Thursday, November 29, 2012

amber i

The Great Book of Amber includes all ten books, in one giant volume and I've just pounded through the first five. I heard some good things about this book from my brother-in-law and his wife, and I bought a copy for one of my kids last year or the year before for Christmas, and it got no traction. SO... its up to me.

The Chronicles of Amber--as these stories are also collectively known--were written by Roger Zelazny between 1970 and 1991. The fifth book, The Courts of Chaos, which I just finished came out in 1978, so that must have been a long haul for those fans who read this series as it came out. I say that because the first five books are really a continuation of the same story, each book being an episode in the larger tale. I don't know if that will be the case for the second group of books, but it does seem as if I've begun another related story now in the sixth book: The Trumps of Doom.

My first impression was that I was getting into another Narnia-type epic, but it soon became clear that this isn't Narnia. Nor is it The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, or any of a number of other fantasy stories. Its more of a combination of fantasy and science fiction, and its targeted, it seems to me, at an older audience than Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. There is drinking and smoking on a level with TLOTR but it also includes sex, at least in the abstract, so it probably isn't something you'd want to read to your toddler. It does seem free of foul language however.

So, thus far, Amber is told from the first person POV, by a character that takes a little while to introduce. Zelazny takes his time sketching this protagonist, and eventually he kind of grows on you. It takes a while however, because the main protagonist doesn't tell us everything he knows and is thinking, and when he does tell us, he is sometimes wrong in his assumptions abput what is going on in the larger story. Zelazny uses this technique very effectively to spin a yarn that soon becomes very complex and its clear that a lot of thought and preparation went into this series.

I'm looking forward to what the second half of this tome has to offer.

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