Top critical review
Not to be contrary, but...
on February 15, 2004
This book didn't grab me as much as I had expected. The description I got was of a thought-provoking look at religion from the perspective of technology; gods being simply highly advanced members of the race they subjugated and kept in the dark. But it isn't so. Zelazny's gods are complex, and put a very human spin on mythology, but he doesn't confine them to technology and mortality. Magic abounds, much is left unexplained, and he invokes the mysticism of actual mythology.
You may say there's nothing wrong with that approach. But the problem is, if I want mythology, I read real mythology. Any of the great traditions of myth - Greek, Norse, Hindu, Celt, Buddhist, etc. have a depth and subtle beauty that benefits from hundreds of years of retelling and refining, something one author can't match, particularly when trying to meld it with sci-fi.
There are good elements. Siddartha, as the rebel of the old Hindu pantheon, is a perfect confidence man. Other gods (Kali, and particularly Nirriti the Black) have character, but Zelazny makes many disposable, and utterly omits noteworthy mortals, a sin for any book of myth.
The best that I can say is that this book makes me want to review Hindu and Buddhist myth in the future. But what I expected from the reviews was a scathing interpretation of old religion as power plays and intrigue. If you are looking, as I was, for "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!", look elsewhere.