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Bryan

Bry's Bountiful Book Blog

Because I need a place where I can pretend that people are reading what I'm writing...
Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny

Another fine novel by Roger Zelazny, and one that more than makes up for the lowest points of the Amber series. This has been touted as a science fiction classic, but it actually reads like epic fantasy. I was fairly impressed that despite the rather modern-sounding dialogue, Zelazny was able to keep up a consistently mythic tone throughout the entirety of the story, making it feel like I was reading the Ramayana or something of that sort. In this way, Zelazny managed to achieve his stated goal of writing a book that blurs the line between fantasy and science fiction without actually crossing that line; this is certainly science fiction, but it sounds like fantasy.

 

The basic story, without giving away anything crucial, is of a far distant planet where individuals, most of whom were originally of Indian descent, are using technology to help them play the role of gods of the Hindu pantheon. My knowledge of Hindu mythology was fairly limited before reading Lord Of Light, but from all the Wiki-ing that I did while reading this novel, it seems like Zelazny really knew his stuff. After reading it, I felt a little bit more informed, but now more than ever I find myself interested in doing some more reading on the myths of this particular culture. Mythology has always interested me, and Zelazny does a great job of repackaging Hindu characters into something easily digestible by an English-speaking SFF audience.

 

The plot was riveting, the worldbuilding was great, there was plenty of action, and there were some very poignant insights to be gleaned about the both the general nature and various facets of religion...if there was anything missing in this story, it was probably characterizations, specifically female characters. There were a couple (three, if you count Brahma) of women and they were not portrayed particularly well or with much empathy. Granted, this story was published in 1967, but that's actually a somewhat shitty excuse. Although the politics of our day are quite a bit different from when this book was written, it seems to me that if you have a large cast of characters and you choose to largely portray women as objects of sexual attraction, you lose marks. Still a terrific story, though.