El's Reviews > The Chronicles of Amber: Volume I

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
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Oct 20, 2007

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bookshelves: 20th-centurylit-late, fantasy
Read in October, 2007

I hesitate to say anything until I have at least finished the second volume (if not the remaining books of the series), but will say now that the first book in this volume, Nine Princes in Amber, started out so slowly that I could not bring myself to read it. It seemed the action wanted to get going but the writing was so stunted that the story could not move. One could argue that because the protagonist, Corwin, begins the story with amnesia that the writing is a reflection (hmm, a Shadow?) of his own confusion and simplicity.

"...I picked up a huge overstuffed chaire and hurled it perhaps thirty feet across the room. It broke the back of the man it struck."

Most of the first book is written this way, where there finally is a bit of action and then, boom, it is over and who cares if there was no emotion behind it?

By the end of the first book and through most of the second book, The Guns of Avalon, the story picked up, there was more emotion behind the characters and their history and Zelazny began to take the time to tell a real story. By the end of the second book, however, during yet another important battle, all emotion left the writing and what was left was a skeletal bare-bones description of what was probably meant to be more intense than what was provided. Corwin could no longer use the excuse of having amnesia, and it really felt more that the author was on a deadline or was simply ready to finish the book.

It's not to say that there are not interesting components of the series that are going to insist that I finish the books (the Greater Trumps of Amber, the Pattern, Dara, Random and his wife, Corwin's ascension to the throne, etc.). I can acknowledge the fact that this is a series and that there are several more books to read, and that no series has all the answers in the first two books. However, while I do not insist on answers, I do insist on good writing, and my complaint with the few Zelazny's I have read, including these, are that I feel he never allowed himself to open up and be the good writer he was capable of being. For that reason I feel like I am constantly being gypped.
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