'The Amber Chronicles' by Roger Zelazny, a classic fantasy series

I've re-read Roger Zelazny's 'The Amber Chronicles' series more times than I can recall. I've worn out two copies of this complete collection, and lost countless individual copies of the component books. This fantasy series begins with Nine Princes in Amber, and is one of my favorite fantasy series.

When the story opens neither we nor our hero, Corwin, know what's going on. He is lost in a coma and awakens with amnesia, which we are led to understand is the result of a recent car accident that should have left him dead. Corwin goes on to discover who he is by threatening pretty much everyone he meets. It works.

We are introduced to a magical universe in which Chaos and Order are polar extremes physically represented by their ruling families, neither of which truly represent the dictionary definitions of either term. The Great Pattern of Amber appears chaotic in its order, while the ever changing Logrus of Chaos somewhat more predictable. Both are manifestations of the power and state of their influence.

Corwin is a scion of Order. That kingdom is under siege, perhaps due to his own powerful curse. The adventure follows his path through the various realities that exist between Chaos and Order, known as Shadow, and we later follow the path of his son Merlin, as both attempt to find the balance between the two realms.

Zelazny's Amber Chronicles are somewhat dated but still wonderful. The characters are colorful and fun. I love that Zelazny builds empathy, trust and maybe even love, for Corwin, a lead character who seems to have very few redeeming qualities. The universe he imagined is one I enjoy returning to.

Roger Zelazny's The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber)

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  1. This is still my number one longed for HBO adaptation. An updated to modern times Amber TV show would kill in today's TV environment. Or hell, I would even settle for the CW - I like looking at pretty teenagers as much as the next guy.

  2. Yes! I love this series and I love Zelazny. One of the greats.

  3. snig says:

    Often when I'm in a unfamiliar city that looks just a little bit like somewhere I've been before, I'll think about walking in shadows and making it where I want to go.

  4. Random was my favorite character in the series. A few of us fans back in the day had an RPG going on with the characters, rather than the exact plot - we behaved as they did, but did different things, and this was before the series ended. It was done in real time, and a private fanzine of ours kept everyone up to date, tho we morphed it considerably. Much backstabbing and trickery involved, with verisimilitude, and at one point I ambushed another character outside of his actual home with a broomhandle Mauser replica I had laying around - Amber gunpowder was in, and another character killed off his girlfriend's character while IRL they were actually at a midnight showing of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' - that didn't go down well.

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