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Sign Of Chaos (1991)

Sign of Chaos (1991)

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3.77 of 5 Votes: 5
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0380896370 (ISBN13: 9780380896370)
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About book Sign Of Chaos (1991)

The Sign of Chaos, the third book in the Cycle of Merlin, and the eighth of ten on the Book of Amber, begins with Merle trapped in a Wonderland Bar with Luke (Rinaldo), the Cheshire Cat, Humpty Dumpty, and a very pissed off Fire Angel from Chaos. Discovering his predicament to be the result of a drugs Luke has been exposed to, Merle conjures pharmaceuticals from the shadow and leaves him to sober up.Defeating the angel is no easy feat, the creature being conjured from Chaos and having three hearts, but Merle manages it, somehow, hardly worse for wear. Unfortunately, that isn't the end of his troubles. Women, sorcerers, siblings, and old enemies converge upon him, to the point he hardly has time to take his boots off or get a bite of food. Sign of Chaos capitalizes on the set-up from the two previous books with constant action and intrigue, and with lots of previously peripheral characters coming forward for interesting developments in the complex politics within the family of Amber. Vialle and Llewella, in particular, play interesting roles, and I was happy to see a host of other female characters receiving equal treatment (without sleeping with our progressively sympathetic and intriguing main character, Merlin).It was clear from page one that when Zelazny sat down to write this book, he was inspired. Interestingly, this was also the point (halfway through the cycle), that he caught his second wind in the Cycle of Corwin, with Sign of the Unicorn, so I am feeling optimistic about the final two books in the series. In fact, I had a very hard time putting this one down, and if I hadn't of already stayed up until 4am for two consecutive nights before, I would have stayed up late finishing this one last night, too. The writing is powerful, the characters compelling, and there is a general charm to the narrative that is hard to ignore. I love that Merle got a healthy dose of character development and self-awareness, and there were little touches of intrigue all throughout that made me giddy and excited (I won't spoil them here).It's been a while since Zelazny's books inspired quote-grabbing, but I have a couple that really stood out to me. If there is one thing that I can say about Zelazny, is that when he finds the moment, he can pull off first person beautifully, in the way I feel it should always be done––retrospective, intimate, and questioning:"If you had a choice between the ability to detect falsehood and the ability to discover truth, which one would you take? There was a time when I thought they were different ways of saying the same thing, but I no longer believe that. Most of my relatives, for example, are almost as good at seeing through subterfuge as they are at perpetrating it. I'm not all that sure, though, that they care much about truth. On the other hand, I'd always felt that there was something noble, special, and honorable about seeking truth––a thing I'd attempted with Ghostwheel. Mandor had made me wonder, though. Had this made me a sucker for truth's opposite?"And, after Merlin speaks with his brother Mandor, upon escaping Luke's acid trip:"Someone with a high-powered subconscious might have had a brilliantly revelatory dream following as much crap as I'd been through recently, and then have awakened with a wonderful series of insights and answers detailing appropriate courses of action. I didn't. I woke once, in a small panic, not knowing where I was. But I opened my eyes and satisfied myself on that count and went back to sleep. Later––much later, it seemed––I returned by degrees, like some piece of flotsam being pulled higher and higher onto a beach by wave following wave, until finally I was there. I saw no reason for going any further until I realized that my feet hurt. Then I sat up and pulled my boots off, which might have been one of the six greatest pleasures in my life."Among other little pearls that say so much about the characters:"I passed Luke his weapons belt and he buckled it on. I knew that she knew that I just wanted to talk to him alone for a few minutes. And she was certainly aware that I knew it. And we both knew she trusted me, which brightens my existence, as well as complicating it."In short, I really enjoyed this one, which makes four of eight, so far, that have really compelled me as a reader (those being Nine Princes in Amber, Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon, and now Sign of Chaos). Two more novels to go (those being Knight of Shadows and Prince of Chaos) before I make an overall review (including a few complaints I have about the physical omnibus).

They just get worse and worse and worse. The only explanation I can come up with is that Zelazny fancied himself a storyteller rather than an author, so that it makes sense to:-Introduce new major characters for no reason-Slow down for stupid detail every single wrong time-Make up stupid rationales for everything so that he can have stupid stuff happen the way he imagines it would be cool to have happen even though nothing makes sense-Always have everyone refuse to explain to anyone else what is going on no matter what, including the readers. This is supposed to create tension but instead creates boredom and revulsion.-Bring back dead characters all the fucking time, so that death doesn't ever mean anything.The third is the worst.There was one part where his newfound brother yelled at him and told him he was stupid. That part was great. Then for the rest of the book he and everyone else did really stupid irresponsible things over and over and over again. Also all the characters will fuck anyone any time, take a nap, or eat a huge meal and drink a shit ton of wine no matter what else they're supposed to be doing, but they won't, say, tell each other about what's going on or even return a Trump call. Man I kind of liked Zelazny when I read that Hindu/Buddhist one, but boy, this is some shit. It's like the stupid shit that Stephenson pulled, getting all self-indulgent and idiotic. The things that you think are cool aren't the things that are cool and your confidence is alienating.

Do You like book Sign Of Chaos (1991)?

Sign of Chaos stands as an improvement over the previous Amber novel, even if it's not quite up to the caliber of the Corwin cycle novels. The muddled storyline begins to become clear as enemies are named, motives are set, and decisions are (finally!) made. Zelazny did a much better job of keeping my attention with some fantastic action sequences and a twist that I should have seen coming.This book solidifies the theme of the Merlin cycle novels as that of an arms race for weapons and artifacts of magic. While entertaining, I can't help but find myself asking what's the point? I can see why Zelazny chose this direction: he may have felt that he had already covered the family power struggle trope and had nothing else to say on the matter. Whatever his reason for the change in theme and tone, I hope that he can continue the momentum he developed in this book and bring it home with an ending that tops The Courts of Chaos.

Merlin continues on his quest to find out who has been trying to kill him for years and why. Along the way, we find out more of his backstory, in particular the bits involving his half brothers Jurt and Mandor. More illegitimate spawn of the Amber family pop up, as does Merlin's mysterious body-swapping aide. What do all of these things have to do with the Keep of Four Worlds?I'm over halfway through the second Chronicle of Amber and I have to say I'm not as captivated by it as I was the first five books. While I find aspects of Merlin's mystery as interesting or more intersting than Corwin's, such as the Ghostwheel and the pattern Corwin created, I feel like the first five books are getting watered down. Too many people are walking the Pattern and too many are able to create trumps.That's not to say Sign of Chaos is a bad book. It's full of the intrigue that makes the Amber books great. Merlin isn't a carbon copy of his father, which is refreshing. The Amberites are true to form in their double dealing. Despite some minor gripes, I'm ready to find out what happened to Corwin and what will happen to Merlin, Julian, Mandor, and the rest. On to book nine!
—Dan Schwent

The story of Merlin, son of Corwin from the first 5 Amber novels, continues. I really should just cut-and-paste one of my three previous reviews of the Amber novels here and be done with it. Most characters carry over from the previous novel and that left me completely baffled at the end of this one. I'll try not to give away any spoilers, but stop now if you don't want to hear anything. At the end there is a huge climatic scene where a certain individual's identity is revealed. The character says, "I can't believe it's blank." My first thought is "Who is blank?" I had no idea! I did take a bit longer to read this one than previous books, but still. I thought about it, still no idea. I looked it up. No idea. Luckily I had the next book in the series to go to, because I knew the next one would start where this one left off. I think this character was mentioned once or twice in this book. Once I realized who it was then it made sense, but there are so many characters, situations and scenes that I was like "huh?"

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