Lord of Light and other books


So is the song Lord of Light at all based on or inspired by the novel of the same name by Roger Zelazny? Because the lyrics could work that way. I like to think it is based on the novel, it makes the song so much better and powerful in my mind ;p

I know Maiden has a lot of songs based on works of literature, and historical events. Sometimes i think these things are a positive, but sometimes TBH it feels uninspired. Like writing a song based on Falling Down, it was a great movie, but an Iron Maiden song?....

And i know BNW was not based on the book. But the book was awesome so it would be a plus in my eyes if i were to find it was.

(i know Falling Down is a movie, but i swear i read somewhere that Steve Harris read the novel and based it off that, not the movie. But i just looked it up and there is no book...)


Maiden seems to take book titles and make songs out of them. Many science fiction classics...

The Number of the Beast (Robert A. Heinlein)
Stranger in a Stranger Land (Robert A. Heinlein)
Childhood's End (Arthur C. Clarke)
Out of the Silent Planet (C.S. Lewis)
Dune ("To Tame a Land") (Frank Herbert)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
When Worlds Collide ("When Two Worlds Collide", Phillip Wylie & Edwin Balmer)

And as noted, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. It seems like the majority of the songs they've written has been based on works of literature or film, sometimes by just stealing a title, sometimes by retelling the plot.


Dominus et deus
Staff member
With the exception of To Tame a Land and Brave New World, none of the songs are actually based on the books, though.


Ancient Mariner
Looking at this list, or the whole discography? In other words: are these two books the only direct sources of inspiration?


Dominus et deus
Staff member
I'm not sure I understand your question, but I was only talking about Maturin's list if that's what you meant.


Ancient Mariner
Yes, that's what I meant.

In that case, let's see if we can make a complete list of books, which were direct sources of inspiration for Maiden (so no works where films were the inspiration instead of the books they were based on).


Dominus et deus
Staff member
I'm not sure it's all that possible. We can't travel back to 1975 and look if Steve was actually reading Gaston Leroux' Phantom of the Opera, or if he watched a film based on it. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Allan Sillitoe is canon reading in English schools, but was H thinking of the book or the film when he wrote the song? Unless you find an authoritative statement from the writers themselves, I don't think we can make a proper list.

Maturin's book list is a special case anyway. Books like Childhood's End or The Number of the Beast were never adapted. The songs are about completely different things, they only have the titles in common.


Ancient Mariner
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Allan Sillitoe is canon reading in English schools, but was H thinking of the book or the film when he wrote the song?
That'd be Harris. :)

But yes, I see the problem here. I could do some searching attempts. But then we'd first need a list of books (before we know if they were direct sources or not).
Maybe too much work.

@Perun Ha!
Now, let's go through the different tracks of the album.

As I said, I wrote 4 songs: 'Caugh Somewhere In Time', 'Heaven Can Wait', 'The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner', and 'Alexander The Great'. As usual, it was impossible for me to write cheesy love songs like, "I love you, you love me, what a wonderful life". Anyway, I've never been interested in this kind of things. 'The Loneliness...' was inspired by an old British film with the same title. The theme is ead simple: in life, you have to run, move forward, even if it means that you have to run alone. Just move on without a care about what people might say about you. 'Heaven Can Wait', the single, that's the story of someone who's struggling not to go to Heaven quite yet. Eddie himself dictated it to me one night during the last tour. 'Caugh Somewhere In Time' relates a nightmare trip through time due to the misfunction – or misuse! – of a time machine. My most ambitious composition is certainly 'Alexander The Great', a story based on true facts. When we started working on the LP, I was immersed in the story of Alexander The Great, a man who had a fantastic and incredible life. I fell in love with him and, quite naturally, I wrote the song and the lyrics, all this within two weeks. I must say that I'm very proud of this track.
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Ancient Mariner
Another one, @Perun
Why "Iron Maiden"?...

I had the idea when I saw a film in which there was a torture instrument called an iron maiden, some kind of coffin with sharp spikes on the inside, that closes on its victim. I thought it fitted well to the music I was writing (Note: Steve Harris write almost all the songs of the band) and, as I love horror films, this is mainly where I get my inspiration from. This is how I wrote 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' or 'Phantom Of The Opera'. We play an aggressive music and I chose this theme, the horror depicted at the cinema or in comics, like others choose hell, for instance. And I think that this is why the kids have a great time with us.


Dominus et deus
Staff member
But yes, I see the problem here. I could do some searching attempts. But then we'd first need a list of books (before we know if they were direct sources or not).
Well I can make you a list of Maiden songs that share titles with books and narratives:

Gaston Leroux - Phantom of the Opera
Edgar Allan Poe - Murders in the Rue Morgue
Robert Heinlein - 'The Number of the Beast'
J.-H. Rosny - Quest for Fire
Samuel Taylor Coleridge - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Allan Sillitoe - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Robert Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land
Aleister Crowley - Moonchild
Orson Scott Card - The Seventh Son
Arthur C. Clarke - Childhood's End
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Phillip Wylie/Edwin Balmer - When Worlds Collide
Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
C.S. Lewis - Out of the Silent Planet
Roger Zelazny - Lord of Light
Rudyard Kipling - The Man Who Would Be King
Raymond Briggs - When the Wind Blows

Then some with obvious and stated inspiration and other tidbits:

William Shakespeare - Julius Caesar (The Ides of March, The Evil That Men Do)
Gospel of Luke (Prodigal Son)
The Lord's Prayer (Hallowed Be Thy Name)
Fable of Icarus (as told by Pseudo-Apollodorus) (Flight of Icarus)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson - The Charge of the Light Brigade (The Trooper)
Frank Herbert - Dune (To Tame a Land)
Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose (Sign of the Cross)
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness (The Edge of Darkness)

Maybe too much work.
Somebody else already did this.


Ancient Mariner
As much as I value the Commentary, there are some assumptions made, or own interpretations. Which is good, especially when there is no other info.
But Baeleron and Mav did not always do thorough (or complete) research. Nowadays, more info is available (there's more on the internet).

E.g. on Phantom, the Commentary mentions the book as inspiration, although also this is mentioned:
Many films have been made about this novel and the 1974 Brian De Palma film, Phantom of the Paradise is also inspired by the same story that the director transposed to a more modern setting (for the time anyway!).

I trust that interview to contain correct info (a film).

Thanks for the list. I'll try to delve into it, sooner or later.
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Dominus et deus
Staff member
But it goes wrong on Phantom, I just saw it.
Let's say Mav is wrong in the opening statement of the commentary on that song, but his details are still legit. He is dead wrong about what the book Childhood's End is about, though. I remember telling him, and he didn't believe me.

(even if translated on a Russian site ;-) ).
Good luck, Foro. It was nice knowing you. :p