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The Great Book of Amber (The Chronicles of Amber, #1-10)

The Great Book of Amber (The Chronicles of Amber, #1-10)

Roger Zelazny


The entire Amber series, all two series and ten books of it. That's a lot of material to hold together as a coherent narrative, something only a master could have accomplished.

The first series builds on earlier swords-and-sorcery works and turns them on their head, as something happening contemporaneously with the modern world but in "shadows" being cast from Amber and Chaos, two poles of existence. The struggle between these two primal forces combines both the archetypal and the familial, with some siblings battling for the throne while others seek power by undermining the fabric of existence as embodied in the Pattern, that gives control over Shadow. The two struggles coalesce, with the Pattern being damaged and allowing Chaos to gain strength, and event that's reflected on all Shadows. It all comes down to a struggle to re-inscribe the Pattern and re-establish the balance.

All this (five book's worth) is recounted by the protagonist, Corwin, to his son Merlin, sitting on a rock before the Courts of Chaos at the end of the Patternfall Wall. The second series covers Merlin's adventures as similar forces rear-up and try to disrupt existence. The second series (another five books' worth) is nowhere near as polished as the first: there are a lot of loose ends and material that's never really explored, and the final ending feels quite weak, as though the strands didn't quite pull together as tightly as Zelazny wanted. It's a small failing, and the stories can be enjoyed for their pace and style without necessarily needing to be resolved.

5/5. Finished 23 April 2021.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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