Nine Princes in Amber

Roger Zelazny
Nine Princes in Amber Cover

Epic multiverse adventure


I wish I could have a time machine so I could send my fifteen year-old self this book. I would have loved it back then, and put it proudly on my bookshelf next to Moorcock and my French SF comicbooks. It's a cool fantasy adventure, filled with large-scale armies moving across dimensions to regain the throne at the center of all realities. Much like Amber casts its Shadow upon the many realities of the multiverse, I can see the shadow of the Zelazny's work cast on many fantasy settings I have read in the past.

Amber is a complicated setting to explain, so Zelazny made the decision to start his protagonist, Corwin, as an amnesiac. He wakes up in a hospital with no recollection of who he is, but instead of turning out to be a secret CIA assassin, Corwin turns out to be the rightful heir to the throne of Amber. The tension is nice and slow in this part of the novel, and the drive from California to Amber with his brother Random was absolutely exciting.

Strangely enough, though, the moment Corwin finds his memory again, I felt I lost some emotional resonance with him. He becomes obsessed with reclaiming the throne from Eric, and he is more than willing to sacrifice a quarter million troops, who followed him on the false pretense he is their god, to get a shot at his brother. That's where I wish I had read this book twenty years ago; I would have glossed over this part much more easily than I do now.

Ah, but anyway. The setting is awesome regardless, and there are four more books in what promises to be an epic story. I'm sure I'll find the character development I yearn for in a later book, and then I can appreciate this universe regardless of the fact that I'm nowhere near fifteen anymore.