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    LORD OF LIGHT by Roger Zelazny

    Ace, 1967

    In the distant future, humans have settled a new world. The world had terrible powers that fought any human settlement and the early settlers were forced to develop terrible powers to use against them. After winning, they resolved to protect their descendents from the risk of misusing these weapons by adopting a Hinduism-based religion and reality. Those who led the battles became gods. Their descendents could have their souls moved from body to body, until they too were judged worthy to become gods. Above all else, the True Death was feared. That, at least, was the story. Some believed that the gods gloried in their powers and suppressed any progress. Among these was Mahasamatman, a.k.a. Sam--perhaps the greatest of the early warriors.

    Sam creates a new religion to counter the Hindu-based faith of the gods. He becomes the enlightened one teaching an alternate path. When the gods send their assassin, Sam takes him in until he becomes truly enlightened. Eventually, the gods decide to crush Sam, yet not all are agreed. Could he be right, and do the gods have the right to war on other gods?

    LORD OF LIGHT is one of the great Science Fiction novels of all time. Zelazny (see all reviews of novels by this author) develops a host of sympathetic characters: Sam himself; Yama, the Death God; Sugata, the assassin who found enlightenment; Tak, the archivist. The plot is powerful and both sides of the great war certainly have moral arguments to justify their positions. That Zelazny is able to pull off such an epic novel is proof that he is a master of the field. (See also our review of THIS IMMORTAL by Roger Zelazny).

    A word of warning, most of the action in LORD OF LIGHT takes place in flashbacks. Yet the present story is also important and, in fact, carries out the ultimate redemption offered to all. Like many of Zelazny's books, especially these great books written in the 60s, LORD OF LIGHT almost requires multiple readings. Certainly it brings forward sufficient depth to warrant and reward two complete readings.

    Five Stars

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