The Four Lords of the Diamonds Author:Jack L. Chalker This book is a complete series, consisting of the entire Four Lords of the Diamond Series. It contains these books: "Lilith, A Snake in the Grass;" "Cerebrus, A Wolf in the Fold;" "Charon, A Dragon at the Gate;" and "Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail." — It is a book club edition — Here is what the jacket says, I can't really do better: — " Consisting of... more » four oddly different worlds, the Warden Diamond System is a natural prison. There, microscopic symbiotic organisms called Wardens invade the cells of all matter. Leaving the Diamond, for some reason, causes the Wardens to die -- and with them, their hosts, in excruciating and hideous ways. So for centuries, the Confederacy has been sending to the system its most creative, brilliant, and individualistic criminals -- minds too rare to waste by wiping or execution.
But for those imprisioned, there are hidden benefits. On each of the planets, the Wardens have unique side effects, bestowing strange powers. On the paradise Lilith, where Wardens allow nothing artifical, no technology exists, and people can manipulate matter -- and their fellow beings. The watery Cerebrus, run as a highly computerized corporation, offers its inhabitants the ability to switch minds with others, not always voluntarily. Charon, filled with vast jungles and deserts, allows humans to create illusions and make them real; while on icy and forbidding Medusa, bodies can change to adapt to any environment. Each world is ruled by a Lord -- a master criminal who rose into power by brilliance and ruthlessness.
Now, from within the Diamond, there comes a danger that threatens the very existance of the Confederacy [of worlds]. Working in allegiance with the Four Lords, a technologically superior, unnerving, elusive alien race has infiltrated the Confederacy at the highest levels.
To stop them, the confederacy calls its best agent, a Master Assassin. He will make a one-way trip to the Diamond. Or rather, his mind will. Four people stripped of their own personalities will have his mind imposed on their bodies instead.
The mission: working alone, using nothing more than their naked abilites, the surrogates must each find one of the mysterious Four Lords, kill them, and take over their link with the aliens -- knowing full well, even with a successful mission, they are trapped on the Diamond forever!"« less
This has got to be my favorite book of all time. The one that I reach for to reach again when traveling so that I'm not too distracted to hear the bording call to the plane or when the relatives call me to dinner. Yet entertaining to read over and over again. I love the juxtoposition of the four worlds and how they come together in the end. I like Mr Chalkers writing style but have to admit, some of his series make me wonder about his dream world. This won't be one of them that worries you over much. It is full of charismatic characters and inventive worlds in the best style of hard core science fiction.