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Death's Master Paperback – Sep 15 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Taleka (Sept. 15 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607620707
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607620709
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 662 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #564,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By KD on Jan. 22 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the second book I ever read by Tanith Lee, the first was the Silver Metal Lover. I stumbled across it in used book store, read it in a couple of hours and then ran out to find the rest of the series. I love Lee's fantasy novels and this series is probably her best.
The story takes place over an extended period of time and tells the tales of several different characters and how they relate to dying, death and immortality. The common thread is the Lord of Death and how humanity perceives him. There is also the side story of how he interacts with the Lord of Night and the demons. The entire series has a mythic quality, like these were the tales of some long lost culture.
The books in this series are: Night's Master, Death's Master, Delusion's Master, Delirium's Mistress, & Night's Sorceries.
You could read the first 3 books out of sequence and not have any spoilers. Don't read Delirium's Mistress until you have finished the first 3. The last book is a collection of short stories and can be read at any time, but it is assumed that you are familiar with the mythos of the flat earth.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tanith Lee addresses some disturbing questions in this book. One is, what would you do with immortality if you have it? The other, what would you do if you were invulnerable?
The androgynous Simmu, (he actually could change body forms too), the son of a lesbian queen and, for lack of a better word-- a corpse, was adapted by demons after he was left to die in his mother's tomb. He later meets Zhirem, a boy made invulnerable at the cost of his mother's beauty. The novel addresses their tortured love story in the context of the Demon Lord's mischievious plans to entertain himself, and the Death Master's fight to preserve his supremacy over humans.
Character development was excellent in the case of Simmu and Zhirem. You could read into why they ended up doing what they did, but you could never guess what they were about to do before it happens. Simmu gains immortality and becomes the King of Simmurad (City of the Immortal). Zhirem, the invulnerable, becomes th! e greatest sorcerer in the world, but was directionless until he was taken up by the Death's Master to take on and destroy Simmurad.
The other characters in the story are no less fascinating. Simmu's mother, Narasen was inflicted with a curse by a spurned sorcerer (would-be lover), but her cleverness saved her. Unfortunately, she was felled by treachery in her moment of weakness. Having struck a deal with the Death's Master, she was bound to serve him as the undead. Lylas, the witch, was the Death's Master's handmaiden. Her schemes drive the story forward. Kassafeh, Simmu's wife and the daughter of a sky elemental, was the key to Simmu's immortality. However she finds herself trapped in her immortality. Ironically, she breaks out by betraying Simmu, thus becoming the key to the destruction of Simmurad.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read this volume several times. Each time I read it, it moves me beyond what mortal life can do. Through the first half of the book, I feel light and carefree as if it strips my sorrows. After the end, I drip into the bleakest, blackest melancholy, despair unlike any other. After a period, My despondence lifts and I feel free. I am cleansed of all human pressures and woes. I highly value the tome for it's pure unadulterated emotions.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Death's Master ultimately clutched me by the heart and reeled me into spirals of emotions, reviving deep regions within which I almost doubted I had. The characters are so magnificently described that you actually able to feel at one with them, experiencing their joys and weeping when tragic irony had its will (the misfortunes of beloved Zhirek and Simmu...).
This is definately one of Tanith Lee's most brilliant ventures yet.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Death's Master Jan. 22 2002
By KD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the second book I ever read by Tanith Lee, the first was the Silver Metal Lover. I stumbled across it in used book store, read it in a couple of hours and then ran out to find the rest of the series. I love Lee's fantasy novels and this series is probably her best.
The story takes place over an extended period of time and tells the tales of several different characters and how they relate to dying, death and immortality. The common thread is the Lord of Death and how humanity perceives him. There is also the side story of how he interacts with the Lord of Night and the demons. The entire series has a mythic quality, like these were the tales of some long lost culture.
The books in this series are: Night's Master, Death's Master, Delusion's Master, Delirium's Mistress, & Night's Sorceries.
You could read the first 3 books out of sequence and not have any spoilers. Don't read Delirium's Mistress until you have finished the first 3. The last book is a collection of short stories and can be read at any time, but it is assumed that you are familiar with the mythos of the flat earth.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The Master of Death faces off with the Demon Lord July 17 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tanith Lee addresses some disturbing questions in this book. One is, what would you do with immortality if you have it? The other, what would you do if you were invulnerable?
The androgynous Simmu, (he actually could change body forms too), the son of a lesbian queen and, for lack of a better word-- a corpse, was adapted by demons after he was left to die in his mother's tomb. He later meets Zhirem, a boy made invulnerable at the cost of his mother's beauty. The novel addresses their tortured love story in the context of the Demon Lord's mischievious plans to entertain himself, and the Death Master's fight to preserve his supremacy over humans.
Character development was excellent in the case of Simmu and Zhirem. You could read into why they ended up doing what they did, but you could never guess what they were about to do before it happens. Simmu gains immortality and becomes the King of Simmurad (City of the Immortal). Zhirem, the invulnerable, becomes th! e greatest sorcerer in the world, but was directionless until he was taken up by the Death's Master to take on and destroy Simmurad.
The other characters in the story are no less fascinating. Simmu's mother, Narasen was inflicted with a curse by a spurned sorcerer (would-be lover), but her cleverness saved her. Unfortunately, she was felled by treachery in her moment of weakness. Having struck a deal with the Death's Master, she was bound to serve him as the undead. Lylas, the witch, was the Death's Master's handmaiden. Her schemes drive the story forward. Kassafeh, Simmu's wife and the daughter of a sky elemental, was the key to Simmu's immortality. However she finds herself trapped in her immortality. Ironically, she breaks out by betraying Simmu, thus becoming the key to the destruction of Simmurad.
The other questions addressed include, why do people chose to do good, to the point of becoming saints? Is it because they are afraid of being evil? What is evil? ! And so on...
The story is of course, a LOT more complicat! ed than that. After all, it is about how unusual people dealt with unusual circumstances. I totally loved it. It's a great example of Tanith Lee's work, it's brilliant and if I had more space, I will keep on babbling on about how wonderful this book is.
If you've never read Tanith Lee's stuff, this could be a great intoduction for you.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
My favorite of the Flat Earth books. April 1 2007
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I honestly could not tell you how many times I have read this book (or the entire series, in fact). While I liked all of the books in the series, Death's Master is the one that has stayed most clearly in my memory. The stories of Zhirem, Kassafeh and Simmu have stayed with me for many years.

For those of you not familiar with Tanith Lee, she writes lush prose and in this series focuses on creating a cycle of stories which interconnect. Although it would be easy to go over the top, she somehow manages to always stay on the good side of going too far. Although any of the books in the Flat Earth series can be read as stand alone novels, I believe that you will be more quickly immersed in her world if you begin with Night's Master (the first in the series).

I first read it as a pre-teen (snuck home from a garage sale). However, it is not for nothing that these books are called "adult fantasy". Caution recommended for younger readers.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This volume is unexpressibly beautiful work of somber art. Oct. 6 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Death's Master ultimately clutched me by the heart and reeled me into spirals of emotions, reviving deep regions within which I almost doubted I had. The characters are so magnificently described that you actually able to feel at one with them, experiencing their joys and weeping when tragic irony had its will (the misfortunes of beloved Zhirek and Simmu...).
This is definately one of Tanith Lee's most brilliant ventures yet.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Even better than Night's Master April 26 2012
By Kat Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
On Tanith Lee's Flat Earth, humans live in the space between apathetic gods and vain and meddlesome demons. In the first FLAT EARTH book, Night's Master, we met Azhrarn, prince of demons and ruler of the night who found and loved a human orphan. I loved that book for its exotic setting and gorgeous fairytale quality, but Death's Master, the second FLAT EARTH book, is even more enchanting. While the first book was a series of connected tales, Death's Master is a traditional novel. This time we meet a second Lord of Darkness, Uhlume, Lord Death, when he makes a deal with Narasen, a human warrior queen.

Narasen, the Leopard Queen of Merh, doesn't like men. When she rebuffs a powerful magician, he curses her, causing plague, famine and barrenness to settle in Merh. An oracle announces that the land will be healed when Narasen, who is barren, bears a child. After the people of Merh have sent all the men they can muster to Narasen, she seeks escape by asking the witch Lylas, Death's Handmaiden, to arrange a deal with Death.

Uhlume, the Lord of Death, gives Narasen a child, but the price she must pay is heavy: after giving birth, she must remain under the Earth with Uhlume for 1000 years. The rest of the story follows Simmu, Narasen's hermaphrodite child; his friend Zhirem, whose mother also made a deal with Death; Lylas, who assigns nine virgins to guard the waters of immortality; the demon Azhrarn, who can't help but meddle in human affairs; and other characters that've unfortunately come to the attention of demons.

It's hard to truly like any of these characters, which, I suspect, is the main reason that the FLAT EARTH books are not universally loved. Tanith Lee's characters are all well-developed, but they don't give back. They're not interested in whether you like them, so you're not likely to find yourself really caring what happens to any of them. Tanith Lee isn't offering us friends. Instead, she offers a vision of a world that's completely foreign, yet peopled by real humans who we can relate to, whether we like them or not. Lee uses this unfamiliar world to explore familiar human nature in a way that isn't possible outside a fantasy setting.

One theme in Death's Master is the idea that when life becomes difficult, we often preserve sanity by knowingly casting illusions. When Narasen goes with Death to the underworld, she sees all the humans who've made similar deals with Death and must live in his kingdom for 1000 years. The place is horrible, but they've constructed illusions to make it bearable. When Narasen scorns these weak-minded people, Death explains that they survive by creating their own reality:

"The soul is a magician. Only living flesh hampers it... This land is a blank parchment where anyone may write what they wish."

Another theme is the boredom that comes with immortality on Earth. When the well of immortality is discovered and some humans drink from it, their lives eventually become pointless and dull. Lee suggests that the gods knew that the constant threat of pain and death is what gives life its meaning and joy:

"Men could not have too much. Ecstasy and vulnerability belonged in the same dish. The fear the cup would be snatched away was what gave the wine its savor and as Zhirem's cup was sure, so was his joylessness... to die is a fear, but to live is a fear, also."

These ideas are so beautifully examined in Death's Master, but Tanith Lee's writing isn't unrelievedly heavy. In fact, I think she's one of the funniest writers I know and even this dark tale has plenty of humor. Tanith Lee's imagination and writing style are a fantasy lover's dream. If you haven't read Tanith Lee, you're missing one of our age's best fantasists. If you're not into the twisted dark fairytales found in FLAT EARTH, you should at least try some of her short fiction, which is easily found in the best anthologies.

I listened to Susan Duerden narrate the audio version which was just released by Audible Frontiers. Her lush voice is gorgeous and I think she has the sexiest male voice I've ever heard by female or male narrator. The sing-song quality I mentioned in my review of Night's Master was less noticeable this time. If you're an audio reader, don't miss this. Death's Master, originally published in 1979, won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1980.

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