by Roger Zelazny
When reading, you can sometimes smell the pungent odour of a cliffhanger coming a mile away. With Lord of Light, I caught a tinge of this as I progressed without approaching anything that resembled where we were in the introduction. The more I read, the more nervous I grew, probably coming to a head when I had twenty-odd pages to go: Major characters were being introduced and an epic battle was heavily hinted at. “Fortunately,” this worry was largely unfounded; rather than leaving me hanging, everything was wrapped up rather abruptly, including the aforementioned battle.
I struggle to properly express my feelings toward this jarring ending that was an ending, nonetheless. You see, with Lord of Light, Zelazny took a very simple idea of an uprising against a corrupt patriarchy and made it exceptional. He created an intriguing world, borrowing mainly from Eastern religions and deftly blurring the lines between supernatural and technology. And then there’s the writing: Zelazny doesn’t rush through his plot, peppering the action with intriguing speeches and conversations, resulting in strong characters and conflict that feels significant. However, the clear skill the author displays is the likely reason the negatives feel so unsatisfying: A truly epic battle is followed by the rush to the ending, glossing over another one consisting of arguably more consequential actions; well-written dialogue is followed by a conversation that I needed to re-read to simply understand who is speaking; and then a profound passage is followed by a heavy-handed one. (Though, I will accept that what one finds pretentious, others find brilliant, and vice versa.)
Don’t let me scare you off, however. As bad as the negatives may sound, I greatly enjoyed Lord of Light throughout our brief time together. When all of its pieces come together, it consists of competent writing, intriguing ideas, and very strong characterization, especially where the main characters are concerned.