Study Guide

Lord of Light Warfare

By Roger Zelazny


The wearers of the saffron robe prayed, however, that He of the Sword, Manjusri, should come again among them. The Boddhisatva is said to have heard… (1.Intro)

Our first introduction to Sam is by his name Manjusri, He of the Sword. Although he's known by many other names, we think it's telling that this is the first one we're given.

"To struggle against the dreamers who dream ugliness, be they men or gods, cannot but be the will of the Nameless. […]; but this suffering is productive of a higher end in the light of the eternal values of which the sages so often speak." (1.419)

The novel has a lot of actual war in it, but it also spends a fair amount of time on more metaphorical types of war, too. Here, we get a twofer: Sam wants the people to struggle against "the dreamers who dream ugliness," meaning fight the gods, but also the social ugliness produced by the gods' dreams.

"Sins I have yet to commit, but which are being written in my mind as I consider them now."

"You plan to oppose the gods?"

"Yes." (2.187-189)

The themes of religion and war come together. To oppose the gods is to sin, and to sin is to war against the gods. To war against the gods… we'll stop here. You take the point.

"Good luck. No gods be with you!" (2.364)

This is Sam's battle cry when going into war. It's effective at getting his point across, right?

"I realize that your doctrine is a thing which could have been remembered by any among the First. You chose to resurrect it, pretending to be its originator. You decided to spread it, in hopes of raising an opposition to the religion by which the true gods rule." (3.426)

Interesting how he says that any among the First could have done what Sam has and resurrected a religion to oppose Heaven. But then why are Sam and Nirriti the only ones to do so?

He thought of [the Celestial City's] splendor and its color, in contrast to that of the rest of the world, and he wept as he raged, for he knew that he could never feel either wholly right or wholly wrong in opposing it. (4.346)

Here, we see Sam's internal conflict over his external one. On the one hand, he can't defeat the gods without destroying the Celestial City, but on the other hand, to destroy a thing of beauty is still to destroy a thing of beauty. As is often the case of life, he can't have it both ways. Bummer.

[…] the smell of the blood driving them both into a great frenzy; purring, as the cool twilight came over her, bringing with it the moons, like the changing crescents of her eyes, golden and silver and dun. She sat upon the rock, licking her paws and wondering what it was she had hunted. (5.20)

Kali has become so obsessed with war that she hunts without even knowing what she hunts. She simply desires the kill.

"You are a fool to speak of last great battles, Sam, for the last great battle is always the next one." (5.121)

So sad, but so true at the same time. The last battle only remains so until the next one… and the one after that… and the one after that. Puts a damper on your spirit (well, unless you're Kali).

Brahma decided it was time to move against Accelerationism.

A war party was raised in Heaven, and the Temples of cities adjacent to Keenset sent out the call to the faithful to be ready for a holy war. (6.270-271)

For Kali, this war is a holy war, but for Sam, it's a social war. Can they both be right? If not, guess they could also duke it out to settle things, seeing as they're going to do that anyway.

"I think Ganesha wanted someone available as an enemy of Heaven, should the need for one ever arise in a hurry." (7.189)

This quote suggests that as long as people have an enemy other than Heaven, they won't think of Heaven as their enemy. Very clever, Ganesha., very clever indeed.