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The Great Book of Amber (The Chronicles of Amber, #1-10)
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Book Discussions > The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny

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message 1: by Jonathan, Reader of the fantastic (new) - added it

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 525 comments This is our December classic read!


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 1747 comments 'Reads'? It's 10 books. Short books, but still! I'm on my 2d copy of this book since a couple of reads tends to break its spine.


message 3: by Jonathan, Reader of the fantastic (new) - added it

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 525 comments Ten books in one so I said read :P


message 4: by Pickle (new)

Pickle | 92 comments i have the Chronicles of Amber (1-5) and was never able to get past the first story.... the constant changing between worlds became tedious rather quickly...

I might try to re-read if there are favcurable reviews on here.


Evgeny Pickle wrote: "i have the Chronicles of Amber (1-5) and was never able to get past the first story.... the constant changing between worlds became tedious rather quickly...

I might try to re-read if there are f..."


For me the changing between the worlds was part of the fan. This, and trying to see how the whole picture fits together.


message 6: by Bev (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bev (Greenginger) | 116 comments I may well have a re read. I just discovered I have the whole set. I tend to forget what I have these days but I do recall reading these over and over years ago. I loved the unusual worlds and the brothers. Great stuff. Classic books not to be missed by any would be serious fantasy reader. Plus the author writes like a dream.


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 1747 comments The changing between worlds was a big part of the point of the series. (view spoiler)

I was wrong, I don't have a copy of the Great Book of Amber any more, although I do have the series in both paper & hardback. If I'm not mistaken, the "Prologue to the Trumps of Doom" (the 6th book, start of the Merlin arc.) is not part of the Great Book, is it? I think it was only included in the book club, hard back edition. That's one of the worst publishing horrors that I've ever seen. It's a very important piece, but was left out of all other editions, as far as I know.

It's also available as one of the short stories in Manna from Heaven. That is pretty tough to find & pricey, at least it was when I tried to find a copy for my son.


message 8: by G33z3r, The Old Guy (last edited Dec 03, 2012 06:35PM) (new)

G33z3r | 7709 comments Jim wrote: "['Prologue to the Trumps of Doom' is] also available as one of the short stories in Manna from Heaven. That is pretty tough to find & pricey, at least it was when I tried to find a copy for my son."

"Prologue to the Trumps of Doom" also appears in the more recent anthology The Road to Amber (2009), part of a comprehensive series of books of Roger Zelazny's works. It's still in print (Hardcover only, a bit pricey but not hard to find.)


message 9: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 1747 comments That's right, it does, as do all the Amber shorts, including that weird little partial Zelazny & a fan did. That one is also available online in the Amberzine archives. I've seen bootleg copies of all the short Amber stories around, too. Not that I'd publicly encourage piracy, but not including the prolog in the Great Book is a disservice to the reader.

I have to say the Collected Works of Roger Zelazny published by NESFA were fantastic. They have a lot of great books. Check them out here:
http://www.nesfa.org/press/

I bought them as they came out, including the 7th book, a paperback bibliography for the series. That's really worth getting since it has photos, one of my few complaints with the other 6. They'd talk about Zelazny writing a story based on a painting & then have no picture of it. Chris Kovacks (one of the editors who belongs to the Zelazny group here on GR) said it was mostly a publishing cost thing, although it took a while to get rights, too. Anyway, the last book solves the issue.


message 10: by G33z3r, The Old Guy (new)

G33z3r | 7709 comments Rereading Nine Princes in Amber today, I realized that I had forgotten how sweet Roger Zelazny's prose was. (He was part of the so-called "new-wave" of writers in the 60s & 70s (along with such writers as John Brunner & Harlan Ellison.)

After reviewing Creatures of Light and Darkness and Lord of Light (both of which I personally prefer to Amber), I was also reminded how Zelazny wrote about characters who were gods among mortals (often literally so), usually fighting among themselves. No everyman heroes here.

I think Zelazny used the "character awakens with no memory" technique from Amber's opening in other works. (In Lord of Light, Sam awakens after a long exile with fuzzy memories and no knowledge of current events, and in The Changeling, neither character is aware of his origins.) It's an interesting device that lets figuring out what's going on be part of the story, turning otherwise dry exposition into solving a mystery.


message 11: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 1747 comments His characters, for all their god-like powers, certainly have large doses of humanity in them, don't they? I love how unreliable Corwin is as a narrator. Some of that was apparently Zelazny's lack of notes and the long time that elapsed between the first book & the second, though.

Lord of Light & This Immortal are two of my favorite books of all time. I think the latter may edge out the former, though. I love how much story it packs into its few pages.


message 12: by G33z3r, The Old Guy (new)

G33z3r | 7709 comments One of the things that struck me after rereading Nine Princes in Amber now, forty years later, is how the female characters are all such total non-entities. (I got a chuckle at the Wikipedia article on the book doesn't even bother listing them under characters.) Flora is just Eric's spy, Deirdre just a damsel in distress needing rescue, Llewella & Moire simply content to stay out of the way while the boys fight it out.

That's not that uncommon for 1970, as far as I can recall. Other than Podkayne and Susan Calvin (and Dejah Thoris, I suppose), I can't think of many important female characters in classic pre-70s SF/F.


message 13: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Rowe (benwickens) | 429 comments I absolutely loved the first 5 books (the original series) - so engagingly written, so compelling and quite different from much of the other books that are out there.

They were very twisty and often what you had first accepted as true or the way the world worked kept changing. With the sequel series though I just didnt find them any way near as engaging and the twists seemed cumulatively to be twists too far.

I cannot see how they could have been better following the original series and they did very much capture the flavor of that first series but I dont think I even quite finished book 9 let alone made it through book 10.


message 14: by G33z3r, The Old Guy (last edited Jul 19, 2013 08:12AM) (new)

G33z3r | 7709 comments Ben wrote: "With the sequel series though I just didnt find them any way near as engaging..."

Likewise. Zelazny was one of my favorite authors in the 70's and 80's. From "He Who Shapes", "Lord of Light", "Creatures of Light and Darkness", as well as Amber, he had an incredible imagination and a fluid prose style. In many ways I regretted he returned to Amber (rather like writing in an established universe instead of inventing a new one, to echo our "Dragons of Autumn Twilight" discussion :)

Of his books, Amber was the series that was the most popular, and I can't fault the author for trying to make a living. He's certainly not the only author to turn a hit novel into a franchise.


message 15: by skribe (new)

skribe skribe | 10 comments G33z3r wrote: Likewise. Zelazny was one of my favorite authors in the 70's and 80's. From "He Who Shapes", "Lord of..."

I agree with all your points.

Do you feel that Amber has aged well, or is it firmly embedded in the 70s?


message 16: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 1747 comments G33z3r wrote: "One of the things that struck me after rereading Nine Princes in Amber now, forty years later, is how the female characters are all such total non-entities. (I got a chuckle at the Wikipedia articl..."

Rather than non-entities, I thought Llewella & Moire were good, strong characters who were unexplored. Zelazny said he didn't like his attempts at writing women characters very much at one point, I think.


message 17: by G33z3r, The Old Guy (last edited Jul 20, 2013 08:11AM) (new)

G33z3r | 7709 comments skribe wrote: "Do you feel that Amber has aged well, or is it firmly embedded in the 70s?..."

I only re-read the first book of the series as part of this discussion, but I thought it held up just fine. It's still a uniquely imaginative way to flit between dimensions. (Unless you consider the low participation by female characters to be a 70's thing.)

(Jonathan wanted this discussion to cover all 10 novels, but I didn't really feel like re-reading the last five especially. Jonathan reads faster than any 10 people I know. Though I noticed he didn't show up for his own discussion - depressing when that happens :)


message 18: by G33z3r, The Old Guy (last edited Jul 20, 2013 08:14AM) (new)

G33z3r | 7709 comments Jim wrote: "Rather than non-entities, I thought Llewella & Moire were good, strong characters who were unexplored. Zelazny said he didn't like his attempts at writing women characters very much at one point, I think...."

OK, "unexplored" and "under-developed" work to. They just don't seem to do much in the story except provide the male characters with someone to talk to.

A lot of male authors seem to feel they have trouble writing women. And yet they have no problem writing aliens, supernatural critters or inter-dimensional beings. I rather like George R. R. Martin's comment, "I've always considered women to be people."


message 19: by skribe (new)

skribe skribe | 10 comments G33z3r wrote: "I only re-read the first book of the series as part of this discussion, but I thought it held up just fine. It's still a uniquely imaginative way to flit between dimensions. (Unless you consider the low participation by female characters to be a 70's thing.)"

We barely got to see the female characters in the first book anyway, and then mainly as foils or objects of desire. They were cardboard cut-outs - but much of the family was in that book.

I was thinking more along the lines of attitudes and how they have changed. It's been a while since I read it, but the ones that come to mind are gender roles and sexual mores.

I remember back around 1999 or so there was talk of a movie. It hasn't happened - yet. As a screenwriter, I feel that translating those attitudes into a modern context would be the biggest hurdle. Studios are very mindful of treating women as second-class citizens - at least blatantly - and yet the Amberverse would be very different if the sexism were eliminated.

Also, Corwin sounds too-much like a dad trying to sound hip and cool =).


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