olarak başlayacaksanız eğer oldukça şaşıracağınızı söyleyebilirim, zira bilimkurgu öğeleri yok denecek kadar az kitapta. Fantastik ağırlıklı bir eser, ama tam olarak öyle de değil :). Roman biraz şiirsel bir dil kullanılarak yazılmış, ama vuku bulan olayları düşündüğümüzde bu eseri daha da etkileyici ve özgün bir hale getiriyor. Sadece çok fazla Hindu mitolojisi tanrı isim ve kültürleri, okumayı biraz zorlaştırıyor diyebilirim.

Kendi adıma eserin bu kadar iyi olmasının en büyük sebebi baş karakterimiz Sam, yani Siddharta, Buddha, Işık Tanrısı vs....okuduğum en etkileyici karakterlerden. Kitap boyunca amacına ulaşmak için gerçekleştirdiği eylemler, diğer tanrılar ile girdiği diyaloglar vs...beni benden aldı resmen.

Bu kadar özgün bir konuyu, bu denli ustalıkla ve şiirsel bir biçimde yazmak sanırım herkesin harcı değil. Zelazny'nin okuduğum ilk kitabıydı ama şimdiden favori yazarlarım arasına girdi bile. Bence okumalısınız, sevmeseniz bile kesinlikle okuduğunuza pişman olmayacağınız bir kitap.
Profile Image for Ryan.
137 reviews52 followers
November 1, 2015
The Good:
So amazing! Great characters, great setting, great ideas, epic scope, and so well written. This is a science fiction story presented like mythology and it works. Did I mention it's funny too?

The Bad:
The only thing really wrong with this is that the story races ahead of the reader, daring you to try and keep up. It's not often that I think a book should be longer, but in the case of this one it needed more exposition.

'Friends' character the protagonist is most like:
Sam is cynical, driven, and the sanest god in the room. He mostly exists to show how freaky everyone else is, much like Monica.
Profile Image for Onur Uslu.
85 reviews22 followers
March 9, 2022
Işık Tanrısı'na başlamamın sebebi, KIRKİKİ (Bilim-Kurgu Klasikleri Okuma Grubu)'nun her ay içerisinde ortak okumaya aldığı kitaplardan en sonuncusu olmasıydı (ki şimdi okuduğum Sürgün Gezegeni o ünvanı aldı.). Her ne kadar grubun hızına yetişemesem de bu kitabı elime alıp okumamı sağladıkları için teşekkür ederim. Tabii onların benim bu çabalarımdan daha haberleri yok ama ileride belli başlı adımlar atacağım! Ve sevgili Işık Tanrısı'nın kelimelerime ışık vurmasını dileyerek kitap hakkındaki düşüncelerime başlıyorum.

Bu kitaba başladığım ve yaklaşık 20-25. sayfaya ulaştığım zaman, "yine bilmediğim yerden vurdu ya..." moduna girerek okumaya başladım. Eskisi kadar araştırmacı ruhum olsaydı 25. sayfada kitabı dondurup Hinduizm ve Budizm mitlojisi hakkındaki bütün bilgileri kütüphanelerden, Google'dan ve bu mitolojiyle ilgili tartışmalardan edinip kitabı okumaya devam ederdim. Faust kitabında buna benzer sıkıntıyı yaşadığım ve acısı hâlâ taze olduğu için, Işık Tanrısı'na devam edip etmemekte çok bocaladım. Velakin Yüzüklerin Efendisi'ndeki Sam gibi kendime çizdiğim o çizgiyi aşarmayı başardım ve Işık Tanrısı'ndaki Sam'in öyküsünü okumaya başladım.

Bu çizgiyi aştıktan sonra ise başıma gelenler şöyleydi genel olarak: Kitaptaki son iki bölüm hariç geri kalan her bölümde, o bölümün kendisini okumaya başlarken zaman o kadar yavaşlamıştı ki kitabı okuma hızım filmlerdeki ağır çekimde hareket etmeye denk gelir. O kadar ağırdı ki sürüne sürüne ilerledim. Çok zorladım, çok yırtındım ve sayfaları her çevirişimde o bölümün evreni beni giderek sardı. O evrenin içinde kendi hissettiğim anda ise zincirlerimden kopup sprint atmaya başlamış gibiydim. Bu son iki bölüm hariç, her bölümde başıma geldi ve asıl ilginç olan kitabı okuma süreciminde aynı şekilde geçmesi. İlk 220 sayfayı okumam herhalde 2 haftayı bulmuşken son 120 sayfa 3 günde bitti. Yani bu kitap sizden gerçekten bir şeyler istiyor ve onun isteklerini yerine getirirseniz size ödülünüde sunuyor!

Bu evrende tanıştığım karakterler ise çok zengin. Sam'in ve onun bütün adlarının yaşadığı hikayeyi dinleyerek ilerliyoruz kitapta ve her hikayede benim Sam'e olan bağlılığım giderek artıyordu. Yama'yı ilk başlarda çok soğuk bulsam da birdenbire okuduğum kitaplar arasındaki derinliği en yüksek olan bir karaktere dönüşüverdi. Taraka'yı iblislerin başı olarak belleyip kötü adam olarak görürken onun zarar görmesinden endişelendim! Kali'nin motivasyonunu takip ederken onun kadınsal içgüdülerinin ne kadar doğal bir şekilde ilerlediğini ve güce olan tutkusunun kendisini nasıl sardığını gözlemledim. Kubera'nın bilginliğiyle ve soğukkanlılığıyla hayran bırakması, Ratri'nin Gece Tanrıçasına yakışır şekildeki verdiği tüyler ürperten, soğuk hali kadar onun bakış açısını kavradıkça bir o kadar samimi bir yapıya sahip bir karakter olduğunu göstermesi, Tak'ın bulunduğu yeni bedeni özümseyip onun avantajlarını kullanarak kendi zekasıyla göründüğünden çok daha iyi olduğunu kanıtlaması, Shiva'nın bu evrene etkisi, Agni'nin keskin korkutuculuğu ve bunun gibi karakterler hakkındaki türlü türlü detaylar bu kitabın en önemli avantajlarından birisi.

Bilimkurgu açısından yaratılan evrenin çok yaratıcı ve ideolojik olduğunu söyleyebilirim. Nitekim bu kitabın bilimkurgudan ziyade fantaziye kaydığını belirtmem gerekiyor. Bazı sahneler öyle epik anlatılmış ki yer yer anime seyrettiğimi hissettim. Onların çarpışması o kadar gerçekçi geldi ki sanki gözümün önünde olup bitiyormuş gibi heyecanla okudum her kelimeyi. Bütün bunların hepsini birleştirip pekiştirdiğimde kitabın sonu için beklentim had safaya ulaşmış oldu ve kitabın sonunda bir parça hayal kırıklığına uğramış olduğumu ne yazık ki söylemem gerekiyor.

Yaratılan bu evrende, evrenin yerlilerinin nasıl bir yaşam sürdüğüne dair bir fikrimiz yok. Evrenin içindeki tanrıların Suretlerini ve Vasıflarını açıklayacak detaylara ulaşamıyoruz. Budizm'in etkisi giderek artarken Hinduizm'in neden güçlü olduğu konusunda Brahma, Vishnu ve Shiva'dan oluşan Trimurti'nin analizleri yeterince aktarılamamış. Kolonizleşme nasıl başarıya ulaşmış, yaratılan makinelerin sağladığı gücün yerliler üzerinde nasıl etkiler yarattığı gibi birçok soru bende yanıtsız kaldı.

Nitekim bu kitabın kesinlikle ikinci kez okunması gerektiğine inanıyorum çünkü söylediğim bütün bu negatif düşüncelerin cevapları belki de kitabın ardında saklanan gerçeklerde gizleniyordu ve ben keşfedemedim. Belki Hint mitolojisine biraz daha hakim olabilseydim neyin nasıl olduğunun idrakına daha çabuk ulaşabilecektim. Bütün bunlardan ötürü şu an için bir şaheser olarak göremesem de bu kitabın okuduğum en özel romanlardan birisi olduğunu düşünüyorum. Çünkü içimizde bir avuç ışık varsa o ışık karanlıkta kalan diğer herkesle paylaşılmaya değerdir.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,478 reviews941 followers
June 8, 2011
this one is le-gen-waitforit-dary, as in the stuff that myths are made of. It could be considered as a memory of our distant past or a glimpse of our future - a multigenerational spaceship that arrives on prehistoric Earth and lays the seeds of civilization as we know it, or the same multigenerational ship that is sent from Earth to colonize the distant stars. I have read some of these ideas in Erich von Daniken slightly provocative speculations from the 70's, but Zelazny does a much better job at presentation

The story is one of avatars and symbols, of the struggle between Light and Death, between freedom and tyranny, of friendship, love, dreams and hope transcending the physical body and continuing as "atman" - spirit, energy, ideas.
The book is a little confusing at the start, due to the decision to start the first chapter somewhere towards the end of the story, with Mahasamatman ressurection after his defeat in the attempt to overthrow the Hinduist Pantheon. The patient reader is rewarded, as the author doesn't set up to confuse and misdirect the attention of the said reader and I found the gradual revelation of the epic scope of the story very appealing.
The major selling point of the novel for me is Zelazny's masterful control of the language, alternating between the archaic phrasing of the Mahabharatta to the modern space faring quips. The prose soars to lyrical heights, as in the meeting between Kalkin and Khali in the Pavilion of Silence, or in the duel between Yama-Dharma and the nameless Buddha apprentice.

I've saved a couple of quotes to illustrate this:

[I] "But I recall the springtime of the world as though it were yesterday—those days when we rode together to battle, and those nights when we shook the stars loose from the fresh-painted skies!" [/I]

[I] Then, as so often in the past, her snowy fur was sleeked by the wind.
She walked where the lemon-colored grasses stirred. She walked a winding track under dark trees and jungle flowers, crags of jasper rising to her right, veins of milk-white rock, shot through with orange streaks, open about her. [/I]

I liked The Great Book of Amber when I first read it last year. I think Lord of Light is even better.
Profile Image for Gretchen Rubin.
Author 43 books83.9k followers
August 16, 2018
I'm a big fan of science fiction/fantasy, so I'd heard about this book over the years -- and finally picked it up. It's a very unusual, compelling story. Be warned, it takes a few chapters to get situated into the universe, to understand what's going on, so give yourself some time to concentrate and read without interruption. Once the world and the conflict is established, it's FASCINATING. I will definitely re-read it, because it's the kind of book that I find more enjoyable the second time, because I can appreciate the nuances of what's going on -- because I understand the basic action of the book.
Profile Image for Nikola Pavlovic.
268 reviews40 followers
June 3, 2019
Moja prva procitana knjiga Rogera Zelaznog!
Odmah nakon nje sam otisao do lika koji je imao na prodaju kompletne Hronike Ambera.
Za par dana sam ih procitao :)
Necu spojlovati, samo cu reci KAKAV STIL PISANJA, KAKVI LIKOVI, KAKAV ZAPLET i ponovo KAKAV STIL PISANJA! Jedna od najvaznijih knjiga u zanru!
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews184 followers
April 23, 2019
From what I read about Roger Zelazny, he liked his mythology. From what I read from Roger Zelazny, he had not only an excellent understanding of mythology but an almost magical power to effortlessly weave it into a story. This was reflected in almost all of his writing, where Zelazny not only tapped into various mythologies, but breathed immense life and force into them. Zelazny created wonderful mythological worlds of his own fulled by the brilliant of his imagination.

Lord of Light, a novel he won a Hugo award for is an excellent example of that. It tells a tale of future human society where a group of individuals has achieved immortality and a god like status. Through the use of technology, this group has achieved god like powers. All of these gods were once humans, a crew that found a planet inhabited by beings they learned to control and simply took the planet from them. These 'gods' model themselves on Hindu gods. While in different bodies, during their many lives, they gave birth to many who in turn gave birth to more, and at the time of this novel the planet is well populated. These fake gods rule over all these people, controlling the reincarnation process and basically holding the ultimate power. Until, one of them decides to rebel. Now why would one of them choose to do so? Perhaps because he never truly became one of them. He never accepted the god status. A bitter sweet kind of hero, Sam makes for a fascinating protagonist. If you're familiar with other Zelanzy's hero, you're surely see some similarities in his Byronic ways. Sam is flawed, wonderfully eloquent and more sincere than he wishes to admit.

“His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god.” Who is Sam? He is one of the original crew, a man who didn't want to be a god but managed to become one anyway. The first chapter opens with Sam being rescued from nirvana, but soon the story will digress to tell us more of the past. The novel isn't exactly told in linear fashion and this could be confusing to some. If you have just started this novel, please don't give up. Things become clear enough soon enough.

I said that this planet is ruled by a group of individuals, most of them part of the original crew that discovered the planet. They imitate Hindu gods and are worshiped by planet's inhabitants whom they occasionally visit. The start of the novel is a bit confusing. If this is a Hindu world, how come Sam reached nirvana? Yes, the protagonist of the novel was challenging the Hindu gods by introducing Buddhism to their people. Nirvana was his punishment, instead of killing him, the gods have found a way to transport Sam's mind into a state of bliss, this turning his religion of choice against him. The gods are definitely not stupid, they are more than worthy opponents to Sam and his few allies.

"Who are you, man?"
"I? I am nothing," replied the other. "A leaf caught in a whirlpool. A feather in the wind..."
"Too bad," said Yama, "for there are leaves and feathers enough in the world for me to have labored so long only to increase their number. I wanted me a man, one who might continue a war interrupted by his absence-a man of power who could oppose with that power the will of gods. I thought you were he."
"I am"-he sqinted again-"Sam. I am Sam. Once- long ago... I did fight, didn't I? Many times..."
"You were the Great-Souled Sam, the Budda. Do you remember?"
"Maybe I was.." a slow fire was kindled in his eyes.
"Yes," he said then. "Yes, I was. Humblest of the proud, proudest of the humble. I fought. I taught the Way for a time. I fought again, taught again, tried politics, magic, poison.. I fought one great battle so terrible the sun itself hid its face from the slaughter-with men and gods, with animals and demons, with spirits of the earth and air, of fire and water, with slizzards and horses, swords and chariots-"
"And you lost," said Yama.
"Yes, I did, didn't I? But it was quite a showing we gave them, wasn't it? You, deathgod, were my charioteer. It all comes back to me now. We were taken prisoner and the Lords of Karma were to be our judges. You escaped them by the will-death and the Way of the Black Wheel. I could not.”

At the start of novel, Sam is rescued from nirvana by his friends. Why Buddhism and not some other religion? That's an interesting question, isn't it? Sam said that it was because he didn't care for being put on a cross, but I think that is not all. It is perhaps because of the way Buddhism grew from Hinduism. It is perhaps a more smooth philosophical transition for the planet's inhabitants. Because it is a subtle religion, it is harder to fight it. If all this sounds like this novel is full of theological questions, it is because it is. Lord of Light is a philosophical kind of science fiction. It mixed technology with religion in a fascinating way. It is an intelligent and an inspired piece of writing. Never has a novel been more worthy of a Hugo award. This is science fiction at its best.

“Call themselves?" asked Yama. "You are wrong, Sam, Godhood is more than a name. It is a condition of being. One does not achieve it merely by being immortal, for even the lowliest laborer in the fields may achieve continuity of existence. Is it then the conditioning of an Aspect? No. Any competent hypnotist can play games with the self-image. Is it the raising up of an Attribute? Of course not. I can design machines more powerful and more accurate than any faculty a man may cultivate. Being a god is the quality of being able to be yourself to such an extent that your passions correspond with the forces of the universe, so that those who look upon you know this without hearing your name spoken. Some ancient poet said that the world is full of echoes and correspondences. Another wrote a long poem of an inferno, wherein each man suffered a torture which coincided in nature with those forces which had ruled his life. Being a god is being able to recognize within one's self these things that are important, and then to strike the single note that brings them into alignment with everything else that exists. Then, beyond morals or logic or esthetics, one is wind or fire, the sea, the mountains, rain, the sun or the stars, the flight of an arrow, the end of a day, the clasp of love. One rules through one's ruling passions. Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

Sam is the opposition, but who are the gods? They are a mixed lot. There is a love triangle of sorts, between Sam, the god of death and a lady who changes her deity during the course of the novel. She is quite a woman. Sam and she go way back. “But I recall the springtime of the world as though it were yesterday—those days when we rode together to battle, and those nights when we shook the stars loose from the fresh-painted skies!” Sam and the god of death have a relationship that is just at interesting. Once they were enemies, but the god of death not only comes to Sam's aid, he wakes him up from nirvana. As I said, the novel's narrative isn't linear, but somehow that seems very appropriate as well. It gives a different view of characters...and what characters they are! Highly recommended reading! I'm not even sure how many times I have reread this book and if you ask me that's the best recommendation any reader can give.
Profile Image for Aerin.
149 reviews529 followers
February 7, 2018
(Original review date: 17 March 2009)

On page one of Lord of Light, Zelazny drops the reader smack into the middle of an epic and eternal struggle, taking place on a distant planet in the distant future. It's an incredibly disorienting way to enter a story, especially one as bizarre and complicated as this one is. The structure of the novel is no help, either - it's divided into seven long and loosely-connected chapters, presented out of chronological order with no way for the reader to know, at first, that this is the case. The prose is grandiloquent and old-fashioned, which matches the book's mythic themes, but does nothing for clarity. And the overall premise of the novel is revealed only gradually, in broken bits and pieces throughout the narrative. As such, I spent the first half of this book having no idea what was going on.

So it's fair to say that overall, this is a dense, confusing, and difficult book. It is also, in retrospect, an extraordinary book, and I look forward to reading it again now that I know what it's all about. I can't think of any other book I've read recently that so demands to be reread.

In this paragraph and the next, I'll explain the basic premise of the novel. So if you're planning on reading this book and prefer to be confused surprised, you might want to skip them. Lord of Light takes place on an unnamed planet, which had been colonized by a single spaceship of humans centuries earlier. Earth is either gone or else completely out of contact. The planet's original inhabitants, incorporeal beings of great power, were completely subjugated early on, and the ship's passengers quickly began to populate the planet. The ship's crew, on the other hand, possessed extremely advanced technology, whether brought from earth, or developed during their war against the aliens. Importantly, they had mastered cloning and the ability to transfer human minds across bodies, which gave them literal immortality. After the war, they began to rule over the planet's human population as gods, modeling themselves after the Hindu pantheon. They jealously hoarded all technology for themselves, keeping the rest of the planet in preindustrial conditions, and demanding worship in exchange for access to reincarnation. Only two of the crew rebelled against this social order: the ship's Christian chaplain, who rejected the Hinduism if not the godlike powers, and so became a dangerous and isolated adversary. And Sam, who objected on the grounds that all people should have access to technology - which of course would jeopardize the gods' only claim to authority.

We enter this story toward the end - after Sam has already mounted one great effort against the gods, been defeated, been killed, and been unexpectedly reincarnated half a century later. In flashbacks, we learn how Sam became convinced that the gods must be brought down, how he introduced Buddhism to the masses by himself reenacting the life of the Buddha, how he freed the imprisoned alien life forms and gathered them, along with troops of men, rebel gods, and the chaplain's zombie army, in a great but futile battle against heaven. Finally, in the last chapter, we return to the present time and witness Sam's final, apocalyptic confrontation with the gods.

This book has much to say, about politics, power, technology, morality, religion, and greed. It can be read as science fiction, as myth, as allegory, or as a fantastical retelling of Buddhism's early history. It has very sober moments and very silly moments. But the highlight for me, while reading this for the first time, was finding the little easter eggs of information about the characters' distant past. As we join the story, the gods have been ruling the planet for many, many lifetimes. It is only here and there that Zelazny reveals bits of who they were when they were just a starship crew, their old personalities and relationships, and how these have been corrupted by centuries of immortality and ultimate power. Also interesting, but even more rare, are details about the planet's pre-human history, how its original life forms lived, and how their way of life was destroyed with the arrival of man.

There is much to marvel at in this book. I'd like to go back and focus more on its mystical and religious aspects, because it borrows heavily from Hindu scriptures and Buddhist history, and I skimmed over much of that this time in my quest to figure out what the freaking plot was. Like I said, it's a difficult book. But also an incredible book. It's like nothing else I've ever read in science fiction.
Profile Image for Димитър Цолов.
Author 28 books267 followers
October 16, 2020
Според читателското ми дневниче съм отметнал този роман още при излизането му на български през далечната 1993. Притежавам и първото хартиено издание, от което, доста по-късно разбрах, липсвала последната седма глава... егати пропуска, егати нещото... без нея/с нея финалът се извърта на 180 градуса... Както и да е, не пазех никакви спомени от предишния прочит, та с удоволствие повторно се потопих в митологично-технологичния микс на Зелазни, включен в луксозната подборка Смъртта и светлината. И лекинко почнах да подозирам откъде Дан Симънс е почерпил вдъхновение за своя мащабен опус Илион / Олимп (разбира се, мога и да се лъжа, ама... ама...). Идеята за хора, развили силите си до степен да се превърнат в божества едва ли е нова за световната литература по времето, по което Зелазни пише романа си, но пък той ѝ прави такава блага трактовка, омешвайки мистика, философия, поезия и... всичко каквото се сетите, че направо примирах от удоволствие по време на четенето. И това в комбинация с уникално чувство за хумор, вплетено в убийствено добри диалози... Може би едни бележки под линия, обясняващи връзките между персонажите от Индийската митология щяха да стоят добре, но пък с помощта на Леля Уикипедия доволно изсърбах тая божествена каша.
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