Lord of Light
Roger Zelazny, 1967
Hugo Winner - 1968
Premise: Sam, also known as Mahasamatman, also called Buddha, among other things, plans a war on Heaven. The people are not allowed technology, and those who speak against the gods often do not come out of the reincarnation machines. Sam will have to use all the allies at his disposal if he hopes to break the rule of the gods. In case you haven't guessed yet, this is not Earth.
I liked Lord of Light, although not quite as much as I liked This Immortal. The books have a lot in common, with quasi-immortals, mythic themes, and purposeful anachronisms. The most interesting part of this one was trying to piece together what the people calling themselves gods actually are. Of course, we don't get a clear answer, but it's interesting all the same. Sam's quest, and the personal stories of those who help him, were intriguing, but it wasn't quite as satisfying for me as the earlier book.
Many characters have multiple names, either because they are emphasizing godly attributes, hiding from the gods, or just accumulating identities. This mostly works - it certainly keeps the theme of identity present - but occasionally I became mixed up, and some sections confused me until I backtracked to double check who everyone was.
Some aspects of the ending felt rushed and disjointed, in contrast with the very strong beginning. However, I kept having to put the book down because of life interrupting, so that might explain my experience.
I would tell you more about it, but I think the pleasure of discovery is the meat of this book. I wouldn't even read the back, if I were you. I enjoyed Lord of Light, particularly the beginning, as more and more of the world was revealed. I will add, though, that in the middle of reading this book I went to a museum, and looking at Hindu and Buddhist statues was very surreal because I had these characters on my mind.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book