Go to Homepage   Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold: Lord Demon

 

Avon Eos Books (Hardcover), ISBN 0-380-97333-2
The second of two novels left unfinished at Roger Zelazny's death, Lord Demon evokes images of Zelazny's famous Amber Chronicles even as it tips its red-feathered cap to Ernest Bramah's tales of Kai Lung. 

Kai Wren, the Lord Demon who once slew a god, finds his own thousand-year peace shattered by the death of his human companion. Seeking revenge -- or at least a good reason for his friend's death -- Kai stumbles into a plot to incite the gods and demons to war. 

Unfortunately, Kai trusts the wrong demons in his quest for the truth. Soon the Lord Demon finds himself transformed into a human man, trapped in an insane asylum with only a frail mortal sorcerer and the sorcerer's daughter to aid him. The parallels between his situation and that of Corwin in the opening pages of Nine Princes in Amber provide Kai scant comfort. Kai Wren lacks the residual magic and the ruthless intelligence of his Amber cousin and almost anagram. 

But to a certain extent, that operates in Kai's favor. He is not without allies on earth or in the magical planes that surround it. But can Kai distinguish his allies from his enemies, and will they be enough? 

Lord Demon moves smartly through its paces. Zelazny and Jane Lindskold wisely mitigate the demons' mannered, Orientalist way of speaking with the more idiomatic language of the sorcerer's daughter and other American and European characters. Lindskold also deserves generous praise for the smoothness of the finished book. It's almost impossible for a Zelazny reader and fan to distinguish where his work ends and Lindskold's begins. 

However, Lindskold preserves the master's flaws as well as his virtues. Kai Wren talks a lot about human love and ultimately decides he's guilty of the crime. But Kai's love for the women and men, demons and humans in his life pales before his real passion: the magical worlds accessible only to his demon nature. Shades of Corwin and Amber. 

Too many shades of Corwin and Amber. The politics and schemes, plots and counterplots read very much like an American vision of a Chinese Amber. And much as I enjoyed Kai's excursions into the Hanger Plane and its mystical co-efficient, the Drawer of Missing Socks, I never determined if I was a party to the jest -- or the butt of the joke. 

Jean Marie Ward

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