Roger Zelazny discussion

Amber > To read or not to read? (Merlin Cycle)

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message 1: by Dan, Jack of Shadows (new)

Dan Schwent (akagunslinger) | 55 comments Does the second half of the Amber saga diminish the first half? Should I stop things with Corwin or plunk down the cash and get the second five books dealing with Merlin?

I'm comfortable with how the first half ended and I'm not so sure about the second half.

message 2: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) This is what I am wondering too as I am in the same position.

I have heard that it is not as good but still worth reading.

message 3: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments That's a really good question... I'd have to say that I'm glad I read them all, but the second 5 were a bit of a letdown after the first 5. Not up to par, I guess. Still, they were fun & interesting. Betancourt's novels were similar in that way. It's so cool to be back in Amber, but it's not quite the same, shiny place.

If I had it to do all over again, I'd still read them. It does add a lot to the overall story.

message 4: by Dan, Jack of Shadows (new)

Dan Schwent (akagunslinger) | 55 comments For the moment I'll probably hold off on the second five. I had the same dilemma after finishing the first three Earthsea books.

message 5: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments I've never tried to read past the first 3 Earth Sea books. Are they worth it? I have very fond memories of the original trilogy (I didn't like 'Tombs' as much as 1 & 3).

message 6: by Dan, Jack of Shadows (new)

Dan Schwent (akagunslinger) | 55 comments Jim wrote: "I've never tried to read past the first 3 Earth Sea books. Are they worth it? I have very fond memories of the original trilogy (I didn't like 'Tombs' as much as 1 & 3). "

I don't know. I stopped after the third book. I thought Tombs was good but my least favorite of the three.

message 7: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments Anyone else read the later Earth Sea books? Looks like Dan & I aren't adventuresome enough.

message 8: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 84 comments I read the first two is all. I barely remember them...

message 9: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments Thanks, Bunwat! That's what I love about this place. Much better than stale reviews.

message 10: by Brandon (new)

Brandon | 4 comments Dan wrote: "Does the second half of the Amber saga diminish the first half? Should I stop things with Corwin or plunk down the cash and get the second five books dealing with Merlin?

I'm comfortable with..."

I think that the second half is worth reading, it tied up a lot of loose ends from the first series. Though it does leave new ones. My biggest problem with it was that the hero wasn't Corwin. I kept wanting Merlin to be like Corwin. Zelazny didn't. Merlin isn't as mean, heroic, suave and charismatic as corwin. He's much younger and more naive than Corwin. I would like to go into more detail but don't want to spoil anything. I would read them, just realize that Merlin is his own character, not a shadow of Corwin.

message 11: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) Brandon, I agree. Merlin is not Corwin. He's not as complex or interesting as Corwin.

I have the omnibus with all 10 of the Amber books, The Great Book of Amber. It was kind of nice having all 10 together because each one ends in a darn cliffhanger.

message 12: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) I'm embarking on a new journey into the Merlin series. From reading some of the above comments, I hope I'm not disappointed.

Earthsea: I only liked the first one yet I continued. Seems I don't know when to quit. Hated Tombs. 3rd was OK. 4th barely OK. Then I finally quit. Eventually I do catch on, LOL

message 13: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) I'm only a few chapter in on Trumps and I'm liking it already. Zelazny has a way of getting you interested right away. April 30th was a guaranteed way to get my attention.

message 14: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments You'll love it, Jackie.

message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) I think I will, I'm feeling very comfortable in it already.

message 16: by Grimward (new)

Grimward | 20 comments I had the slightly different perspective of reading Merlin's series first. Naturally, left me scratching my head in a place or two where Zelazny's writing implied some level of previous familiarity with the characters from the first series, but reading it this way (which wasn't planned!) let me consider Merlin on his own merits, without having Corwin hovering over me. Merlin's matter-of-fact comfort with his abilities as a magic-user does convey a bit more polish in the way he approaches things (which at the same time IS more naive than Corwin!). I enjoyed Ghostwheel, though, and the level of abstraction that it brought to Merlin's character; there really isn't anything like that in the first series.

They are different people, surely. I enjoy both.

message 17: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) I find Merlin just as interesting as Corwin but for different reasons. I was intrigued by Corwin with his lack of memory and felt a bond with him since we were discovering his life together.
Merlin is just cool. He has an extensive knowledge and usage of Shadows and has an interesting thought process. To think of the Ghostwheel was genius. He's of two worlds, Amber and Chaos, so naturally I'd think he'd be more complex. I've only just finished Trumps of Doom, so I'm just taking a guess on that one. But I have a feeling Zelazny will deliver.

No, Merlin is not Corwin, but if he were a copy of Corwin, I'd feel cheated. They are two separate people and I like them both. Though, I am interested to find out where Corwin has been all this time and I'm sure it'll come up in the later books.

Next up, Blood of Amber. I can't wait til later so I can get started on it.

message 18: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments Super! Glad you're enjoying it. Did you read the "Prologue"?

message 19: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) Yes, but I had no idea what I was reading, LOL But later, it made understanding Frakir much easier.

message 20: by Mir (new)

Mir | 21 comments I liked the Merlin series almost as much as the Corwin ones, except for the last book.

After the original Earth Sea trilogy I've only read Tehanu, which I did not like. But it may be that if I had not been expecting/hoping for something closer to the originals I would have been okay with it.

message 21: by Jackie (last edited Nov 22, 2009 12:53PM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) I only liked the first book in Earthsea, after that they all sucked. I don't particularly like LeGuin's style or something. After Earthsea, I have given away some of the books I had of her's that I hadn't read yet and I don't regret it.

message 22: by Mir (new)

Mir | 21 comments Honestly, that trilogy was the only thing I liked by LeGuin, and it isn't a favorite. I don't know if it is a tone issue or what, but I always feel like she is preaching something at me...

message 23: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 84 comments I see that the prologue to Trumps of Doom is found in his Manna From Heaven collection. Is it not in the actual book of Trumps?

I don't have a copy yet, but the library has a first edition hardcover I can check out. I'm wondering if it will have the prologue or if I will have to look elsewhere to get it. Was it added later or is it included in the first edition?

message 24: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments The first US paperbacks, at least, didn't have the prologue in them, Chris. That sucked because I didn't even know about it until years after I originally read it.

I'm not sure which editions had it in there, but I thought the hardbacks did. Hopefully, the other Chris will swing by & tell us. I know I read it in one of the 'Collection' books & he was the editor.

message 25: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 84 comments Okay. If nothing else I can check that copy in the library for it. If it doesn't, I may see if I can find a newer edition on PBS.

message 26: by ckovacs (new)

ckovacs | 142 comments The prolog first appeared in the limited edition, slipcased hardcover of Trumps of Doom, published by Underwood-Miller. It did *not* appear in the regular first edition hardcover from Arbor House or in the Science Fiction Book Club hardcover, the reason being that the prolog was written exclusively for the limited edition as an incentive to buy it. When the paperback subsequently appeared the prolog wasn't included there either. It also wasn't included in the subsequent omnibuses The Great Book of Amber or The Second Chronicles of Amber. As far as I know, no official edition of Trumps of Doom in any format or language includes the prolog, except for the original limited edition.

But this is something I hope will be changed in the future, i.e. that the prolog will be restored to future edition(s) of Trumps of Doom. If NESFA Press obtains the rights to reprint Zelazny's novels then this will certainly be done.

For now your options to read the prolog are a) volume 6 of The Collected Stories which is due out from NESFA Press in a couple of weeks, b) the collection Manna from Heaven, c) the magazine Amberzine #4, published in August 1993, or d) as a bootleg text that you can find on-line if you search hard enough.


message 27: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 84 comments Thanks for that info, Chris. That's very helpful.

message 28: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments Thanks, Chris!

I haven't read it in one of the Collection books because it's not out yet! I guess I saw it in the TOC, then. I do own "Manna From Heaven", though. That's a tough book to find at a decent price. Not as tough as "Way Up High" (I missed that on EBay a few weeks ago because I was only willing to go to $100 or so!)

Books 5 & 6 of the Collected Works should be out soon. Is there an exact date in December yet? Any updated word on the 7th book? (Money is set aside in the budget & I'm eagerly waiting!)

message 29: by ckovacs (new)

ckovacs | 142 comments I can't give you an exact date on books 5 & 6 but it looks like they'll go on sale in the second week of December through the NESFA Press website. Exactly when depends upon the day that the books are received from the printer; the website ordering won't be activated before then. If you're waiting on Amazon or the like, it seems to take several weeks after that before they show the books as in stock. If I see it go live on the NESFA Press site, I'll try to post a message here if someone hasn't already.

By "7th book" you must mean the bibliography that I told you about, The Ides of Octember: A Bibliography of Roger Zelazny. It will show thumbnail images of every English-language Zelazny book cover (e.g. about 16 different ones for Nine Princes in Amber, for example), the covers from the first appearance for every story or poem (whether in magazine or anthology), and it will have detailed information about each book so that the first editions can be distinguished from later editions. Plus it is a complete listing of every Zelazny short piece title and every place it was published -- there are many non-fiction essays by Zelazny that we couldn't republish due to lack of space, plus there are other short pieces such as novel excerpts that weren't included in The Collected Stories either. The bibliography also includes lists of essays written by critics and scholars for anyone who wants to read up on what those people have said about Zelazny's writings.

That book is planned for release in time for the Boskone convention, Feb 12-14 in Boston. There will likely be a launch party to celebrate the release of the 6 books in the Collection plus the bibliography. Plus -- well, I shouldn't say anything yet, but if you go to the convention's main page ( and read down, you'll see that there is an interesting Zelazny-related premiere planned for that convention...

By the way, cover artist extraordinaire Michael Whelan will be in attendance at Boskone as will the co-editors and me. So if you anyone wants to get their copies of The Collected Stories signed by the artist or any of the editors, this would be your chance. Plus there's that other event that you can read about on the Boskone page.


message 30: by Jim, Keeper of the Pattern (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 975 comments Thanks, Chris. I'd love to go, but the chances of me getting to Boston are about nil. I don't travel much. That looks like it would be worth it, though.

Thanks for the update. I'll be getting the books direct from NESFA.

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