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Nine Princes In Amber (1986)

Nine Princes in Amber (1986)

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4.11 of 5 Votes: 4
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0380014300 (ISBN13: 9780380014309)
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About book Nine Princes In Amber (1986)

TL;DR ReviewFine, whatever. 3 stars because it wasn't a total disappointment as I predicted when I first started.More reviews @ The BibliosanctumLonger ReviewNarrator: Alessandro Juliani | Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios (July 31, 2013) | Whispersync Ready: No\The 70s and 80s must’ve been a time to be alive if you were SFF author. Despite how I may feel about the books that came from that era, a unique crop of stories emerged from that time. Thanks to a recent Audible sale I was able to snag the first book in Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber series, which came recommended, from some people. I figured this could serve as my cautious first step into the series without committing to the omnibus.A man, Corwin, wakes in a hospital with no recollection of his memories. He knows that he’s been in a car accident that should’ve been lethal. However, he doesn’t know why or how the accident occurred. He knows that the medical staff in the facility he’d been confined to had been using too much sedative to keep him under for some reason. He learns that his sister has been paying for his stay, so it’s with this knowledge his adventure begins as he tries to remember who he is and complete the path to power that he’s begun. Corwin is an exiled prince vying for control over his homeland Amber, a version of earth from which all other earthly realities are imperfectly copied. Their father has been missing for years and thought dead. Only a few brothers are believed to have a reasonable chance of claiming the throne, including Corwin. The other siblings act as pawns in the game, changing alliances as needed, giving support to one brother over another as it suits them.When I started reading this, I wasn’t sure if I subscribed to the reasoning behind all this infighting between the siblings. On one hand, having the king’s children fighting over his throne is to be expected, but on the other hand, after a few revelations, I started asking, “To what end?” After about midway through the book, it started to feel like the real reason they’re fighting over the throne is because of the status symbol it’ll give them. I’m not sure if I even believe it’s worth all the effort they’re expending on it and each other. It’s petty and immature, and maybe that’s what Zelzany was going for–to show the fickle nature of these characters more than trying to get me invested in this story about a king’s abdicated throne and his warring children. People have fought for much less than a throne.I don’t think I ever became too attached to any character, least of all Corwin. Okay, maybe that’s not completely true. I do think the ending did wonders in making me feel like I could like Corwin more if I kept reading. Most of Corwin’s siblings, aside from a few, aren’t in the story long enough for them to matter to me. I found elements of the story more interesting than the struggle between the characters such as the explanation of the Pattern, learning more about the trumps (playing cards), the shadows, etc. Zelazny really excelled there with his take on the magic of this world. Most of my rating comes from the fact that I liked the ideas he used in the story, and I can actually see why writers are inspired by his work in that sense.The narration. Let’s see how I can condense this without falling into giggles. I’d read that these audiobooks are an improvement over Zelazny’s own self-narration of the story that existed for years. While I certainly have no quarrel with Alessandro Juliani, I can’t say that I cared for his narration of this book. It wasn’t terrible exactly. It just seemed strange, and it didn’t do the story any favors either. Some of the dated language sounded so stilted and silly coming from Juliani. His narration made it hard for me to take this story seriously, and that peppered my overall view of this book.I’m still on the fence about this one. Admittedly, I probably should’ve gotten the omnibus and just read the whole thing rather than taking it bit by bit like this. While I spent much of this book with one skeptical eyebrow raised, I did like the ending considerably. It felt like the book had finally reached a comfortable stride and I was just beginning to really get lost in the story when this first book ended, which means I’ll probably be reading the next book soon.

Based on the review of N. Trachta (thanks, Nate), I decided to plunge ahead with this one (what made this choice even better was when I found all ten stories in one anthology at a used bookstore!).A man wakes up in a hospital room, without memory of who he is or exactly how he got there. All he knows is that was badly injured and currently being drugged. After escaping the hospital, he discovers his sister, Flora, who tells him that his name is Corwin. He meets up with his brother, Random, who leads him to Amber, a mystical world, which unlocks his memory and reawakens his desire to rule over Amber.What I Liked:The first page really drew me in. We meet a man lying in a bed, realizing groggily that he is being drugged and has no idea who he is. I like how we learn about him at the same time he does (no long boring, unnecessary exposition here; it's all a part of Corwin's learning about himself and his history).Corwin is resourceful, sneaky, cunning, and rather likeable (even though, at the same time, he is unlikeable, if that makes any sense). He has flaws (lying, scamming, not caring for his siblings), but there is just something about him that makes you want to root for him.The story is excellent. It breaks the mold of science fiction and crosses boundaries. As I read, I felt that in some ways it was very fantasy; in others (particularly that it takes place in "current" times), it was very sci-fi. There is action, but there is also some character study. Overall, the effect is great and is convincing. And while the pace at the beginning was a little sluggish, it picked up quite a bit and became very engrossing (I didn't want to put it down!).Lastly, Zelazny does an outstanding job describing. He spends much time detailing the surroundings, what people are wearing, character's looks, etc. He paints a vivid picture of his vision and doesn't leave me confused about where Corwin is at any time.What I Did Not Like:Zelazny may have gone a little far in some of the descriptions. The biggest time I felt this was when Corwin first finds the cards of his siblings. A solid three or more pages is spent on what each is wearing, their appearance, etc. By the time I got to the 7th child, I was practically skimming the descriptions (after a while, they all started sounding the same).This next "problem" may be due to reading the book in snippets, but I felt that it took a long time for Corwin to realize who he was. Before he learns who he is, a good chunk of the book is spent with Corwin and Random traveling to Amber. Again, this could be because I read it spread out in chunks, but I thought I might mention it.Lastly (this is more of an interesting thing to note than a problem), it seemed like none of the characters could breathe without a cigarette. Of course, this was written in the 60's - 70's so that might explain the perpetual cigarette.Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:Da**, he**, and other mild profanities appear (nothing worse than a PG movie, I would say).Moire is described as being topless (although not in a sexual manner, more like a Xena Warrior Princess way). A couple sleep with each other (though "off-screen" and described poetically).When Corwin escapes the hospital, he uses a bludgeon to knock out his guard. Then he pulls a gun on the director of the facility. When Flora's home is invaded, Random and Corwin get to use swords and guns. Another scene includes a battle between Random, Corwin, and Julian. A storm on Amber leaves all the soldiers dead. A character's eyes are put out.Overall:Are you looking for some fun? A way to relax from the stresses of life? Something outside of the box? A little bit of sci-fi, a little bit of fantasy? A good place to start could be Zelazny's Amber books, particularly this one. A fun idea coupled with a unique setting gives this book an edge to stand the test of time (I mean, this was written way back in the day, after all). A great way to spend an afternoon or two.

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What a weird, weird book.Nine princes in Amber begins with the protagonist, Corwin, waking up in an hospital room, with no memories of himself or his past. Soon after that he realizes he's been drugged for days and flees the building, meanwhile collecting bits of informations about his former life.Within a few chapters he learns he's one of the nine living princes of Amber, the only true world (of which every other world is but a Shadow. Literally.) and that this makes him basically a god.These princes can, in fact, modify Shadow worlds with just a minor effort of will(but not Amber itself), travel freely between universes and do a number of other nifty things.The rest of the book covers, more or less, his struggles to regain his memories and win the throne of Amber itself, now held by Eric, one of his brothers.Too bad that, while having a great premise and being full of good ideas, the book fails (quite badly) to deliver.Its first and most obvious fault is that it's so very hasty: Corwin goes from "I wake up without knowing who I am" to "I single-handedly wage war to decide the fate of all the universes" in about 30 pages! It never takes time to build pathos or put some meat on the characters, and the result is that after a flying start the narration falls flat.The whole second half of the book is made almost entirely of battles resolved in one-line sentences.Just imagine a few dozen pages full of something like "We went there to fight A. Three hundred died. Then we fought B. Then C came and we fled. Then we fought C and a two thousand died."Another big point is that this book does a lousy job of explaining things. Don't get me wrong I love books where you have to figure out things yourself, but here there's just a lot of random stuff thrown at you that you're supposed to take as a given.Why are the princes so powerful? What allows them to change reality? Why can they change some things and not others? Why on Earth do they all want Amber's throne? (since they could create an infinite number of worlds perfectly identical to it by simply wishing it) Why doesn't gunpowder burn in Amber? (while matches work perfectly instead) The list could go on and on and on. At times you are given pathetic explanations on the lines of "Princes of Amber can change reality because they can". Why thank you very much, Mr. Zelazny.Plot resolutions are often plain ridiculous and lack any logic. At some point in the book there's a battle on this loooong and narrow staircase climbing a mountain. These stairs are so narrow that only the two soldiers on the front can fight, and everyone else (we're talking a few thousands on each side) just stands there watching.No one takes a bow, nor throws a fucking rock for that matter.I'd write more about such plot holes but I don't want to make spoilers and I think I made my point already anyway. Last but not least, the language is a mix of archaic English and 70s slang. If ever there were any doubts that the two are not meant to go together, Nine princes in Amber wiped them away.Apart from being very VERY annoying, this quaint (for want of a better and non offensive word) linguistc mix makes absolutely no sense.Just think about it: our Earth is but one of an infinite number of Shadow world of which most characters (which, remember, are immortal gods) barely suspect the existence.. why the hell would they use American Idioms?? A couple times is mentioned how they are actually speaking Amber's language.. and I must say I'm really, really curious as to how does "I dig thy stuff, brother" translate in Amberian(can't remeber the actual name).The language is not the only part pervaded with random elements of American culture; the princes, for example,just can't help smoking about 20 packs of (branded) cigarettes per page. Where do they get them? No idea.I was constantly reminded of an uber-cheesy sci-fi movie from the 70s.It's not an entirely terrible book and it holds some very cool concepts, but I hardly find it deserving all the praise it gets.

How disappointing.The first chapters were 4 stars awesome. I was hooked instantly and delightfully surprised. Seeing as this book was written in the 70's, I expected the usual LOTR fantasy style novel. Slow start, simple heroes, old-fashioned setting. Instead, I got a fast paced beginning with a modern unusual protagonist. At first, I enjoyed his aloof tone and the mystery. However, as the mystery unraveled, really quickly I might add, the detached dialogue started getting on my nerves. The fast pace also bothered me. As a novella, I might understand why the author would rush, but this is fantasy epic spanning a number of books. The rushed confusing scenes dampened my interests. And I remained uninterested until the end of the book.A number of things the characters did, didn't make sense to me. All of them. The characterization was terrible. Really bad. They did not seem like real people and their actions were not supported by any concrete motivations, it made the whole thing seem unrealistic and weak.I have given it a 3 star due to the promising start. I still have hopes for this series. Will pick up the second book and make my final judgment then.

Originally Posted at FanLit.“I’d get what I needed and take what I wanted and I’d remember those who helped me and step on the rest. For this, I knew, was the law by which our family lived, and I was a true son of my father.”When Corwin wakes up in a private hospital after driving his car over a cliff, he has no idea who he is. When he realizes that he has healed too fast and that he’s being drugged so he’ll stay unconscious, he decides that he better find out what’s going on.The truth is strange: Corwin is one of the nine princes of Amber, the one true world, but for centuries he’s been exiled in the Shadowland we call Earth. The accident has actually dislodged the spell that his brother Eric was using to keep him out of Amber because Corwin is the biggest threat to Eric’s sovereignty there.Nine Princes in Amber is the first (rather short) installment in a long epic that describes, from Corwin’s perspective and later his son’s, the struggle of his family to deal with both their internal treacheries and the evil forces that assail them from the forces of Chaos. In Nine Princes in Amber, Corwin must figure out who he is, assess his resources, gather some allies, wonder whether his father is dead or alive, and make a move on the throne of Amber. Here we learn what Corwin has been doing for centuries on Earth, meet several of his siblings, discover the way in and out of Amber, meet a race of people who live under the sea, and discover some of the special powers of Corwin’s family.Ah… Corwin’s family… if you can call them a “family.” Corwin’s own description for them is “Machiavellian,” and that about covers it. Corwin and his brothers and sisters are clever, sophisticated, sarcastic, and extremely ambitious. They constantly scheme and plot to outmaneuver each other as they vie for political power. If you knew these people in real life, you’d probably hate them, but in Zelazny’s hands they’re kind of charming. These are people who plan to live forever, have the ability to design their own worlds to plunder, are incapable of trust, and have no reason to think about anyone other than themselves. In the end, Corwin rages against his brother and makes a rash decision that will negatively affect Amber’s future.THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER was highly imaginative when it was published in the 1970s and it remains fresh and original today. The magic system is creative, Zelazny’s writing style is solid, the story is fast-paced, exciting, and mature. Plot twists and cliffhangers make it hard to stop reading. You’ll definitely want to have The Guns of Avalon, the second book in the series, ready to go as soon as you finish Nine Princes in Amber.Nine Princes in Amber is a re-read for me because Audible Frontiers has recently produced THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER on audio — something I have been waiting years for. They’ve chosen one of their best narrators for Zelazny’s most famous work: Alessandro Juliani. He’s got the perfect voice and style to play Corwin, so I’m really pleased with this production. If you’re an audio reader, you’ll definitely want to download this classic!
—Kat Hooper

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