Night's Master is the first book of the stunning arabesque high-fantasy series Tales from the Flat Earth, which, in the manner of The One Thousand and One Nights, portrays an ancient world in mythic grandeur via connected tales.
Long ago when the Earth was flat, beautiful, indifferent Gods lived in the airy Upperearth realm above; curious, passionate demons lived in the exotic Underearth realm below; and mortals were relegated to exist in the middle. Azhrarn, Lord of the Demons and the Darkness, was the one who ruled the night, and many mortal lives were changed because of his cruel whimsy. And yet, Azhrarn held inside his demon heart a profound mystery which would change the very fabric of the Flat Earth forever.
Come within this ancient world of brilliant darkness and beauty, of glittering palaces and wondrous elegant beings, of cruel passions and undying love. Discover the exotic wonder that is the Flat Earth.
©1978 Tanith Lee (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Kat at FanLit
Long ago, the earth was flat. Humans lived on its surface while the benevolent gods who created them lived in the heavens. Regretting that they had made man, the gods ignored their creation and held themselves aloof while the sorcerous demons that lived in the glowing gem-encrusted city under the earth were permitted to use humans as they wished. Being at the whim of cruel and impulsive demons made these times terrifying for humans. Eventually hate and evil began to prevail, and earth was near death, but the gods showed no inclination to save humanity. Azhrarn, Prince of Demons and Night’s Master, was the proudest and most powerful demon of all. When he discovered a beautiful orphaned human child and brought him to live in the underworld, the destiny of the earth was changed forever.
Tanith Lee’s Night’s Master, the first of her FLAT EARTH series, is a collection of connected stories set in Lee’s unique world. The first story recounts Azhrarn’s discovery and love for the human child he finds. Each of the following tales is related, perhaps by a character, an object, or a theme. Together, the stories weave a vast dark mythology covering thousands of years. With vivid imagery and elegant prose, they show demons meddling in human affairs, humbling men who exalt themselves, and using magic to harness the powers of music, love, and joy as well as grief, hate, and death.
Night’s Master is dark, yet richly luxuriant and full of passion. The writing is gorgeous. There’s not much more that a lover of excellent fantasy could ask for, though some readers may wish for a more obvious hero to love. You won’t find one here. Instead, you’ll feel the decline of civilization and the degeneration into hopelessness as a capricious demon wields magic against powerless men. But because the demons admire beauty, there’s also a gothic splendor that permeates the novel. In many ways the setting and characters of FLAT EARTH are reminiscent of Jack Vance’s DYING EARTH stories, which isn’t surprising considering that Vance was one of Tanith Lee’s major influences.
Night’s Master has just been produced in audio by Audible Frontiers. The narrator, Susan Duerden, did a great job with the dialogue — she has a lovely resonant voice which is a good fit for this dark fairytale. Unfortunately, her reading occasionally takes on a noticeable sing-song quality during the narrative. I hope this will not be as conspicuous in the second FLAT EARTH novel, Death’s Master.
I had enjoyed Tanith Lee's masterful twisted mythologies when I read them in the past, but Susan Duerden's voices really brought the characters to life. I particularly liked the lesser demons, and appreciated her ability to make clear which character was speaking.
I've always loved this book. I mean, it's written like a series of short fables that weave together perfectly. It's meant to leave you longing and curious, because that's what fables do. Anyone expecting this story to outline every single detail like a badly written four book series made famous by desperate mothers is going to be disappointed.
This is a poet's tale, a lover's story. It's meant for dreamers and people that read between the lines and enjoy the spaces more.
My favorite is Zorayas, by far. Her story is one of the most troubling and intriguing. She's made powerful by image and malice, yet it was her birthright. But really every single character in this is lovable and enjoyable.
She's a good reader. I've listened to lots of audio books and come across many awful readers. And while she does make you slightly sleepy, the story should be enough to enchant you into staying awake. I listen to it right after I wake up, and have had no problems staying aware.
It's a fable, it's a myth, it's a tale. It's also a very unique gem.
I don't have eternity to write my praise for this book. Otherwise, I would gladly spend it. But I think Tanith Lee does that herself.
Tanith Lee is to fantasy what Siouxsie Sioux is to punk. A darker beauty.
My first experience of Tanith Lee was finding a copy of Red As Blood back in the early 80's at Forbidden Planet in NYC. I remember sitting on the floor and scouring the shelves for a special book...money was tight and I wanted to pick just the right book and that was it! It began a life long love of this amazing writer...
Tanith's work is dark and sensual. It has a grace and beauty that is purely imaginative. Her writing is like poetry...strong on imagery and ideas. She creates moods and dreams.
I was happy to revisit this world and I thought Susan Duerden's narration was good for this particular series, but I understand why others didn't quite get it - I think they are more familiar and comfortable with modern narration, but this it more like classical myth story telling, so I do believe strongly she is what this piece requires for the proper tone. This series has the feel of old myths and legends and the point of view from the darker side has a fascinating appeal.
Tanith Lee's books are hard to find in the USA, so I hope this helps bring her to a wider audience...she writes so beautifully.
Really looking forward to the rest of the series and anything else by her that Audible adds in the future.
So glad to have this classic available in this media. Tanith Lee is a master at painting vast landscapes with carefully selected words. A must read for any dark fantasy enthusiast.
I'm a fan of Tanith Lee's works. However, this narrator does not so much bring the story to life as she puts the listener to sleep. Each sentence has the same rhythm over and over and over and over and over and over and over......You get the point.
I gave the story three stars- based on Lee's other works, but I have no idea whether it was good or bad.
This book's narrator tends to sap the story of its power with her repetitive, very contrived sounding style of performance. She reads each sentence in the exact same sequence of intonation, over and over again. If I was musical I could literally chart the notes for you - the same 5 or 6, again and again, sentence after sentence. Very tiring to listen to. I suppose some may find this sing-song and comforting, or compelling in some way; but for me, it just blankets the book's rich words with a monochrome, monotonous feel.
I've read this book twice before on paper, and it's one of Tanith Lee's best. I highly recommend the entire Flat Earth series from her. Definitely read it in actual book form if you can, though, to better hear the varied voices of each character: the audiobook performance may drown these out for you.
I think the narrator did as well as anyone Audible could find, though perhaps this particular story is better enjoyed as more of a half-formed idea taking shape inside the reader's head. Putting a knowing voice to it seems to Harden the smoke a little, like trying to enjoy a dancing flame in the brightening sunlight. I listened to it and enjoyed it very much because I have difficulties with reading, but I think ultimately this story is not well suited to narration.
I have never been inside the box; why in the world would I start now? Learning about the everything is my specialty!
Intriguing, Unique, Clever
I think there are quite a few. I find the behavior of the characters so unexpected, it completely captures my attention.
I love all of Susan's performances. I chose to listen to this series because of her performances in other books. Her voice can go from sweet, innocent, sultry, sexy, gruff masculine to downright mean.
I didn't necessarily have an extreme reaction to this book; however, I did look forward to the next one. And I thought a lot about this world the author created and how much fun it was to visit.
Tanith Lee is so very talented and her choice of reader for her books makes the series a perfect combination. This would be so much fun to listen to with a group of friends on a cold night by the fire with hot apple cider.
A different narrator.
Yes, providing it was a different narrator. I read Law of the Wolf Tower years ago and loved it, but unfortunately I can't find any more of that series in the Audible library.
ANYONE! The tone of Susan's voice is so nervous, minor, and anticipatory, and made me feel constantly on-edge, when I would have preferred it to be more relaxed and conversational. I am really disappointed that I couldn't get past the narration to listen to the story, and no offence to Susan, but I think the choice of her as the narrator did no favours to Tanith in selling the Audible version of the book.
"This is almost impossible to get hold of as a book"
I read the second book in the series when I was 17 and became obcessed with getting hold of the rest of them. Until I found them on Audible 12 years later I had no luck!
But this book is a treat if you like dark adult fantasy. The themes are put forward with a sensitive abivulance to the subject of morality and the sensuality of the writing is brought out more than I had thought possible by Susan Deurden's reading of it. The audiobook is hypnotic and drops you into a fully realised fantasy world inhabited by apathetic gods, alien demons and the mortals who are their pawns.
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