Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny

Posted by Lilith at Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny, Corwin Cycle

The Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny is a finished fantasy series that is actually made of two separate but related stories. The first five books have Corwin of Amber as the first-person narrator while the second series features Merlin.

This series is a classic must-read for all fantasy fans. The books are quite short, having been writing before huge doorstopper fantasy books became popular. Each is a gem, with not a single excess word.

Corwin of Amber

With this landmark fantasy series, Zelazny created the unforgettable Corwin. The quintessential Zelazny man, he is immortal, kick ass, ruthless but not without gentler emotions, quick-witted and all in all, I think he is exactly the type of guy you want to be in charge when the going gets tough.

Exiled these many years from a home he cannot remember because of amnesia after his defeat at the hands of his rival, the first five books feature Corwin’s struggle to regain all that he lost, his memory, his identity and his heritage.

More on the second set of books later as a discussion of those will necessarily feature spoilers.

Machiavellian barely covers it

The books feature a notable cast of secondary characters, chiefly Corwin’s Machiavellian siblings, a bunch of powerful, beautiful people whose everyday lives are full of underhanded schemes, potential backstabbings, swordfights, warfare, guns, hell-maids, seductions, and other fun things. :P

All this is set in Amber and various worlds which are shadows of Amber, the one true world. The king of Amber has gone missing and Corwin’s siblings are in a mad scramble for power while creatures from the Courts of Chaos attempt to invade.

The series features an original and imaginative magic system stemming from the idea of Amber being the one true world. Again, a full discussion of this would result in many spoilers, especially since the books start with the main character knowing nothing then slowly working things out from what he discovers and remembers. I don’t want to spoil the pleasure for you.

Zelazny, one of the leading lights of the New Wave of SF

The true reason why the series is so good, however, is simply the writing. Zelazny is a master of his craft and it shows in the poetic and unforgettable scenes he paints in the reader’s minds.

The late Roger Zelazny is a well-known Nebula and Hugo award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer whose other words include “Lord of Light,” “This Immortal” and “Creatures of Light and Darkness.”

Zelazny was one of the most important and influential of the New Wave of science fiction writers of the 60s who revolutionized and made respectable the genre with their more sophisticated and polished writing style.

The Basics

What it has:

swords, horses, immortals, magic, thrones, kings, sorcerers, wine, amnesia, sibling rivalry, backstabbing, scheming, prison escape, sex, picnics, travel, adult protagonists, guns, cars, mysterious crimes, prostitutes, genealogy, duels, plot twists, war, hate, love, family, fencing, wrestling, smart aleck protagonist, Shakespearean allusions, fried lizard parts, eating crow

What it doesn’t have:

children, teenagers, farm boys, shepherds, love triangles, excessive sentimentality, elves, dwarfs, hobbits, magic staffs, fairies, rangers, thieves, evil chickens that are not chickens, lemmings


Amber is the one real world, casting infinite reflections of itself -- Shadow worlds, that can be manipulated by those of royal Amberite blood. But the royal family is torn apart by jealousies and suspicion; the disappearance of the Patriach Oberon has intensified the internal conflict by leaving the throne apparently up for grabs. In a hospital on the Shadow Earth, a young man is recovering from a freak car accident; amnesia has robbed him of all his memory, even the fact that he is Corwin, Crown Prince of Amber, rightful heir to the throne -- and he is in deadly peril . . . The five books, Nine Princes in Amber, The Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon and The Courts of Chaos, together make up The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny's finest work of fantasy and an undisputed classic of the genre.


The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber)
Amazon Link. This is the cheapest that you can buy since it contains the whole 10 book Amber Chronicles series. You can also preview the book and read what other people have to say about Amber. This is what I personally recommend as the cheapest way to get this series. IMO don't bother buying the books 1 by 1.

The Chronicles of Amber, Vol. I and II (Nine Princes in Amber, The Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon, and The Courts of Chaos) (Amber, Vol. 1 - 5)
In case you only want the first five books about Corwin, this is collection that you should buy.

Roger Zelazny's Visual Guide to Castle Amber
*drools* I do not have this particular book but I wish I did!

The Chronicles of Amber:
A prettier cover, the Fantasy Masterworks edition of the first five books, it's cheaper but you can only buy it used.


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