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Delusion's Master by Tanith Lee
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Delusion's Master (1981)

by Tanith Lee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tales from the Flat Earth (3)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

In Delusion??s Master, the third of Tanith Leeƒ??s FLAT EARTH novels, weƒ??re introduced to another Prince of Darkness: Chuz, the Prince of Madness, who is handsome when seen from one side and hideous when seen from the other. Chuz watches humans and uses the opportunities they give him to practice his craft: There were several doors by which Madness might enter any house; one was rage, one jealousy, one fear.

We first meet Chuz when a jealous queen tries to get rid of the baby she believes has caused the king to stop loving her. When she accidentally kills the child and her husband puts her aside, Chuz shows up to comfort her by helping her descend into madness. When he offers to grant her a wish, she asks that Chuz make her husband, the king, as mad as she is. Thatƒ??s why the king decides to build a tower to heaven where he will wage war on the gods. Everyone knows that pride comes before the fall so, sure enough, disaster strikes the land. This sets off a string of strange events that have the demons, once again, meddling in the affairs of men.

The beautiful demon Azhrarn, from the first two FLAT EARTH books, continues to be a main character. When he becomes involved in Chuzƒ??s doings on earth, we see Azhrarn get his feelings hurt, seek revenge, fall in love, and have a child. The demons are not like the uncaring gods above ƒ?? they are passionate creatures. Occasionally they can be tender and compassionate with favored mortals, but their fickle emotions can suddenly turn to vanity, petty jealousy, and hate. And then the humans suffer.

Delusionƒ??s Master is quite a bit shorter than Nightƒ??s Master and Deathƒ??s Master and Chuz, the title character, isnƒ??t nearly as interesting as Azhrarn, but fortunately we get plenty of Azhrarn here. All of the FLAT EARTH tales have been dark, but Delusionƒ??s Master actually gets uncomfortable because it includes baby killing, rape, and the torture of a mentally disabled girl. The imagery is vivid and I admit that I squirmed. Still, Tanith Lee continues to enchant us with the exotic setting and peerlessly gorgeous writing.

There are several biblical allusions in this installment: the Tower of Babel, the Flood, redemption of humanity through death, and manƒ??s natural hatred of snakes. The most beautiful moment in the book is when Azhrarn goes up to the Earth to find out why men hate snakes and then, as a favor to snakes, sets out to make them more palatable to humans.

Iƒ??m still enjoying this series on audio. Susan Duerdenƒ??s narration gets even better with each book. Each also has an interesting introduction by Tanith Lee. In this one she talks about how her mother influenced her writing. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Delusion's Master, the third in her "Flat Earth" series is centered upon Chuz, another prince of the Underearth who is Lord of illusion and madness. Azhrarn, "Night's Master" is also prominent in the book. Lee creates and unforgettable world in this series that doesn't feel derivative of any other fantasy world, and with lush, luminous prose. Not only is Lee's prose gorgeous but there's enough imagination to fill several ordinary books. No filler, no padding here, this is even shorter than Night's Master and can be inhaled in one sitting. A fairy tale for adults--with biblical allusions and tales of the creation of the cat and of the hatred of snakes by humankind--although this is the darkest of the Flat Earth tales yet, Unforgettable. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 29, 2012 |
Next in the Flat Earth series, and it focusses a bit more on the demon of darkness than the one of madness, mostly because Chuz wants to punish Azhrarn who wants to punish humanity for worshiping the gods instead of thanking him for saving them. The madness is both subtle and overt, taking many forms, and is often caused by love. I didn't like this one as much as the others in the series, it didn't feel as emotionally deep (the snake fingers on the cover got a post it note pasted over them as well). ( )
  silentq | Feb 1, 2012 |
I have had occasion to remark on my love for everything Arabian Nights related before, but even among the category Tanith Lee’s Tales from the Flat Earth has always been a particular favourite. I think at least one of the reasons is that those volumes don’t just decorate their stories with same exotic oriental trappings, but attempt a more comprehensive evocation, encompassing not just the setting but also the narrative structure with its serpentine plot twists and abundance of framing devices. And there is of course the always-gorgeous prose of Tanith Lee (which I’m actually experiencing for the first times for the Flat Earth books as I’d previously only read them in German translation) that never fails to enchant.

Delusion’s Master is Chuz and he is another of Tanith Lee’s deliciously twisted creations – it is a pity that he is mostly pulling the strings in the background in this volume and not getting a lot of on-stage time. Or it would be a pity if we did not get a lot Azhrarn instead, the Prince of Demons who I am sure nobody who ever read Night’s Master will forget about. This time, the plot is considerably more straightforward and less involved than in the two previous installments – but within its slim volume it still packs more unpredictable twists and delightful surprises than most doorstopper trilogies. It is fantastic that Norilana are making those available again, and there’s even new volumes planned, which I’m very much looking forward to.
  Larou | Dec 25, 2011 |
Tanith Lee seems to be a "love her or hate her" kind of author. While I haven't enjoyed all of her books, there are 3 that made strong impressions on me as a young 20-something. One was Delusion's Master, which is really the third in that series but I mistakenly read it first. (The other two are The Silver Metal Lover and Electric Forest.) While I also enjoyed Night's Master and Death's Master, they didn't live up to this one. Never before had I seen characters with such depth of emotion and quiet drama (just perfect for dramatic 20-year old me). It was a stunning entree into the world of fantasy for this reader. ( )
1 vote Jubercat | Oct 10, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tanith Leeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kelly, Ken W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Posen, MickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A mile from the enameled walls of the city, where the desert lay gleaming like golden glass, a beautiful woman sat in a stone tower, and she played with a bone.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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