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Disclaimer: if you enter this cycle you won't be able to put it down before having read it all! The first volume of the Chronicles consists 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. But do you know who Roger Zelazny was? He won 6 Hugos and 3 Nebulas and other major awards in the SF field. He was one of the most incredible SF writers I've ever read, only comparable to Tanith Lee, Jack Vance or Robert Silverberg for his fantasy, genius, intuition and culture. If you're used to read the old good Asimov you'll be surprised, because Zelazny is able to open new worlds wide without taking you ten light-years from planet Earth. For him it was enough to open a little door into a parallel universe, not too different from ours, to Copernican revolutionize everything we know and take for granted. Science Fiction critics and enthusiasts, even though they praised and applauded him, tried to label Zelazny, confining him into a current named "new wave", characterized by cryptical experimentalism, language funambulism and virtuosity. But this isn't Zelazny. He was a cultivated author, who was at his own ease with history and mythology, who liked quoting Homer or throwing out a German poem or an Italian sentence in a careless manner. He was a perfectionist who paid much attention to details: in his descriptions of hand-to-hand fights, for instance, he used to indulge in the usage of a specific terminology which make the readers understand how he was well-versed in anatomy or fencing. His works ranged over everything excited his curiosity or impassioned him, with a particular attention to themes like immortality, parallel universes, mythology and religion. It is impossible not to notice the meticulosity with which he created his characters: every actor in his books was alive, had got his own past, i n one word he had a unique personality. But let's move on "The Chronicles": "Nine princes in Amber" is the book that opens this cycle. The scene starts in a modern hospital, the protagonist wakes up in a bed, with his legs in plaster, and finds himself stunned by an overdose of narcotics. His survival instinct, or what Zelazny defines "a natural skepticism about the pureness of all human motives", makes him mistrust the nurses, who keep on sending him to the dreamland every time he opens his eyes. Even if he suffers of an almost total amnesia, flashes of light that break the darkness of his memory induce him to escape. We'll follow Corwin -for this is his name- and we'll put in their proper place the small tesserae of the great puzzle that his life is, during a fantastic adventure to discover Amber. What's Amber? Amber is the universe, indeed, every universe has been created taking it as a model. Amber is the real world and every other reality is just a shadow of it. It's the world governed by Nine Princes, brothers and sisters who fight one against the others to obtain the throne after their father Oberon's mysterious vanishing. They struggle for power with no rules but the prize is worthy an infernal war, where the opposing forces are nothing but Order and Chaos, Good and Evil. A dichotomy that reminds the great Michael Moorcock. Unforgettable characters, like Dworkin the mad genius, surprising narrative artifices, like the Trumps, half-way between telepathy and telekinesis: they will keep you glued to the pages. Small clues and big revelations will follow one another, thickening and finally unraveling the plot, till it comes to the Scheme. But this is another story. You MUST read it! Scarlet
Roger Zelazny was one of the most respected characters in modern fantasy, and from his legendary books, his Amber chronicals stand out as his best ever work. Now 4 years after his death the entire first Amber series is released in one volume. The series tells the story of Corwin Prince of Amber, who is a likeable hero with a very shady past and an even shadier family. This book is actually a compilation of 5; 9 princes in Amber, Sign of the Unicorn, The Guns of Avalon, The Hand of Oberon and the Courts of Chaos. I had read only two of these and enjoyed them immensely so this book was a real treat. Roger Zelazny’s style is impressive, the story starts in 9 princes in Amber with Corwin awaking in a 20th century hospital with total amnesia, he remembers virtually nothing up to the point of awakening, as he frees himself from the rather overzealous orderlies he does find out a few unusual things about himself, he seems to have healed incredibly quickly he seems to posses unusual strength. As he follows clues to his own identity he finds out the strange truth of his situation, 20th century earth is not a real place but what is called a shadow, the shadows emanate from a place called Amber where Corwin is in line for the crown. What follows is akin to a detective story in its intricate plotting and unwhirling of the mysteries following their fathers Oberon’s disappearance. Corwin fights wars, fights duels, endures being tortured and blinded. What makes this book quite so special is the span that it encompasses, for example, Corwin explores a full range of emotions from hate to love and from fear to respect. He travels through reality, “shadow” as it is in the book with a sense of style, the sky changes in colour, the people change. This book is an amazing epic and I would recommend it or its extended companion “the big book of Amber” to any reader who loves a good stor y.