[download pdf] The Changing LandAuthor Roger Zelazny – Bilb-weil.de

This book has the grandest theme amp; the most strangelynamed demon The name is MelbriniononsadsazzersteldregandishfeltseliorZelazny includes a touching love story between Queen Semirama amp; a tentacled semieldergod who lives in a cesspit below Castle Timeless The Queen is hard to like since she's indifferent to prisoners chained in the dungeon amp; only talks to her slave when she has to work She'd been raised from the dust by the evil sorcerer Jelerak in order to communicate with the ancient denizen of the cesspit, a source of tremendous occult power even tho he resembles a gigantic, smelly octopus The theme of The Changing Land is the death amp; rebirth of the universe amp; the meddling of the Elder Gods in human, elvish amp; demonic affairs Some of the characters, such as Dilvish the Damned amp; his hellhorse, Black, spring fullyformed onto the pages They were actually born in earlier short stories, collected in Dilvish, the Damned It might be easier to read Dilvish, the Damned before diving into The Changing Land because the latter fantasy has many characters There are gods, demigods, semidemigods, black amp; white magicians, heroes, elves, mechanical horses, demons amp; at least one Queen A couple of them change bodies at least once, which doesn't make it any easier Castle Timeless is the center of the action, the goal of every powerhungry sorcerer who has a staff to wave at its numerous demons Its corridors are a constantly changing maze The land surrounding it is a mad god's dream of exploding volcanoes of mud, hedged with flame, alive with winged monkeys Zelazny had completed his th Amber novel by the time he wrote The Changing Land There's an Amberish glow to the mutating landscape amp; castle of this book Once you have the characters straight, it's a wonderful read No other author has the chutzpah to take readers thru the Death of the universe amp; back out again thru the next Big BangEA Lovitt edited


10 thoughts on “The Changing Land

  1. Evgeny Evgeny says:

    The book picks up practically where the first one left, but its structure is quite different. While the first one consists of the interconnected short stories this one is a novel.

    Dilvish - who still wants to have his revenge on Jelerak - travels to one of the remaining stronghold of the latter - Castle Timeless. This place happens to be a home of a demi-god named Tualua whom Jelerak used as a source of his vast magic power. Tualua went crazy (normal seasonal change for him, see Zoidberg as an example)
    Zoidberg
    and now the land around the caste constantly changes from lava to tundra, from grassy plains to high mountains, and so on - thus the Changing Land. Everybody and their brother with even the small spark of magic ability decided it is a good time to wrestle the control of Tualua from Jelerak, so the crowd of people rushing across the changing land practically trampled Dilvish. Fun ensures.

    I would really like to mention a very humorous part of the book. We all know the basic of demon summoning, right? Draw a pentagram, perform some ritual, call the demon's name; he appears ready to do whatever the caller wishes. Sounds simple?
    pentagram
    The only danger is to make sure the pronunciation of the name is correct. The name of one of the demons in the book was Melbriniononsadsazzersteldregandishfeltselior. How often do you think he gets summoned?

    Another curious notable thing: there are places where you can see some common themes with author's excellent Amber series, but this novel is closer to classic sword and sorcery style. I always say Zelazny's imagination ran wild in his writings and this time is no exception. He really brings the mysterious castle and bizarre lands around it to life. The rating is 4 very solid stars.


  2. Dan Schwent Dan Schwent says:

    A society of wizards monitors Castle Timeless, the stronghold of the missing wizard Jelerak, and home to a mad Elder God named Tualua. Wizards from within and without plot to take the castle and the powers of the imprisoned god for their own, until Dilvish arrives with vengeance on his mind...

    The Changing Land is a good quick read. Bascially, it's Roger Zelazny telling a pulp swords and sorcery sort of tale with some Lovecraftian elements thrown in. Dilvish and his steel horse Black are an interesting, if underdeveloped, pair. I found Jelerak and the relationship between Semirama and Tualua to be the most interesting parts of the book, although the imprisoned wizards definitely had their moments.

    The ever-changing landscape outside Castle Timeless reminded me both of the Amber series and Michael Moorcock's depiction of Limbo in his Eternal Champion saga. The plot, while not overly original, has enough twists to keep it interesting, as well as an ending that I didn't see coming.

    The Changing Land is well worth a read but I wouldn't rank it among Zelazny's best works. 3.5 out of 5.


  3. Jim Jim says:

    Dilvish the Damned is an interesting character. While basically a good guy, he has spent serious time in Hell & consorts with demons, Black, his metal steed, in particular. He's on a quest to find the man who put him in Hell with the express purpose of killing him, no matter what. Dilvish's quest is complicated by his previous efforts which weakened his tormentor, the most powerful sorcerer of the day. Others are eager to gain the power they think may be abandoned & the location itself is hampering everyone's efforts.

    It's not an original plot, but the dressings are typically Zelazny. He has a skewed view of such things & it's a joy to have him share his vision, which he does very well. Fast paced with lots of action, bewildering twists & a surprise ending. The impression of a large, complicated world & hints at a long history all give a lot more depth to this than is at first apparent.


  4. Andrew Andrew says:

    I must have read this a dozen times when I was a kid. It is Zelazny at his most commercial -- that is, broadly appealing. But still inimitably Zelazny, of course.

    The Changing Land is several leagues of territory beset by waves of transformation. Anything can happen there, at a moment's notice: volcanoes, acid pits, monsters sprouting from the ground, toxic magical winds. Pretty much everything that happens can kill you. Sorcerers from all over the world are trying to cross to the Castle at the center, on the theory that there's gotta be *something* good there. (If nothing else, an off-switch.)

    Into this mess comes Dilvish, who you may remember from some short stories. He's still hunting his arch-enemy Jelerak. (The Castle in the Changing Land used to be Jelerak's castle.) All Dilvish has to do is cross miles of deathtrap territory, contend with any of Jelerak's servants who remain plus every other sorcerer as lucky as he is, and find the evil wizard. Dilvish is equipped with an iron horse and Boots of Elvenkind (Dungeon Master's Guide, p139). The horse may be the smarter of the two.

    I should try to explain what it was about Zelazny, back in those early days of genre fantasy. His characters are... modern without being contemporary. The sorcerers in this book don't know what a grandfather clock is (the Castle is full of anachronisms), but they complain about office politics and being dragged out of bed when you crystal-ball them in the middle of the night. They have girlfriends. (Sometimes the girlfriends are smarter than they are, too.)

    (Yes, there are girl sorcerers too. That's why the Brotherhood of Sorcerers is now officially called the Society, and don't you get it wrong, or a bunch of sorceresses, enchantresses, and wizardresses are going to land on your ass. The question is assumed to be settled. I said it was modern, but modern 80s, ok?)

    There's also a better hacking scene than cyberpunk *ever* managed in that *entire* decade. Spell-hacking. It is absolutely recognizable to any programmer-type person. (This book came out the same year as Vinge's True Names. SF about computers always dates itself by trying to be current with the future, but the spell-hacking is a *metaphor* and therefore timeless. It's genius. Someone needs to write a damn monograph about it.)

    The story manages to be epic in scope while being homey and comfortable. Everyone is parading around in a castle older than time -- I didn't say Jelerak was the *first* owner -- but it's not about grand battles and charges of glory. More like a comic melodrama, with escapes and schemes and sneaking about. The (self-called) light wizards and dark wizards would rather talk practicalities, and even the villains manage to not do anything very horrible on-screen. Much.

    The scenery is as wildly imaginative as fantasy has ever seen. Zelazny can just riff ideas forever. You may be used to it from Amber's shadowride scenes, but the Changing Land doesn't go by in the rear-view mirror. The characters are stuck in it and have to *deal* with it, demon or spell or volcano or rain of singing frogs, whatever it is.

    And in all this genre-trope mummery, Zelazny still feels free to occasionally turn loose his narrative voice, unconstrainable and hilarious as starlings bursting up into the sky.

    I don't think I can overstate how much of an influence this book has had on me. Oh, there are plenty of Zelanzy books, and plenty of magical-infinite-house books too, and I took something from all of this. This may have been my first of each, though.


  5. James Proctor James Proctor says:

    I've been won over by Zelazny and actively seek him out in the paperback stacks. Famed primarily for his genre work, it is only recently that I gave him a fresh go, having dabbled in the past to no good end; reluctant reader of magical adventures that I am, rare indeed is the tale or author who wins my admiration. Roger Zelazny is of this breed.

    The Changing Land is exemplary of what I enjoy in Zelazny. How he accomplishes his narrative is just as compelling as the tale itself, and as someone who over the last few years has come to count one quality in equal measure to the other (process/execution), his genre work is especially compelling. There is a lot of indirect narrative going on. That is, he flies with the notion that stories come from a shared landscape and freely refers to other books/scriptures without either plagiarizing them or tacitly acknowledging them.

    Case in point: The Changing Land's main stage is a funky, scary edifice called Castle Timeless. Zelazny makes out of it an intriguing backdrop for the action, entirely on the merits of the ideas he plays out against it, presented in solid, no-fuss prose. However, it doesn't take much to recognize the place as somewhere we've been before, as if we had read about it elsewhere, in another book... like William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland, perhaps?

    No 'perhaps' about it: Castle Timeless is the selfsame House of Hodgson's seminal horror novel. Having one of the central characters named 'Hodgson' is sort of a dead giveaway, as if the author is winking really hard at you -he wants you to get a charge out of it as much as he does!

    While telling a complete tale having nothing whatsoever to do with Hodgson's novel, Zelazny manages to also tell us where/what the House was doing before showing up there. As I say, this is entirely beside the point of Zelazny's novel, but is there, resonating like mad, for those with eyes to see and hearts to sing.

    Okay, maybe my heart wasn't singing. I did like the book, though, and look forward to reading more by this daft Zelazny fellow.


  6. Mike Mike says:

    I'm a huge Zelazny fan, and have most of his books, apart from a few of the very obscure ones. This is neither one of my favourites nor one of his best-known ones, but I have read it several times. The most recent re-read was because someone critiquing one of my short stories was reminded of it, and suggested I could read it for inspiration.

    Reading it with a critical eye, I remember why it's one of the lesser Zelaznys. A lot of the description is blow-by-blow action, which goes on rather too long. The frequent bizarre transformations are deliberately meaningless, manifestations of a mad god. The overall feel is leaning towards Jack Vance, in terms of an abundance of characters with no redeeming features, and that's far from my favourite part of sword-and-sorcery. The main character's motivation is revenge, and even though he takes the time to rescue some people - there are some decent characters in the book, and he is arguably one - he has a lot of flaws and darkness in his makeup too.

    Unusually for the time and for Zelazny, this book contains a couple of gay characters, though both of them die without first receiving any character development to speak of. There are two women, one an innocent who functions mainly as a damsel in distress (despite being, on the face of it, a competent adventurer), and one being an oversexed, underdressed, and rather cruel enchantress. I wish I could say that this was unusual for Zelazny, but it's not.

    Zelazny's strength was always in exuberant and original worldbuilding, and that's certainly on display here, though not without a few familiar tropes from the sorcery part of sword-and-sorcery. A flawed book, far from his best, but not without its enjoyable features.


  7. Tom Quinn Tom Quinn says:

    As fine a swords-and-sorcery adventure as you're likely to find, but I like Dilvish better in short stories than a novel. The more time given to exposition, the less the allure of a rich but hidden backstory. And although the main story starts out extremely cool, playing off a lot of the better tropes of magical fantasy fiction, the cast of characters gets pretty large and takes screen time away from our hero. Then there is a noticeable slump in energy in the middle, things get sort of hodgepodge without much coherence to what's come before, Zelazny tries to inject a modern tone and some jokes that don't gibe, and the whole conclusion rushes into a bit of a chaotic mess.

    3 stars out of 5. Plenty entertaining, but largely style over substance.


  8. Stuart Langridge Stuart Langridge says:

    Holds up well, much as Dilvish the Damned does. You'd hardly know this book is older than I am.


  9. Daryl Daryl says:

    Continuing my reading of the Zelazny canon. My Del Ray paperback copy lists this as a first edition, and the back cover proclaims it first book publication. So I must have had this book since around the time it came out in 1981, though I'd never read it before. This is a bit of an odd creature as Zelazny had written a number of short stories featuring the character of Dilvish. Those stories were later collected in the book Dilvish the Damned, but this novel was published first. I wondered if I should read the short stories first, but decided to stick with the publication order I've been following. And while certain references to characters and events made me wonder about those stories, if I'd not known anything, this book easily stands on its own as a novel complete unto itself. The character of Dilvish doesn't even appear until a good way into the novel. This book made me realize that starting a Zelazny novel and not knowing anything about it, the reader could expect just about anything. This is straight-up heroic, epic fantasy with numerous black and white magicians (mostly working together), demons from Hell (apparently), and an elder god (who, within the novel, devolves into madness). A lot of very cool fantasy concepts pop up that I would love to steal and adapt for a D&D setting. The Timeless Castle sits in the middle of a land that is constantly shifting and changing (hence the title), and a variety of magic types make their way there in order to obtain the power at the center of things. Dilvish, on the other hand, just wants to kill the castle's lord as a matter of revenge. This is a great fantasy story that I very much enjoyed for what it was. And I think it's the first Zelazny book where none of the characters smoke.


  10. Michael Channing Michael Channing says:

    This book has great promise. The setting is intriguing, the main character is cool and interesting, the action is well paced. It vaults high but lands badly, twists its ankle, and limps away embarrassed.
    The castle and surrounding lands where the story takes place is beset by random magics that wash over the place in waves, altering the landscape, summoning monsters, paralyzing or entrapping trespassers, even altering the flow of time itself. Those brave or foolish enough to attempt entry to the castle are there for the power of Tualua, a tentacled being of great magic and unpredictable rage. Tualua is trapped within the castle, and its captors and keepers are often in danger themselves of falling prey to the ancient entity’s wrath. One woman, a once-dead and still beautiful priestess, has earned Tualua’s affection, and she has her own plans to block out the castle’s master and harness the power within for herself. Jailed in the castle’s dungeon are a group of wizards also after the power to use for good or bad, depending on what color cloak they wear. Then there’s Dilvish, the main character who rides through the changing land on a black, metallic horse. He wants none of the castle’s power or treasure. He only seeks revenge against the castle’s master for deeds committed years ago in a book that this one must be the sequel to.
    I have no problem with the half-revealed history of Dilvish belonging to another book I will probably never be able to track down (if it exists). It deepens his character, veils him in mystery. He is, by far, the best character. The rest are entirely defined by their roles in the plot. The female Dilvish meets outside the castle is there to be a damsel. The wizards inside are there to provide a plot point and to explain the situation to Dilvish. The bad guys are bad. The once-dead sorceress provides sex and further exposition.
    The flaws of characterization would be forgivable if the story worked. And at first it seems like it will. The one who captured Tualua is, himself, locked out and has to use subterfuge to regain his position. Factions form within the castle. Wizards without lend their powers to help breach the walls. Wizards within find ways to defend themselves from the demons that enslave and punish them. Dilvish is captured, makes a deal. His horse has secrets of its own. But then…
    The whole thing is solved by a series of deus ex machinas, one quite literal. A few characters die, but we don’t care. The damsel does nothing. A pact between two characters is dissolved, which might be meaningful if we had been aware of it before that exact moment. The conflict fixes itself, and the players all turn to each other and say, Boy, that was a thing. Zelazny squanders all the potential of this amazing setting.
    I was going to say the book was still a fun read, but the act of writing this review has made me rethink that assessment. This book was a disappointment. That's a shame, because I loved the Amber novels. A Night in the Lonesome October, Zelazny's final novel, was great fun. So were several other Zelazny books I've read. The man knew how to craft a tale, but this one feels like he got bored and ended it as quickly as possible. You might find yourself doing the same.