Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: NINE PRINCES IN AMBER

by Roger Zelazny, published in 1970

Amber, the one real world, wherein all others, including our own Earth, are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin's blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne. From Arden to the blood-slippery Stairway into the Sea, the air is electrified with the powers of Eric, Random, Bleys, Caine, and all the princes of Amber whom Corwin must overcome. Yet, his savage path is blocked and guarded by eerie structures beyond imaging—impossible realities forged by demonic assassins and staggering horrors to challenge the might of Corwin's superhuman fury. (Summary from Goodreads)

This book begins with a man waking up in hospital with no memory of how he got there. His legs are in casts and he's covered in bandages, but he is able to get up, break the casts and walk out. He doesn't remember who he is, but he intuitively understands that it was no accident that injured him and brought him to that hospital, that something important is going on, and he must figure out what.

Thus begins the Amber Chronicles, a series about the magical land of Amber and the nine princes competing for the throne. Amber is the real world, and all other worlds are shadows of it. Princes of Amber can manipulate these shadows and travel through different worlds, but it is Amber that lies in their hearts and souls, and it is Amber they wish to inhabit.

Unfortunately, after their father's strange disappearance, Corwin's brother Eric has declared himself king and has taken over Amber. This book details Corwin's struggle to return to Amber from shadow Earth, to regain his memory, to gain the loyalty of his other brothers, and to take the throne from his arrogant brother.

Zelazny creates a complex and vivid fantasy world--yet at the same time his prose is simple and not layered with thousands of detailed descriptions like a lot of epic fantasies are. He gets to the point and leaves room for your imagination to do its thing. I love the unique ideas in this book--the vast number of worlds, the trumps that allow the royal siblings to communicate with each other, the ability to manipulate shadows. I recommend this book to readers who like Robert Jordan, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin and Orson Scott Card (though none of these comparisons are quite right because Zelazny's writing is unique). Corwin's journey is fascinating, and I will be re-reading this series for years to come.

4 comments:

  1. Sounds cool. I'm always on the lookout for interesting new fantasy series. =)

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    1. Me too! Especially ones that don't take quite as much commitment as Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson. The Amber books are really short compared to them, and I find that refreshing in an epic fantasy series.

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  2. I have heard of Roger Zelazny, but I have never read him before. I think I might have to put this book on my TBR pile of books. The story sounds very intriguing..:) Thank you for the great review.

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    1. You are welcome! I hope you enjoy.

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