cover image Lord Demon

Lord Demon

Jane Lindskold, Roger Zelazny. Eos, $23 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97333-0

Zelazny left two novel manuscripts unfinished when he died in 1995. One was Donnerjack, which Lindskold (Brother to Dragons, etc.) completed for 1998 publication. This is the second. Zelazny is best known for characters who, in between waging interdimensional battles and building planets, still have time to be very human. Lord Demon, also called Kai Wren, and sometimes Godslayer, follows that familiar model. Once the greatest of his kind, Kai, along with the other demons, was banished from their homeland 5000 years ago by the gods. The demons found a way to Earth, specifically China, where they rebuilt their lives. For the last few millennia, Kai has withdrawn from demon society, focused on constructing splendid magical bottles infused with his chi. Now his human servant and best friend has been murdered. Assuming the crime is merely one born of an old grudge, Kai doesn't take it too seriously. That is, until he's betrayed and stripped of his ability to manipulate chi energy--reducing him to the merely human in a new war among demonkind. Fighting back means dangerous alliances and sticking his neck out as he hasn't done for thousands of years. Most dangerous of all, however, is the possibility that Kai is just a pawn in a plot that passed him by years ago. Though the novel is slow to get moving, once the fight is on, it doesn't let up. The narrative weaves a fine line between tragedy and humor, sometimes slapstick, as Kai gathers a ragtag band of Chinese sorcerers and shape changers and Pekinese dogs. Lindskold effectively captures the voices of Zelazny's wise-cracking characters and continues the expert blending of magical and mundane that makes his work so enjoyable. This novel is fine Zelazny, and a fine tribute. (Aug.)