Four Lords of the Diamond

Jack L. CFour Lords of the Diamondhalker was a pretty well-known author, so I’ve found it surprising that very few of the writers I’ve interacted with are familiar with his Four Lords of the Diamond series. In all honesty, when I picked up the first book I wasn’t much of a science fiction fan. I gravitated more to fantasy and didn’t usually have much to do with stories involving science and technology. What truly intrigued me in Chalker’s work was the psychology aspect.  There aren’t many books I remember from over twenty years ago, but these have stuck with me. Here’s why:

The premise of the story centers around a government agent, an assassin, who has his mind replicated. Four convicts destined for four separate prison planets are mind-wiped to be replaced with the agent’s replications. Each of them has an assignment to assassinate some prominent public figure for the cause of the  intergalactic government. As they carry out their assignments, their minds are connected to the original agent. He watches as their new genetic make-up, along with their various environments, changes them. In the process, it changes him.  This study of genetics and environment’s influence on behavior, as  portrayed through this one man, fascinated me.

After all these years, I can’t tell you what they did on each planet, only that each story caused me to look deep within myself. I analyzed the influences in my life and carefully considered my goals. I identified some of the hurdles in my way, both genetic and environmental, and I decided how to overcome them. I don’t think I did this consciously, but I thought so much about what I had read that at some unconscious level I formed a resolve.

Some books have a lasting effect in our lives. It doesn’t happen with everything we read, and sometimes we find our own meanings within a story, but oftentimes the storyline is lost in memory because the deeper meaning is so profound. That’s how it was for me with Four Lords of the Diamond. Maybe it was my age. Maybe it was my mindset while reading a particular volume. Maybe it was just random happenstance. Whatever the reason, whenever you ask me about science fiction to make you think, this will top my list. If this is a series you’ve read, I’d love to hear your impressions. Let me know if it affected you as much as it affected me.

6 responses on “Four Lords of the Diamond

  1. clancy

    I loved these books for the same reason! Thanks, Colette for putting your finger on it.

    Also loved by Jack Chalker – The Well World series and the Bio of a Space Tyrant series. All three of these series by this same author have stayed with me. I own all the books and reread them every so often.

  2. Colette Post author

    The Well World series seems to be better known, but I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read them yet. Thanks for the comment, and the additions to my reading list. 🙂

  3. Herb

    The Four Lords of the Diamond also remains stuck in my mind. I reread the books on occasion and like them just as much each time. Very in depth. Makes me ponder life every time I read them. Bio of a Space Tryant and Well World are also up there, but nothing has left me thinking as much as Diamond. Another good one by Chalker is The Demons at Rainbow Bridge. Good reading there, too. Sometimes I forget exactly how many of the books I really enjoy are by Chalker.

  4. Akin B Ware

    Bio of A Space Tyrant is thematically similar, but surprisingly is by Piers Anthony, the creator of the Xanth series from his heavy science fiction period.

  5. Clayton McNee

    This series has a deep set place in my heart for many reasons, but I will only put the most significant here for the sake of brevity.

    The first chapter or two of each book is nearly identical with only very minor differences. So minor in fact that you’ve got to read over them a couple times to notice many of them (I remember taking notes on each as a pre-teen.) The differences in how the protagonist develops are mirrored and magnified as the story develops in some ways dirrectly correlated with the tiny differences at the very beginning. This was my first real understood example of “the butterfly effect.”

    These books were one of the first signficant things I can remember that fostered my love of psychology and sociology. I will never forget them.

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