Lord of Light

by Roger Zelazny
Reviewed date: 2004 Dec 1
Rating: 3
319 pages
cover art

Sam is the Buddha. On a planet where Earth is a distant memory, men fancy themselves gods: they live forever by transfering their minds to new bodies, they style themselves after Hindu gods and goddesses, and they take upon themselves Aspects of deities and wield Attributes of power against mortal men and their fellow gods.

Sam is the Buddha. He fights the self-styled gods by spreading the enlightment of Buddhism. The oppressed mortal men of the planet take to his philosophy, but the gods are displeased. Rapid progress of any kind among the men threatens their position of power. So Sam must die.

Lord of Light won a Hugo, but the competition must have been poor that year. Lord of Light is difficult to read. Zelazny has a habit of jumping from scene to scene without notifying the reader--no section break, nothing. Just all of a sudden he starts talking about different characters. His other bad habits include failure to name characters at the beginning of scenes. Maybe it is artistic to withhold the names in the first few paragraphs of a scene--referring to the characters only as "he" and "she" or "the man" or "the old woman" or some such. I found it exceedingly annoying because there was no clear purpose to it. It is not clever, it does not create suspense, and it is not necessary for the plot. All it does is antagonize the reader by making the story difficult to read. I for one like to know who I'm reading about, and I don't appreciate having to wait a page or two for the author to get around to mentioning who it is he's writing about.

I do not recommend Lord of Light.

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