Book reviews / Fantasy

Book review: Nine Princes in Amber

So Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny is part of a whole suite of novels about a place called Amber. I don’t know if I’m going to bother with the rest.

So Amber is the true world, all the rest of the world’s (including this one) are just shadows of Amber (it’s a bit Plato’s cave). The princes and princesses of Amber have the ability to travel through and to the shadows. The book comes down to basically 3 plot points:

  • Corwin (the protagonist) getting his memory back
  • Corwin and his brother Bleys attacking their brother Eric to challenge for the crown of Amber
  • Corwin escaping from prison

This all happens quite fast because it’s only about 150 pags long. At the same time, it happens over a series of years, so it’s a bit disorientating.

Anyway, it was all very vague and I was a bit bored most of the time reading it. Corwin is all jaunty and self-assured but for the first 50 pages he was bluffing that he knew he was – so the dialogue is a bit bland. Then it turns into about 70 pages of fighting and then a finale of pacing back and forth in a prison cell.

And it has totally failed the test. All the princes of Amber are ally vying for the throne while all their sisters are not. They are either pawns of other princes or as one put it ‘they lacked ambition’.

As well, almost all the brothers uniformly refer to their sisters as bitches throughout the book. Even all the brothers have something positive about the other brothers (even if they are duplicitous) but the women in the book are basically non-existent. You could write them out and it would make no appreciable difference to the direction of the story. Including the woman Corwin sleeps with – which I think was just a device to show how dashing a character he is. However, it just served to make me more annoyed with the book.

Maybe it gets better in the next 8 books but I don’t think I’m going to bother. It was a bit all swagger with no substance. 2/5 stars.

This is really sad as I completely loved Lord of Light and was hoping for something as good.

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