Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


Lord of Light (1967)

by Roger Zelazny

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,2101152,115 (4.02)183
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.
  1. 61
    The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin (storyjunkie)
    storyjunkie: Both books carry a philosophical weight to their world-saving. A similar atmosphere to their protagonists, worlds, and occupancy of a more soul-searching lot in the science fiction spectrum make them nicely complementary to each other.
  2. 20
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (WildMaggie)
  3. 20
    Creatures of Light and Darkness by Roger Zelazny (PMaranci)
    PMaranci: Another award-winning novel by Roger Zelazny in which science fiction and classic Earth mythology intertwine.
  4. 00
    WebMage by Kelly McCullough (aqualectrix)
  5. 00
    Cybermancy by Kelly McCullough (aqualectrix)
  6. 00
    Shield by Poul Anderson (MinaKelly)
  7. 00
    The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Lucy_Skywalker)
  8. 11
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (LamontCranston)
  9. 00
    Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: The same premise of advanced science mimicking religion
  10. 12
    Silverlock by John Myers Myers (boneslv)
    boneslv: It also has many famous literary characters in it.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 183 mentions

English (112)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (115)
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
Recommended and gifted to me as The Best Book Ever Written. I learned a lot about Hindu religion. Written at a time when the Beatles and the Stones were very into their Indian influences, the story follows the leaders (seen as gods) on a planet, their fights and abilities, to influence the inhabitants. The pun in the book is (SPOILER), the character the Shan, being given an epileptic body during a rejuvenation - 'Then the fit hit the Shan'. I found the political motivation of giving the people the power of the gods old fashioned, and the very well written fight scenes not to my taste, but can appreciate how the book must have been quite a revolutionary one at the time (1967). Repression, cloning, reincarnation, deception. ( )
  AChild | May 30, 2024 |
After hearing about this book for decades, I finally got around to reading it. I can see why some people love it. But frankly, its time-shifting narrative structure was so confusing that I was actually tempted to see if my bookmark had fallen out at some point and then been put back in the wrong place. I bulled my way through it, and I'm glad I did so. But it was more of a slog than I would have expected from such a widely hailed SF classic. ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
First thing I read about this book is that it is little bit convoluted and stories are not told in order so that it might be difficult to follow. Second thing I came across is that one needs to try very hard to follow the story because its elements are a little bit confusing.

All of the above caused me to delay reading this book - while I enjoy "convoluted", Memento-like novels I need to be in the mood to go through them.

And then I took the book. And then I started wondering if reviewers that stated the above were actually reading the same book because I found no issue with it in regard to their comments.

Story is very quick in pace, witty dialogue (especially between members of the Pantheon) and characters are really great.

In the foreword of the edition I read it states that at the same time with this book [a:Frank Herbert|58|Frank Herbert|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1168661521p2/58.jpg]'s [b:Dune|234225|Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)|Frank Herbert|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1434908555s/234225.jpg|3634639] came out. Dune became the more popular one and foreword author wonders why.
For me reason is pretty straightforward - in Dune, theology is no different from the Earth's current traditions - you have people with super-powers (as a result of very specific and precise inter-breeding programs) leading vast armies to conquer space (I mean just check what Leto Jr. became at the end). People truly end up one-man armies and divine-like creatures and are basically self-fulfilling prophecy of the Bene Gesserit [that created these omnipotent human beings in the first place]. So from how-to-control-human-race plan we get [as a result] beings of legends that are actually truly omnipotent beings that cannot be described in no other way but as divine.

So nothing new here - lots of elements very common in all of the religions and religious teachings human society encountered so far. Even Fremen are nothing but echo of devout desert tribe of Abrachamic religion lore. Even when Leto Jr decides to let humanity spread among the stars religion is still very much part of life.

And then we have Zelazny's pantheon - these are not divine beings as in Dune but above-average people (in intellect and physique - to be honest this depends on how they end up reincarnated) that use technology - armor, augmented wands, swords, spears, fighting craft, combat machines of every type - to do divine actions. Without these they are above-average human beings but can be brought down in an instance by ordinary people on the field of battle. As soon as they are stripped of their armor, weapon or control mechanisms for the same they fall down in combat as fast as everyone else.

Even their immortality aspect is thanks to the machines and cloning - by moving one's soul into freshly crafted clone (or animal or truly corrupted human body - depending what the "head honcho" Brahma wants do to with people), aka reincarnation.

Problem is that after some time elite that fought the natives of the newly discovered planet deemed themselves above the other colonists and decided to take the control of technology by getting rid (as in killing off) of or accepting into their ranks anyone who knew anything about the technology. The rest - they are told to be good and behave. After couple of generations in which every attempt to progress is cruelly stamped on, the rest lost every previous knowledge and soon devolved into feudal societies. "Pantheon" on the other hand after several lives and reincarnations started believing that they are truly divine creatures and they control everyone below with iron fist and by promising them divinity if they behaved [after a while of course and with disclaimer we-don't-know-when-if ever].

And then Sam, one of the Heaven's finest executioners and combat leaders figures out that what started as war against the native creatures of the planet for sake of the colonists turned into bloodbath and complete oppression of human kind for the sake of the few. Sohe starts the fight against the "Pantheon" that takes years, and several reincarnations but ultimately he succeeds. He ignites the revolt by quoting original religious texts from Earth because he knows the effect of words on general populace and this does the trick. As he says at the end - he started seeding the revolt with the words using words as weapons but at the end he is glad he did it because ideas in those words are good and excellent beacon to guide ones life, they only fall short when it comes to the implementing them in human society. They are ideals and they should remain as such.

And this is the main difference between Herbert's and Zelazny's work - for Zelazny presented divine beings as nothing than petty humans with technology - without it they don't come up to much. They have pantheon because they cannot allow for some of them to join the lower ranks and spread the truth - pantheon is the only way to hold everyone together in the Heavenly domain. This is not a messianic tale (like one of Paul and Leto Jr) but tale of people getting rid of the chains enforced onto them by theocratic society and finally prospering with use of science and common sense. Also there is very subtle presentation of polytheism and monotheism through the actions of Dark One expelled from the Heavenly domain because he wants all of the power for himself.

So this is more touchy book that hits a cord where it is not supposed to. To present it just as another Prometheus story is to err in my opinion.

Novel is about wielding great power with responsibility and enabling better life for all, not just for the few.
Also novel tackles the question of knowledge as shown through character of Yama. While all reincarnated beings need to re-learn their abilities only Yama is always reincarnated with all knowledge because of simple reason - he learns and remembers and keeps the knowledge, does not reinvent the wheel over and over again.

Interestingly enough main character, Sam, is nothing than the catalyst here. He lives, he dies only to be brought back to life for a simple reason - because of his ideas of progress and sharing knowledge.

Great novel, highly recommended to all SF fans.
( )
  Zare | Jan 23, 2024 |
Not too sure why this was science fiction, all the characters name were weighted with history. Was interesting and certainly well written, however there were a lot of characters to attempt to keep track of. I definitely feel a bit lost, especially with how the story began. Will forget the book tomorrow anyway... ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
While it had a weird start, It got a lot better. loved it. ( )
  Vitaly1 | May 28, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
As opening lines of novels go, Lord of Light's are among the best I've ever read, and based on how many people have quoted them to me in the last few weeks, the best a lot of you have ever read, too. In twenty-five words, they capture the best-loved aspects of the book — the seamless blend of antiquated cadence and insouciant modern vernacular, of modest sincerity and dry humor — and more, they tell us, in part, what the story is about.
added by lorax | editio9, Josh Wimmer (May 9, 2010)
Fantasy disguised as science fiction disguised as fantasy: Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light
added by sturlington | editTor.com, Jo Walton (Nov 9, 2009)

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zelazny, Rogerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brambilla, FrancoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, George R. R.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, StevenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walotsky, RonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
To Dannie Plachta,
of friendship, wisdom, soma.
First words
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.
Names are not important... To speak is to name names, but to speak is not important. A thing happens once that has never happened before. Seeing it, a man looks upon reality. He cannot tell others what he has seen. Others wish to know, however, so they question him saying, 'What is it like, this thing you have seen?' So he tries to tell them. Perhaps he has seen the very first fire in the world. He tells them, 'It is red, like a poppy, but through it dance other colors. It has no form, like water, flowing everywhere. It is warm, like the sun of summer, only warmer. It exists for a time upon a piece of wood, and then the wood is gone, as though it were eaten, leaving behind that which is black and can be sifted like sand. When the wood is gone, it too is gone.' Therefore, the hearers must think reality is like a poppy, like water, like the sun, like that which eats and excretes. They think it is like to anything that they are told it is like by the man who has known it. But they have not looked upon fire. They cannot really know it. They can only know of it. But fire comes again into the world, many times. More men look upon fire. After a time, fire is as common as grass and clouds and the air they breathe. They see that, while it is like a poppy, it is not a poppy, while it is like water, it is not water, while it is like the sun, it is not the sun, and while it is like that which eats and passes wastes, it is not that which eats and passes wastes, but something different from each of these apart or all of these together. So they look upon this new thing and they make a new word to call it. They call it 'fire.'"If they come upon one who still has not seen it and they speak to him of fire, he does not know what they mean. So they, in turn, fall back upon telling him what fire is like. 'As they do so, they know from their own experience that what they are telling him is not the truth, but only a part of it. They know that this man will never know reality from their words, though all the words in the world are theirs to use. He must look upon the fire, smell of it, warm his hands by it, stare into its heart, or remain forever ignorant. Therefore, 'fire' does not matter, 'earth' and 'air' and 'water' do not matter. 'I' do not matter. No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him. He looks upon the great transformations of the world, but he does not see them as they were seen when man looked upon reality for the first time. Their names come to his lips and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming. The thing that has never happened before is still happening. It is still a miracle. The great burning blossom squats, flowing, upon the limb of the world, excreting the ash of the world, and being none of these things I have named and at the same time all of them, and this is reality — the Nameless.
I have many names, and none of them matter.
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, 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.
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (4.02)
0.5 2
1 20
1.5 8
2 62
2.5 20
3 197
3.5 58
4 369
4.5 66
5 463

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 208,926,849 books! | Top bar: Always visible