The world created by Zelazny is very interesting and original. An endless number of parallel worlds are the shadows (reflections) the only true and real amber. The farther the shadow is, the more they differ from the original. Power over the shadows have only the offspring of the Royal family of amber. They can reach in the parallel worlds of infinite power, but what is authority only in the reflection of reality?
This is the origins and the main conflict: the king of amber Oberon disappeared and his children are locked in a fratricidal war. Kindred feelings do not have it matter in the slightest, no brothers or sisters, there are only allies or enemies. But seemingly, at first glance, the simple struggle for the throne really was a confrontation between the forces of Order and Chaos. And the story describes all these events was very exciting. Expertly supported Zelazny intrigue didn’t let go until the last pages. There were moments when it seemed that everything is already becoming clear, but then BAM and everything is flipped upside the head.
The main character is Prince Corwin, and his face is the narrative. He’s not the best swordsman, not the strongest, not the smartest, but the most human of the entire Royal family of amber. He passed a long and difficult path. First fought for the throne, then was bent on revenge, but in the end there was only a sense of duty. Zelazny bypasses the usual cliches of the genre, and creates Corvina is not a godly knight, but a very practical man, in many respects contradictory, is not devoid of defects and shortcomings. He is cruel and sentimental, something godly, something insidious.
Other characters get less interesting and realistic. In the first books their characters were not disclosed, they are described sparingly and emotions are not aroused. During the development of the plot, this hole was filled up, and by the end of the Pentateuch they were alive. Very pleased that Zelazny ossified no villains or Dobryakov, the relationship to many of the characters varied greatly, when it became clear their motives.
The Zelazny style not subdued. I don’t dare judge, it is bad, or good, but personally I did not like. Descriptions of landscapes, travel through shadows, occupying a considerable part of the Pentateuch, too naturalistic. Perhaps they had to contribute to the greater immersion in the world, but just annoying. I recalled the words of Robert Louis Stevenson for this reason. Parodying the style of writers and naturalists, he quotes: “Roland came to the house. The house had green shutters and doors. On the top of the stairs was an iron shackle Shoe” and adds: “To hell with Roland and the iron brace!” Despite the presence of detailed descriptions, the amber, the eternal city, has turned dull and lifeless. One gets the impression that apart from pretenders to the throne there’s no one and nothing. Sorry for the tautology, but amber seems to be only a shadow of his own shadow – new York city, depicted on the procedure realistic.