(My bookshelf. I have a whole section devoted to Roger Zelazny novels I collect)
“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”
— Stephen King’s, The Gunslinger
Lately, I’ve been re-reading Roger Zelazny’s classic series, the Chronicles of Amber. It’s Roger Zelazny’s most well-known series, and I enjoyed it years ago, but lately I decided to read it again.
The basic story is this: there is only one true world: Amber. Amber “casts” infinite shadows of itself, and these worlds all resemble Amber. Some resemble Amber very closely, some only a little. Our earth is a shadow of Amber. Also, some things on our Earth are different than Amber, for example gunpowder doesn’t work in Amber, and the sky is a somewhat different color.
The world of Amber is ruled by a royal family that is almost god-like. They can live forever, heal severe damage to their body (eyes, missing arms, etc), have super-human strength, use magic, etc. Also, when a member of the royal family dies, their death-curse is extremely powerful and always works. But the most important ability they have is to be able to walk through shadow worlds whenever they want. The process is described as concentrating on where you want to go, and slowly adding or subtracting things around you until you reach the world you want.
Because the royal family is so powerful, and rules Amber plus all shadow worlds, there is a lot of competition between the members of the royal family, and they often distrust each other and try to sabotage one another, though they are all loyal to Amber itself. There are currently nine princes of Amber, and four princesses, and the King of Amber has mysteriously disappeared.
In the first story, one of the princes, Corwin, awakes from a car accident on Earth (our Earth) can can’t remember what happened. Eventually he meets some of his other family members, and discovers that one of his brothers has taken the throne while his father is missing. As Corwin restores his memory, he decides to launch a war against Amber to take the throne for himself, and what happens afterwards is quite interesting to read.
Anyhow, it’s a fun concept to think about: is this world we live in a shadow of another one? If so, what is the true reality?
If you do enjoy Fantasy books, I highly recommend the Amber series, especially the first five books. If you do read the Amber Chronicles, I highly recommend the Visual Guide to Castle Amber as it does a nice job showing maps of Amber, drawings of the different characters, and other interesting bits. It’s not in print anymore, so you may have to find a used copy instead, or even a collectible one.