Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I didn’t know anything about Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles when I started in on the first book. Strangely enough, I was recommend the series by a woman that I interviewed awhile back. She said that Nine Princes in Amber was her favorite book so I added it to my “to-read” list a. Now I’ve finally read it and it was pretty darn good.
The story follows Corwin, one of several princes vying for the rule of Amber, a majestic city in an alternate reality. Corwin is no saint, but he’s a likable guy all the same and I quickly started rooting for him wholeheartedly.
Beyond that, I found the magic system to be very interesting. However, in Amber magic doesn’t seem like magic, it seems more like a fundamental part of reality, a reality that can be bent and manipulated. I thought the deck of cards was a particularly interesting part of that system. Each of the princes and princesses are able to communicate and travel to each other with these cards (more like tarot cards than playing cards), which is not only is that a cool concept, but also has a lot of potential as a plot device.
Zelazny’s writing has an interesting feel to it, a little rough around the edges, but to the point. My only gripe would be the abrupt ending. It felt like the story was just about to gear up to the climax, but it ended instead. I read this as part of an anthology (which weighs like 5lbs.) so I had no idea it was coming–I didn’t have the luxury of running out of pages.
Overall, I really liked the novel. It doesn’t have the same feel as a modern fantasy novel–if nothing else, it’s a lot shorter–but it has a lot of its own qualities that allows it to stand on its own against the test of time. This novel is pretty much a classic when it comes to fantasy so I would recommend it to anyone that considers themselves a fan of the genre.