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The Chronicles of Amber
Roger Zelazny
Victor Gollancz Millennium, 773 pages

The Chronicles of Amber
Roger Zelazny
During his career, Roger Zelazny won 6 Hugos and 3 Nebulas as well as many other major awards in the SF field. Several of his novels and short stories are considered landmarks, including Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness, "Home is the Hangman," and "A Rose for Ecclesiastes." The 10-volume Chronicles of Amber is regarded as a classic fantasy series. For the last 10 years of his life, Zelazny lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He died in 1995.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Lord of Light
SF Site Review: Donnerjack
Roger Zelazny Tribute Site
Roger Zelazny Tribute Site
Roger Zelazny Tribute Site
Roger Zelazny Obituary
Who's Who in Amber

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steve Lazarowitz

This is the hardest review I've ever had to write, for I can scarcely find the words to describe The Chronicles of Amber.

I have been a Roger Zelazny fan for many, many years. The Chronicles of Amber (at least the first five books of it) are my favourite of all his books. Now I'm sure many people will tell you that his other works, particularly Lord of Light or The Creatures of Light and Darkness are clearly THE must-read Zelazny books and certainly they are. But there is something about Amber that calls me to reread it every five years or so.

Consequently, when the first five books were recently released in a single trade paperback as part of the Fantasy Masterworks series, I was more than just a little thrilled and once again, I found myself transported to Amber.

Amber! The one true city. Every other city is just a reflection of Amber.

Amber is the true world and everything else, including Earth is just a shadow of it. The royal blood of Amber, the sons and daughters of Oberon, can walk through shadow, picking and choosing worlds as they go.

Corwin doesn't know this when he first wakes up on the shadow Earth, completely unable to remember anything, except that he'd been in a horrible car accident that wasn't an accident at all. Worse yet, someone was keeping him sedated and incommunicado for motives that weren't likely pure.

Though handicapped by amnesia, Corwin finds himself in a game where he doesn't know the stakes, but he knows they're high enough to kill for. He must use guile and guts to learn what's involved, before a terrible imminent event occurs. If only he can remember what!

It would be virtually impossible to tell you much more than this, without ruining the myriad surprises that constantly assail you as you explore Amber -- another reason this review was so difficult to write!

So, instead of the traditional this happens-that happens, I thought perhaps a scattering of interesting tidbits might be more in order. Such as:
Remba is an underwater city, a seabound reflection of Amber.
Corwin and his brethren own packages of tarot cards, magical cards created by the mad mage, Dworkin. The cards allow family members to communicate with each other, pass through the shadows or even travel to Amber itself. The Jewel of Judgment can be used to control weather. Eric of Amber used it to decimate the armies that marched against him.
Princes of Amber on their deathbed can pronounce a curse that always comes to pass.
Everything exists somewhere in shadow.
Oberon, who was King in Amber, is not quite as dead as everyone thinks he is.
The Courts of Chaos exist at the opposite end of reality from Amber.
Corwin is one of nine brothers -- all of whom would love to sit on the vacant throne. Alliances are common and betrayal just as common. Machiavellian doesn't even BEGIN to describe the dealings between family members.

I could go on for pages, but I think I'll stop here and let you discover (or rediscover) Amber on your own.

The first volume of the Chronicles (all of which are contained in this book) consist of five books; Nine Princes in Amber, The Guns of Avalon, The Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon and finally, The Courts of Chaos. You really do need to read all five. Fortunately none are particularly long and they read quickly. There is a second Chronicles as well, consisting of yet another five books, but they are not present in this volume. They also have a different protagonist and consist of completely different events.

If you love intrigue and twisting, turning plots set against a fantasy background, you can't do much better than The Chronicles of Amber.

Copyright © 2000 by Steve Lazarowitz

Steve Lazarowitz lives in Brooklyn, NY. His work has appeared in numerous online 'zines including Twilight Times, AnotherRealm, Jackhammer, Aphelion and Titan. His short story "As Luck Would Have It" took first place in the 1998 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. He is a regular reviewer for SF Site.

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