Book Review: Chaos and Amber

ChaosAndAmberby Amy Moler

 

Roger Zelazny’s Chaos and Amber
John Gregory Betancourt
ibooks, 318 pp.

Having been rather pleased with the first of Betancourt’s prequels, I started reading the next shortly after it came out. The latest is, in many ways, true to Zelazny’s form—it picks up practically right in the middle of a thought and within days of the previous book, chronologically. This time we get to see more of the Courts of Chaos and learn a little about their dueling forms. I found it minorly annoying that a lot of time seemed to be spent repeating descriptions of how Oberon perceived things in Chaos. However, this did serve the purpose of reinforcing his inability to integrate with the Logrus, but it was overkill in a few places. In this book, Oberon’s brother Aber finally gets a bit of fleshing out as a character. Dworkin spends most of his time away from the action, but is referred to quite a few times as Oberon tries to fathom the motivations behind some of his father’s actions and non-actions. And he does make a notable appearance near the end of the book. I did find it somewhat frustrating that even though we are learning much about Oberon, so secretive in Zelazny’s classic Amber novels, the same sort of treatment is now being applied to Dworkin. But then I suppose that’s rather true to Zelazny’s style too, as is having the book end literally in the middle of a sentence. I won’t tell you exactly what comes to pass but the unicorn is involved. All in all, I found this book as enjoyable as the previous one, and look forward to To Rule in Amber, which is due out in the fall.

 

Book Review: The Best of Pirate Writings, vol. 1

PirateWritingsby Michael D. Pederson

 

The Best of Pirate Writings: Tales of Fantasy, Mystery & Science Fiction, Vol. 1
Edited by Edward J. McFadden III
Padwolf Publishing, 219 pp.

Published in 1998, this Best Of collects stories from the first six years of McFadden’s highly acclaimed magazine, Pirate Writings. Don’t let the T&A cover fool you, this is a serious collection of stories from some of the finest writers in the genre; including Allen Steele, Paul Di Filippo, Esther Friesner, David Bischoff, Nancy Springer, Geoffrey Landis, Charles de Lint, and Roger Zelazny. McFadden has chosen thirty stories and poems to showcase in this volume (a second volume is set to be released this year) and they are, for the most part, all excellent choices. Some highlights: “Doblin’s Lecture” by Allen Steele and “Roadmaster” by Leland Neville are both startlingly unique stories of serial killers that grab you instantly. Roger Zelazny’s “Coming to a Cord” is an amusing Amber tale that takes place behind the scenes of the second series. And Paul di Filippo—one of my favorites—has two great whacked out surreal tales in here. “Bad Beliefs” is a fun exploitation of the “meme” concept, while “Leakage” is an old favorite of mine that would justify the purchase of this book on its own.

 

Book Review: Dawn of Amber

DawnOfAmberby Amy Moler

 

Roger’s Zelazny’s The Dawn of Amber
John Gregory Betancourt
ibooks, 416 pp.

Roger’s Zelazny’s The Dawn of Amber was released in September of 2002 by John Gregory Betancourt. Having been a devoted Amber fan of many years and having read all of the books in the series a number of times, I was both curious and slightly leery. Since Zelazny’s death I believed, like many fans I am sure, that there would be no further additions to the Chronicles. So when I received a copy for Christmas I dived right in, even though I was afraid that it would prove to be a hopeless and poorly executed homage to the Amber that we’ve all fallen in love with over the years. I was very pleasantly surprised. The flavor of the read was exceedingly true to Zelazny’s original books. Just like the new Dune series, this book is a prequel, picking up with the life of Oberon (Obere) in what appears to be his early twenties. Betancourt provides a great deal of background about Oberon’s early soldiering career and the discovery that Dworkin is his father. The main plot involves Dworkin showing up for a timely rescue of sorts for Oberon. A chase through shadows leads Dworkin, Oberon, and one of his half-sisters to the castle where Dworkin lives. Oh, shades of castle Amber! There are allusions to the layout of the place that smack so vividly of Zelazny’s Amber. And the introductions of Dworkin’s numerous children (all adults) is also incredibly reminiscent of scenes with Corwin and his varied siblings, with the same sort of alliances and rivalries seen in the later generation. Perhaps most interesting to me is the essential starting point of the “pattern” through which all future Amberites will walk and how it is related to the Logrus. In somewhat traditional Zelazny style, the end of the book ties up a certain number of threads and yet leaves you with cliffhangers on a dozen more issues. The dust cover of the book proclaims this to be the first of a prequel trilogy. I’m already looking forward to the next one.