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The Chronicles of Amber (The Chronicles of Amber, #1-5)
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Book Discussions > The First Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

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message 1: by Andrea (last edited Dec 11, 2018 05:11AM) (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments This is our discussion hub of the series...

The First Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

Please comment of each individual novel in it's own topic in First Chronicles of Amber discussion folder (Links to each novel's topic in the Table of Content below.) You can use this topic for general discussions of the series as a whole.

Since this works a little differently from an anthology read, as we'll read one book a month from the series, please clearly tag any spoilers if you read some books in advance. Each month I will post a new individual thread.

Also, the Chronicles of Amber comprise 10 books, but we voted to read just the first 5.

CONTENT

Nine Princes in Amber (Amber Chronicles, #1) by Roger Zelazny Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
The Guns of Avalon (The Chronicles of Amber #2) by Roger Zelazny The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
Sign of the Unicorn (The Chronicles of Amber #3) by Roger Zelazny Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelazny
The Hand of Oberon (The Chronicles of Amber #4) by Roger Zelazny The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny
The Courts of Chaos (The Chronicles of Amber #5) by Roger Zelazny The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) All roads lead to Amber...


message 3: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 65 comments You can tell this was written in the seventies, there is a lot of smoking.


message 4: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments Wonder what they put in those cigarettes, that road to Amber was pretty trippy...


message 5: by Isabella (new)

Isabella | 67 comments Andrea wrote: "Wonder what they put in those cigarettes, that road to Amber was pretty trippy..."

I haven't started yet but read these books a long time ago and from what I remember, most of Zelazny's stuff reads as if he was partaking of some interesting substances either before or even during the writing process...


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments Andrea wrote: "Wonder what they put in those cigarettes, that road to Amber was pretty trippy..."

If you think that's trippy, try reading Creatures of Light and Darkness some time. It was an experimental piece he wrote for himself just before the first Amber book, but his editor or agent convinced him to publish it. It's very strange.

At the time, I think he was still a staid married man who had just quit working in Baltimore for Social Security & started supporting himself by writing exclusively. He was in a writing club with Haldeman, Chalker, & some other well known SF writers at the time, too. I've never read anything that said he was into drugs, but I certainly wouldn't rule out him trying them. He was very disciplined, though. He learned sword fighting to make his scenes better.

He'd also published & won an award for The Dream Master which had very strange scenes, but he was always a pretty strange author. He read a LOT & loved to create atmosphere with allusions to mythology, folklore, & classics. He really wanted to be a poet.

A lot of his books are weird structurally. Lord of Light is almost prosaic with the first chapter in the present, almost all the rest in the past working back to the present, & the last chapter the only part that continues into the future.

In Roadmarks, where the road runs through time, he had 2 time lines, but the only way we know that at first is the chapter is marked 1 or 2. He clipped all the time line 2 chapters together, threw them in the air, & put them in between the time line 1 chapters in random order. While I liked the book, it took me 2 reads to really get it & then I loved it.

In Doorways in the Sand, each chapter begins in the middle of the action, works back to the beginning & then ends on a cliff-hanger for the next chapter where the issue has been resolved, but you're not sure how for a while. It's terribly difficult to put down & a real hoot. It's an SF detective or murder mystery (sort of) story with some really quirky characters.

Today We Choose Faces is another SF murder mystery where he starts in the present, jumps way in the future, & the main character slowly reveals what happened in between as he tries to find the murderer.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Trippy is kind of his default.


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments Zelazny smoked. When he quit, so did his characters.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I'm a couple chapters in so far and really enjoying my re-read. I first read the original 5-book Amber series in high school in the 1980s after it was recommended to me by friends. I remember really enjoying it although not a lot of the plot has stayed with me. Mostly I remember the 2-3 page sections where he would "shift" to Amber. I read the first one thoroughly but skimmed all the rest of them.


message 9: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie | 7 comments Just started and am already really into it. Really like his writing and the way he draws me into it.


message 10: by Alan (new)

Alan Denham (alandenham) | 146 comments I remember really loving this when it was first published.
It hasn't lasted as well as I had expected - the '70s' feel Taj mentions above - but it is still pretty good!


message 11: by Kivrin (new)

Kivrin | 454 comments This was always one of my favorite fantasy reads...since my early teens. I've read it many times. I'm trying to bring fresh eyes to it this time.

I must say I find the use of "dig" pretty jarring. Can you dig it?


message 12: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 65 comments A very enjoyable read. Looking forward to the next one.


message 13: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments Anyone else find it weird that Amber had cigarettes but no gasoline? :) The no gas made sense at first but when Corwin kept getting cigarettes sneaked into his jail cell I began to wonder. Tobacco is pretty specific to our shadow Earth's North America whereas oil at least should exist anywhere plant matter decomposes. Just nitpicking :)


message 14: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 65 comments Since gunpowder does not explode in Amber, maybe petroleum products don't work the same way, either.


message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments Cars quit working the closer they get to Amber. It's mentioned in several places. They can change them, but well before the Forest of Arden, they quit. A variety of luxury goods have well established pipelines right to the palace, so it's not surprising that cigarettes are available.


message 16: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments Jim wrote: "Cars quit working the closer they get to Amber. It's mentioned in several places. They can change them, but well before the Forest of Arden, they quit. A variety of luxury goods have well establish..."

Interesting, I thought the car stopped working because they ran out of gas and there were no more gas stations, not that it didn't actually work anymore.


message 17: by Kivrin (new)

Kivrin | 454 comments Ugh! I always shudder at what Eric does to Corwin! I hated him for that. My memories of this book are very vivid especially this section.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Kivrin wrote: "Ugh! I always shudder at what Eric does to Corwin! I hated him for that. My memories of this book are very vivid especially this section."

I had completely forgotten about that part. I'm finishing this one today.

Did someone say this book had originally been written as a stand alone? I can't remember where I heard that. While I'm reading it all I can think of is how many seeds are planted for future books.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) By the way, are we going to discuss all 5 books in this thread, or will there be separate threads for each book?


message 20: by Cat (new)

Cat | 343 comments Randy wrote: "Kivrin wrote: "Ugh! I always shudder at what Eric does to Corwin! I hated him for that. My memories of this book are very vivid especially this section."

I had completely forgotten about that part..."


Jim said it on the 'What are you reading this month' thread when I said that I'm too impatient to read the next one (I've been very good and restrained myself from reading it yet). I agree with you Randy - I really can't see it as a standalone. I think I would have been so frustrated if it was standalone


message 21: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments Randy wrote: "Did someone say this book had originally been written as a stand alone?..."

I wrote that & I was wrong. He wrote this book & thought it was the first of a trilogy, but left the number open ended. There were some issues & it took a lot longer to get around to the second book. That's why there are some issues like with Eric's mother between the first book & the rest.

So I don't screw up any more, it's probably best to read it for yourself here:
http://www.nyrsf.com/2012/07/suspende...

I think I've mentioned that Chris, the author of the above article, is a member of the Zelazny group & you can probably ask him a question there, if you want. (The group is pretty dead, since there's not much to say after a while since Zelazny is, too.) Chris is also one of the editors of NESFA's Collected Works of Roger Zelazny which is a 6 volume set with a 7th book as a bibliography. It's a really great collection & the cover art is fantastic.


message 22: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments Warning, the first part of the article I just linked to doesn't have spoilers, but it does have some further along. It might be worth reading anyway since Chris gets into the less obvious aspects of the stories, not just the adventure facade.


message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 23, 2018 06:22PM) (new)

Randy wrote: "By the way, are we going to discuss all 5 books in this thread, or will there be separate threads for each book?"

I believe Andrea's intent is that the first book be discussed in the topic she cleverly named Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (as she indicated in the first message of this topic, in the way we discuss individual stories in an anthology each in its own topics.) A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents.

I expect The Guns of Avalon will get its own topic come Oct 11.


message 24: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments G33z3r wrote: "I expect The Guns of Avalon will get its own topic come Oct 11."

Yep, my idea is to set it up like the anthologies work, but with each individual thread popping up once a month instead of all at once. This being the thread to discuss the series a whole (which is not so easy to avoid spoilers give how long it will run and people may jump ahead of the monthly reads, but so far so good)

BTW, feedback on how this is working is welcome. It's the first time we're doing a series read and if we like it, we'll probably want to do more, so good to find out if something doesn't work well.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Jim wrote: "I think I've mentioned that Chris, the author of the above article, is a member of the Zelazny group & you can probably ask him a question there, if you want. (The group is pretty dead, since there's not much to say after a while since Zelazny is, too.)"

But not completely dead, since I think a new member joined recently...


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I started Sign of the Unicorn this weekend and I'm enjoying it so far. Is the Ganelon character meant to be the same from history who supposedly was a traitor in the Matter of France? If so does that mean Corwin is supposed to have been Charlemagne?


message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments Randy wrote: "I started Sign of the Unicorn this weekend and I'm enjoying it so far. Is the Ganelon character meant to be the same from history who supposedly was a traitor in the Matter of France? If so does th..."

I never thought to look into the name before. That's a really cool idea. I looked up the name on Wikipedia here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganelon


message 28: by Book Nerd (new)

Book Nerd (book_nerd_1) | 154 comments Randy wrote: "I started Sign of the Unicorn this weekend and I'm enjoying it so far. Is the Ganelon character meant to be the same from history who supposedly was a traitor in the Matter of France? If so does that mean Corwin is supposed to have been Charlemagne?"
Probably. They're all supposed to have been various figures throughout history.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Found this great quote online that I thought I'd share:

"I had been working on a project with another science fiction writer in New Mexico, George R. R. Martin. George gave me some papers on the project to look over. Shannon [Roger’s daughter, age six at the time] came over while I was working and asked me what I was looking at. I said, “These are some ideas George has given me.”

Sometime later, a local newspaper reporter asked Shannon if she knew where I got my ideas. She answered, “George R. R. Martin gives them to him.”"


https://www.tor.com/2016/05/19/a-few-...


message 30: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments Randy wrote: "Found this great quote online that I thought I'd share:

"I had been working on a project with another science fiction writer in New Mexico, George R. R. Martin. George gave me some papers on the ..."


:) That's cute


message 31: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments The Hand of Oberon is now up for discussion!

I find it amusing that GoodReads is giving me a different edition cover for each of the books, I see three different ones there.


message 32: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments The final book, The Courts of Chaos, is open for discussion now!


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Now that I've finished with the series I started reading

The Dark World by Henry Kuttner
The Dark World by Henry Kuttner

which is said to be one of the most prominent influences for Zelazny's Amber series. I've read and enjoyed only a few chapters so far, and it made me laugh to learn that the main character's name is (view spoiler).


message 34: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments Ok, got a general question here for you guys. I noticed a lot of people seem to shelve this book as SF (I didn't check anyone in the group, I just noticed it on the book pages). What aspects of the book do you feel are SF rather than Fantasy?

I've got some ideas (but want to see yours first), but personally, since Zelazny didn't try to push any scientific explanations on anything (and even the magical explanations were at times handwaving) I'm shelving this book as a fantasy...though on the other hand I wouldn't call any of the characters "wizards" even though that must be what they are if I assume they are using magic to manipulate Shadows/weather/etc.


message 35: by Cat (new)

Cat | 343 comments Nope, I shelved it as straight up fantasy. There weren't any SF elements for me - no science, no space, no tech, no trying to figure out the future of humanity/planet Earth (SF does it particularly well, although definitely not the only thing it does).

The characters don't need to be wizards or use magic. Actually I kinda liked that it was a magic that was just innate (to their family) and their skills were just how much they practised/bothered with it. It's a fantastical setting, although I guess you could see it as exploring the concept of multiverses although I think that was a byproduct rather than the main thing.


message 36: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments Cat wrote: "Actually I kinda liked that it was a magic that was just innate (to their family) and their skills were just how much they practised/bothered with it."

Me too. That's why I couldn't shelve it on my wizard shelf, they weren't so much using magic as they were doing something as natural to them as breathing.


message 37: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments I've got it on my fantasy shelf. Some people have told me they think of shadows as dimensions, especially in light of the next five books, & thus say it's got an SF theme. Shrug. I'm sure Zelazny wouldn't have cared. He didn't like being confined to genres as he proved with books like Jack of Shadows, the Francis Sandow books, & many of his short stories.


message 38: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 21, 2018 06:38PM) (new)

Cat wrote: "Nope, I shelved it as straight up fantasy. ..."

Me, three. You'd have to think pretty much all fantasy was scifi (Clarke's Law?) to see Amber as scifi.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Jim wrote: "Some people have told me they think of shadows as dimensions, especially in light of the next five books, & thus say it's got an SF theme...."

I think it can easily be read that way, but even that isn't enough for me to call it Sci-Fi. If that was the case we'd have to think of Feist's Riftwar books as Sci-Fi also, not to mention all the portal fantasies like Narnia, etc.


message 40: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments I agree, Randy. There's also a feel or style that differentiates the two genres. Amber feels like fantasy to me. Of course, so does his Lord of Light, but that's definitely SF for all the gods & demons.


message 41: by Book Nerd (last edited Jan 04, 2019 10:58PM) (new)

Book Nerd (book_nerd_1) | 154 comments So are we reading the The Second Chronicles of Amber?
I've already started Trumps of Doom.


message 42: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2178 comments Book Nerd wrote: "So are we reading the The Second Chronicles of Amber?
I've already started Trumps of Doom."


Did your edition have the Prologue? If not, I highly recommend finding & reading it before you get too far in. It was only included in the SF book club edition, but really should have been in all editions. I don't know why they didn't & it's just wrong. PM me if you have trouble finding it.


message 43: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2567 comments Book Nerd wrote: "So are we reading the The Second Chronicles of Amber?
I've already started Trumps of Doom."


I'll be reading it. Not sure when I plan to start it, but will be soonish. I decided of the series I started last year I would finish of Wrinkle in Time first, then move on to either Amber or Narnia.

Jim wrote: "Did your edition have the Prologue? If not, I highly recom..."

*checks* Nope, I've got a regular copy and it doesn't have any kind of prologue.


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