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THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER [amb1+2+3+4+5]
(reprint) omnibus: 1979
Science Fiction Book Club January 1979 hardcovers (I'm not sure if there were later printings - these might be such since they are in such good shape.) Cover art by Boris Vallejo: same for each, with different background/framing colors. Condition for each book is Fine: both are tight and square; negligible age-tanning (excellent for any vintage); no stamps, marks or writing - they look new/unread. DJs are unclipped with little or no wear. Volume 1 DJ is the only one with any wear: 1/2" closed tear at bottom right of front cover, (blank) back cover has a faint scratch or scuff at top (I grade it Fine-minus.) Volume 2 DJ has no wear - it looks crisp and new (I grade it Fine+.)
The first five books in Roger Zelazny's "Amber" series - in 2 nice hardcover omnibus volumes: The Chronicles of Amber, Volume I, containing Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon, plus The Chronicles of Amber, Volume II, containing Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon, and The Courts of Chaos. I have seen a trade-paperback that has all 10 "Amber" books, and the SFBC did a single-volume editions of the first 5 and last 5 in 1999. I think both are bad ideas - these novels are worth re-reading several times. That trade-pb probably won't last through one reading before falling apart or looking badly worn, and the 5-book omnibus is just too thick - those tend not to last more than a single reading. For an affordable set that will stand up to a few readings - this is a good bet. (Good luck to you if you decide to track down the hardcover first editions or Gregg Press equivalents.)
Nine Princes in Amber: one of Zelazny's most famous novels - (the original hardcover came out in 1970.) Corwin, Prince of Amber, wakes up on the "shadow" Earth without his memories. Breaking out of the mental institution where he is being kept, he ends up with his sister Flora - but will she help him or is she his keeper? He is contacted by a brother - Random - who is pursued by near-human creatures from another Earth. Corwin realizes he can't trust all of his relatives, and does his best to conceal his ignorance, even as superhuman abilities are revealed and his world-view is continually expanded or exploded. Random tells Corwin they are both princes of Amber - the "true" world, from which all other worldlines are distorted reflections or shadows - and offers to help them travel to Amber, in a hair-raising journey through several strange or nightmarish worlds ("shadows.") During this journey, Corwin keeps recovering little bits of his lost memories - including the fact that he may be a major contender for the rulership of Amber, and that the rivalries involved may have led to his exile on the shadow Earth. More of the brother Princes are encountered, and every one has an agenda... This makes my personal "top 100" list, and I re-read my copy often.
Sign of the Unicorn (serialized in Galaxy January through March 1975.)
We start with another murdered sibling - and Corwin is set up to take the fall: notified to arrive too late, just in time to kill the killer, but have no witnesses to back his story. He has seen the killer before, or at least someone like him: chasing Random when he met him in the first Amber book. To clear his name, among other things, Corwin investigates the circumstances and reasons leading to Caine's death - not an easy thing in a family of powerful plotters, all with their own agenda. He attunes himself to the Jewel of Judgement, keeps digging into the past, and deals with one thing after another… not the least of which is Dara's threat to "destroy Amber" and various succession theories since Oberon is still missing… and finally ends up in a place that is the true Amber, as Amber is the source from which all other realities reflect.
The Hand of Oberon (serialized in Galaxy May, July, and September 1976.)
We begin in a place that is the true Amber - source to Amber, as Amber is the source from which all other realities reflect. Corwin, Random, and Ganelon were brought here for a purpose: "to determine how the Pattern was damaged and what might be done to repair it." The Black Road and its effects were caused by spilling the blood of a Son of Amber on the Primal Pattern. They find a clue which may indicate a son of Random had been lured here… (and killed?) Corwin keeps looking for reasons, clues…and get answers: like how Corwin came to be on the shadow Earth without his memory, how Brand is not only alive, but plans to destroy the Pattern and Amber and all reality reflecting from them - replacing it with his own design. And while Oberon is still missing, his presence is becoming stronger. One of my favorite parts of this novel was discovering that Roger Zelazny had written himself into his own series: as a guard named Roger, writing "a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity."
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