June 2024
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Review: The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny

I have been looking for some new,  good fantasy for a while.  I’ve started to feel like I’ve read all the greats that are out there, and while this may be wrong, it’s hard to find new stuff that is highly recommended.  And since I’ve eschewed paying money for books right now, my only choices are in the library, and the selection isn’t too wide.  So, I saw this omnibus of the first five Chronicles sitting there, and I’d heard the name Roger Zelazny before, so I decided to give them a shot.

Corwin wakes up in a hospital with no idea who he is, really, only knowing that he’s much healthier than he’s supposed to be and that he’s ready to leave.  With nowhere to go, he finds the name of the sister who checked him in and goes to her house, vaguely remembering a place called Amber and a life where he reigned as a prince.  At Flora’s house, he meets his brother Random again, and manages to convince both of them that he knows exactly what’s going on.  Random helps him recover his memory once he knows the truth, and Corwin sets off to become king.  This saga features a very confused and complicated family and a whole range of emotions, with war, romance, and drama aplenty.

It is exciting, but I can’t say that I was captivated by this work.  For one thing, I didn’t really like Corwin.  I did like his development over the five books and by the end I was enamored enough with him, but I didn’t feel that I could relate to him because he felt so detached.  This is particularly so in the beginning when he is driven by one thing and his reasoning for it is foreign to me.  These books are very plot-driven and while the events affect and change Corwin in noticeable and dramatic ways, I thought all the back-stabbing and confusion really detracted from getting to know the family in any meaningful way despite the fact that I spent 800 pages with them.  Every 10 pages, something new would be revealed that changed who they were.

Beyond that, each book is short and while this is touted as one of its great features, I disliked it.  I felt that there was less time to know everyone because so many events were crammed into each less than 200 page book.  This would have been more effective, in my opinion, if it was actually longer.  I did like the story and I did finish the book, but I have no intention of going out to get the rest of the chronicles.  They have a clear ending point after these five and I’m content to leave it at that.

Only recommended if you like your stories full of plot, ever-changing characters, and short episodes rather than lengthy ones.


1 comment to Review: The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny

  • I once had a roommate who was a big Zelazny fan. She encouraged me to read the Amber books, but I just could not get through the first one, for much the same reasons you gave here.