Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review: The First Chronicles of Amber

Okay. I'm going to admit something here that I will probably never fess up to again. I cheat to get my book count up for the year sometimes. This book is proof.

My yearly reading goal, set for myself by myself, is 100 books. This is not a novels only goal. This is a BOOK goal. If it was published, as a book, it counts. Comic books/graphic novels count, as do nonfiction works, and even novellas. I've counted picture books in the past. If I take the time to READ the work, then it counts in my READING list.

This book encompasses the first "cheat" I've employed this year to get my book count back up. I'm still behind by 9 book, yes, but not by 12 like I was before embarking on this journey into Amber.
The First Chronicles of Amber is an omnibus of the first FIVE books in this series by Roger Zelazny. It was published by the Science Fiction Book Club a long time ago and when I was in high school, or thereabouts, I was a member. I bought this book thinking it sounded interesting. And because it had five books under one cover.

Well, I finally got around to reading it. All five of them. And for the sake of clarity, I am listing them on Goodreads as each individual one, despite writing the review for the omnibus.

The five novels within the omnibus are:
 Nine Princes In Amber starts as a sort of mystery. I was confused as to what was happening mostly because the main character was confused. Zelazny unfolds the world of Amber by presenting us with a man who has just woken up from a very long drug-induced bout of amnesia. We are finding out everything about this character just as he is learning it himself. Corwin eventually frees himself from the hospital and makes his way to his sister's house. We learn that they are part of a superhuman family from another dimension/world and there is a power struggle happening between the siblings. Some have taken sides, others have gone missing.

This is pretty much the plot line the entire series will take, I think. Brother against brother, faction against faction. No one knows who to trust and doesn't trust anyone until it's absolutely necessary to seek help.

The books flow very quickly, but they are less than 200 pages each. I know I read them all in less than 3 days at work. Lots of reviews have said that they all feel like chopped up bits of a single novel and I think this is true.

There were certain parts I enjoyed more than others, as evidenced by my 3 or 4 star ratings on individual books, but as a whole I would say that these are quite good. I wish Goodreads let you give half star ratings, because this book could definitely use one.

I might seek out The Merlin Cycle eventually, which encompasses the last five books in the series. This first set is considered The Corwin Cycle, since the main character is the brother Corwin. Makes sense, doesn't it?

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