- The First Chronicles of Amber (Books 1 – 5) by Roger Zelazny
Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-5 (First half of the Novels of the Towering Fantasy Saga)
Publisher: Harper Voyager; 1st Avon Eos Printing: Dec. 1999 edition (December 8, 1999), Paperback: 1264 pages, ISBN-10: 0380809060, ISBN-13: 978-0380809066
An interesting and compelling concept for a fantasy book and a very different kind of fantasy. Some elements of the story take place in modern times and some elements take place in medieval times. I found the writing to be imaginative and quite deep.
Amber is the only real place upon the real Earth. It is the substance from which all other realities are but a shadow, including the world that we now live in and there are unlimited numbers of shadow worlds that extend from Amber to Chaos and consequently all roads (through shadow) lead to Amber. A prince or princess of Amber has control over shadow and as such can enter and influence shadow worlds. There is no magic, per say in the first five books, instead there is substance and shadow, order(Amber) and Chaos. As such a descendant of Amber can move through shadow with his thoughts. He thinks about what should be next and then it is there, so he thinks about a green sun and purple sky and it becomes so, he thinks about eating and a diner appears or he wants to get to Amber so he thinks about the various shadow worlds near to Amber and eventually Amber will appear.
In the vicinity of Amber the world is more like medieval times where , gun-powder, cars and other electric gadgets do not work, in some shadow worlds, such as our earth, these things do work and are utilized in the story. We learn that the nine Princes of Amber all want to win the crown and since their Dad, the King is missing. As a result of this there is a lot of violence, intrigue and energy going into this pursuit. The four Princesses of Amber are also involved in the conflict in various ways.
The Chronicles are a culmination of 10 small novels that make up the world of Amber into one big book of over 1200 pages, the first 5 books revolve around the protagonist Corwin, who is a prince of Amber and are told in first person from Corwin’s point of view. These first 5 books are a complete story in and of them self and in fact are much better than the last 5 books. The last five stories are told from Corwin’s son Merlin’s point of view and tell a different story and we learn more of Chaos in the second half.
Corwin is introduced and the premise of the book is set up. I like the way it starts as a mystery where Corwin has amnesia and we learn with him about Amber and about shadow. It should be noted that the Royalty of Amber have incredible speed, strength and regenerative qualities. They all live seemingly endless lives, unless they are murdered, which they can happen since they are not immortal. The basis of the first five stories stem around the succession of Amber and the various family intrigue and disputes in resolving this. I liked how the story evolved as well as how it concluded ay the end of the fifth book. Overall a very good read, at times I found it hard to put the book down.