Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Chronicles of Amber

The First Chronicles of Amber (Books 1-5)The First Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nine Princes in Amber: Mr. Corey wakes up in a hospital after a car accident with no memory of who he is. After visiting his sister (and fooling her into thinking he still has his memory), he crosses dimensions with his brother Random and eventually regains his memory after walking the Pattern in the city of Rebma, the sister city of Amber. From there, he joins up with his brother Bleys and attacks Amber, intent on stopping his brother Eric from crowning himself king.

Nine Princes in Amber is really good, especially considering all of the background Zelazny manages to cram into less than 150 pages. The twists are unexpected and the machinations of the nine princes of Amber are fairly reallistic. Although I can tell it was inspired by the first book of the World of Tiers series, it's far from being a ripoff. Zelazny started with Farmer's concept of an amnesiac hero who's a member of a group of nigh-immortal lords and taken it into a different direction. I'm looking forward to Guns of Avalon.

Guns of Avalon:Corwin hatches a plan to take Amber with a force bearing automatic rifles along with Ganelon, an old enemy. Along the way he spends time with his brother Benedict and Benedict's great granddaughter Dara. However, he isn't the only one assaulting Amber...

Guns of Avalon was even better than Nine Princes in Amber. I'm really enjoying the court intrigue between Corwin and his siblings. I didn't really see the ending coming until it was too late. Zelazny really knows how to craft a tale.

Sign of the Unicorn: Another of Corwin's family is murdered, Brand is rescued, and more of what actually happened to Corwin prior to the first book is revealed.

The Amber books probably wouldn't work as well if Zelazny hadn't written them in the first person. The way they are, we learn things as Corwin does. The machinations of Corwin's family are the driving force of the story and we get to watch as Corwin peels away lair after lair.

The Hand of Oberon: I'm officially past the point where I can give a synopsis and not give away too many plot points. Suffice to say, Zelazny is quite a story teller and I'm approaching the final novel in this volume with a sense of anticipation I haven't felt since the last volume of The Dark Tower wound up in my mailbox years ago.

The Courts of Chaos: Who stabbed Corwin in the dark? Will Amber be destroyed by the forces of Chaos? Can the Pattern be repaired? Who will sit on the throne of Amber? All of these questions and more are answered in this, the final book of The First Chronicles of Amber.

Zelazny took the aspects of Farmer's World of Tiers he liked the most, namely the immortal family endlessly conspiring against one another and the amnesiac hero, and ran with it. Amber isn't so much a fantasy story as a huge multi-layered mystery. I thought I knew how it would end but I was wrong. I'm officially ranking Amber up there with Moorcock's Elric series (the first six or so) and Stephen King's Dark Tower as my favorite fantasy stories of all time.

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