SEPTEMBER - SPOILERS - Nine Princes in Amber

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SEPTEMBER - SPOILERS - Nine Princes in Amber

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1Morphidae
Set 1, 2013, 3:23 pm

I'll be reading this on my Nook in the next few days. I read this decades ago so don't remember much. A bunch of chase scenes, I think?

2fuzzi
Set 1, 2013, 8:59 pm

When your own siblings are trying to kill you, it's logical that there will be some chasing going on...

3calm
Set 3, 2013, 3:27 am

Like Morphy I read this decades ago, some scenes were familiar and I managed to read all of it yesterday. A very quick read, dated (all that smoking!) but still fun.

I'm pleased that I read it in the omnibus Chronicles of Amber as I want to go on with the story and remind myself of what happens next:)

4RowanTribe
Set 3, 2013, 7:48 pm

Oh god, eyeballs! *shudder* Yeesh, that scene will live with me all my days.

5sandragon
Set 3, 2013, 8:52 pm

Msg 4: 'Oh god, eyeballs! *shudder* '

Now you've got me extremely curious. I may have to join in this group read after all.

6Morphidae
Set 3, 2013, 10:02 pm

While the story is interesting enough, the characters leave a lot to be desired. I see no reason to root for Corwin over Eric other than he's the protagonist of the story. Nothing bad has been said about Eric other than "he's evil." Oh really? Why? And Corwin and Bleys are throwing away lives like they are nothing. How is THAT not evil?

7fuzzi
Set 4, 2013, 9:55 pm

One thing I am appreciating is how Corwin has developed compassion and lost some of his arrogance while spending centuries in Shadows. Remember how he deflected a shot by Random that would have killed someone while they were trying to get to Amber? He also did not kill Julian when he could have.

8bluesalamanders
Set 4, 2013, 10:39 pm

I reread this a year or two ago and was really disappointed. The idea of the world is still really cool, but yeesh, like you said, Morphy, the characters! It was irritating how the men were practically superheros and the women were all useless and weepy.

9tottman
Set 5, 2013, 12:02 am

I read this when I was a teenager so I decided to give it a listen on audible, I've got about an hour left. I'm happy it is still as good as I remember it. I remember the concept of all those shadow worlds was so mind-blowing to me the first time, and it's still a little awe-inspiring now. The concept of the cards, and the pattern are incredibly inventive.

I really like Corwin and I admire the way Zelazny was able to subtly make him sympathetic as fuzzi (>7 fuzzi:) pointed out with little things like displaying mercy to a couple of individuals, the blind girl and so forth, all the while condemning hundreds and thousands of creatures to their deaths in the armies and navies he's led to Amber. I am finding the recitation of battle losses a little slow.

I think Zelazny did a great job of letting you "discover" the world of Amber first through the recovering memories of an amnesiac and later as Corwin discovers his own nature has been altered by his centuries on Shadow Earth and he shares the nuances of viewing both Amber's history and its present from his newfound perspective.

If anyone is thinking of listening to the audio version, I'll also mention that the narrator is outstanding. His clipped way of speaking Corwin's voice took a little getting used to, but now it seems to fit, and he voices the other characters wonderfully.

10fuzzi
Set 5, 2013, 7:27 am

Nice overview of the book, tottman.

I finished Nine Princes of Amber last night. After reading Morphy's comments, I continued my read with an eye for Corwin's character.

I noted that this protagonist showed a concern for his conscripts, as any general would. War is an awful thing, and many lives are lost therein, but I never saw a wanton disregard by Corwin for those under his command. In fact, I saw much to the contrary.

And the interaction between him and Rein, with the background of his kindness to the minstrel, and the relationship between Corwin and Jopin, are more examples of Corwin's moral character.

On to book #2, anyone?

11majkia
Set 5, 2013, 7:43 am

I've read the series many times, so am listening this time. I agree on the narrator, Tad. I felt his voice for Corwin as a bit jarring at first. But I do like how he does Corwin after my initial surprise. I guess I always hear Corwin in my head as having a deeper voice.

And yes, the women are worthless one and all. A creature of his time, was Zelazny. Although in the later books there are a few women who are players rather than victims.

12gilroy
Set 5, 2013, 8:13 am

Maybe it's because I didn't read it when I was young, but frankly, this book didn't hold my interest. I read it in the omnibus so I read the first five, but I haven't found the ... joy... of reading it that others did.

Corwin is an ass.
Eric was a manipulative jerk.

The other siblings seemed like they were just there to be information dumps for the reader.

I think the only thing that I liked, the only enjoyment I got, was reading about the walk through the labrynth. No, not the labrynth, the pattern ... the crap, can't remember what it's called now.

13bluesalamanders
Set 5, 2013, 12:50 pm

I don't think "a creature of his time" is any excuse. It's simply weak writing. The women are supposed to be millenia old and practically gods, just like the men, and he couldn't be bothered to given them spines and brains.

14fuzzi
Set 5, 2013, 12:53 pm

Have you read the series, sally? There are at least two good, strong women I can recall, without having read it in a few years, decade?

And don't forget Moire, the ruler of the undersea city. She "don't play".

If the series were full of weak wailing wenches, I'd not bother with it.

15bluesalamanders
Set 5, 2013, 1:04 pm

Yes, I've read the series. It used to be one of my favorites, at least the first few.

What did Moire do besides sleep with Corwin?

16fuzzi
Set 5, 2013, 1:22 pm

Moire ran the city, she ruled over all her subjects.

She also "punished" Random for his fling with her daughter. She didn't roll over and say "Oh well..." when his philandering lead to a child, and the eventual suicide of her daughter.

I'm not getting all these negative aspects, even on my third/fourth/? reading of Amber. The sexism of Heinlein gets to me, but I don't see Zelazny being that way.

17bluesalamanders
Set 5, 2013, 1:34 pm

There's a difference between saying she ran the city and ruled her subjects and actually seeing her do it. I was never impressed by her punishment for Random, either - forced marriage? really? And did she ask the woman if this is what she wanted, or just decide the political benefits would outweigh any potential negatives of being married off to an unknown man with questionable morals? (Yes, I know what happens later, that's a whole separate set of issues.)

18DugsBooks
Editado: Set 5, 2013, 4:18 pm

I reread Nine Princes in Amber and agree with the weak female characters but if anyone wanted to make a movie/series from it some rewriting could make it a lot better. On the reread I noticed that one heck of a lot of "green screen" would have to be used also so maybe the minimum monetary outlay to get a project like that started with decent quality standards is pretty high.

19majkia
Set 5, 2013, 4:29 pm

I say 'creature of his time' primarily because back then SciFi was supposed to only be read by adolescent males who'd be frightened to death by strong women. Not true, of course, but that was the perception.

Even today I saw a lot of articles about HBO DARING to air GOT because, well, women wouldn't watch it in droves because, well, sci fi and fantasy only appeals to adolescent males. The statistics, when they came out showing how many women were indeed watching GOT amazed and astonished 'the experts' in such things. *snort*

20fuzzi
Set 5, 2013, 5:02 pm

Forced marriage is a pretty severe punishment...imho.

Anyway, I liked the book, and don't have the issues others seem to have.

Vive la différence!!

21DugsBooks
Set 5, 2013, 5:21 pm

#20 I agree it is an exciting well conceived story in the first book, especially the way Corwin slowly gets back parts of his memory in the beginning.

22majkia
Set 5, 2013, 5:26 pm

Fuzzi, I still love the series, mainly because it is so different in concept and in how we learn along with Corwin.

23bluesalamanders
Set 5, 2013, 6:31 pm

20 fuzzi - I agree, it's a severe punishment, but who's really being punished? Random, or the woman that Moire decides will benefit politically by being married off to a man that the only thing she knows about is that he got another woman pregnant and then abandoned her?

24fuzzi
Set 5, 2013, 7:08 pm

And that lady, Miss sally, is one of the stronger woman characters...but we won't get to know her until The Guns of Avalon...book two. ;)

to be continued...

25bluesalamanders
Editado: Set 5, 2013, 7:39 pm

I've read that too, yes. I've read the whole series.

26fuzzi
Editado: Set 5, 2013, 7:44 pm

DugsBooks, that's another good point.

Zelazny reminds me of CJ Cherryh: both of these authors don't "explain" their worlds, but let you discover them on your own, as you read.

27Morphidae
Editado: Set 16, 2013, 9:26 am

My micro-review:

The story was interesting enough, I just couldn't come to like Corwin. I think he heedlessly threw thousands of lives away and you never find out why he was against Eric or why you should root for him over Eric. To me, he was fighting against the rightful king because he gave me no reason to think otherwise other than "Eric is evil." Oh yeah? Why?

5 out of 10 stars

28majkia
Set 16, 2013, 10:47 am

well, the fact Eric put Corwin's eyes out and threw him in a dungeon rather than just kill him outright seems like a hint.

29Morphidae
Set 16, 2013, 11:57 am

That was AFTER Corwin attacked him. Again, no reason for the attack.

30tottman
Set 16, 2013, 3:58 pm

Except for exiling him to earth, giving him the plague, robbing him of his memory for centuries and then causing his car crash.

31RowanTribe
Set 16, 2013, 4:19 pm

I thought that making sure he caught the plague was an exceptionally nice touch, actually. :) It's the details that show you care!

I think that the scene where Eric blinds him and throws him in the dungeon is where I first started seriously wondering why on earth bad guys in fiction didn't dispose of their enemies permanently when they got the chance. I remember thinking that was an exceptionally bad idea, even if I didn't know HOW Corwin was going to get out of it, I knew somehow that revenge was going to be happening. (Otherwise there's no story, obviously.)

It's still amusing/irritating to me to see how often that happens in fantasy/sci-fi in particular, and how no one really seems to either notice or care. It bothered me enough that one of my most concrete writings is based around me working out a situation where the bad guy is FORCED to keep the hero alive, even though he really doesn't want to, because he is smart enough to realize it's a bad idea.

32Morphidae
Set 16, 2013, 5:51 pm

>30 tottman: I don't feel personal revenge is enough of a reason to allow the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

"I want to be king instead of you because you were mean to me."

There is nothing in the text of this book other than Eric being nasty to some members of his own family that shows him being "evil" and deserving of being overthrown. If there was, I probably would feel differently about the book. But since there wasn't, I don't.

33Jarandel
Set 18, 2013, 6:56 am

Well as I see it Corwin whether he likes it or not is seen as one of the valid contenders for the throne, and at least some of his other siblings won't leave well enough alone and still make attempts to assassinate him or restrain him when he's been wandering, lost and amnesiac, dedicated to other purposes entirely, very far away from Amber for centuries of local time. So it's kill or be eventually killed, or at the very least lose access to a place he remembers fondly and feels drawn to as his memory comes back.

I don't think he's supposed to be wholly nice and exemplary. Rather, somewhat alien but closer to human than some of his siblings, or than he might himself have been in the past. The bunch of them being near-immortals powerful enough to create their own private worlds, and everything in them down to the last blade of grass. While his and Bleys' shadow-soldiers are real enough to make a dent in the defenses of Amber, and he is shown to have some (reportedly atypical) minor qualms about leading them to slaughter, as the typical Amber scion would see it, he created them in a sense by searching for them in the Shadows and needing them to exist as they were.

Oberon's brood is conveyed to have been a basketful of crabs, some of them attempting to kill others even before the disappearance of Oberon (see mention of Julian's attempt when he was apparently still on good terms enough with Corwin for them to hunt together). Those children of Oberon who are/were pacifists are probably either already dead, made a better show at disappearing than Corwin did, or made themselves known as non-contenders fairly early on. Would they make for better points of view than Corwin ? Don't think so.

34RowanTribe
Set 18, 2013, 8:58 am

That's actually a good point - it's difficult to peg someone as morally lacking when in their experience, it's entirely possible and likely that after they send their soldiers off to their deaths, they can then go and wander in Shadow until they come to a place where those dead warriors have reincarnated, or reanimated, or live happily in a local equivalent of Valhalla. All they have to do is want it, and it happens.

From the point of view of the scions of Amber, shadow-people aren't "real" in the sense that family-members are. It's like me getting upset at my husband for kicking chickens in the Fable game. The chickens aren't hurting - they're just pixels and programs. It makes me unsettled, but I'm over-empathetic. Logically, I can be upset at him for causing ME to be unhappy, but I can't validly accuse him of animal abuse - there's no animal there to abuse.

The interesting question is whether kicking imaginary chickens leads eventually to kicking real ones. That we don't know for sure, but based on those siblings, I bet I know where Zelazny would vote.

35gilroy
Set 18, 2013, 9:24 am

Oh, but booting chickens in Fable was FUNNY!