Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Courts of Chaos: Roger Zelazny

The Courts of Chaos is the first book I have read for the Once Upon a Time challenge.


This book is part of a fantasy series, The Chronicles of Amber, written by Roger Zelazny. It is the last book in a five book series about Corwin, a prince of Amber. In a way it was disappointing because it was a slight book, compared to the others in the series. But it was a very fitting ending to the series.

I read The Courts of Chaos because this series is a favorite of my son, and I had read the previous four books earlier at his suggestion. Too long ago, in fact.

A description of the world created for this fantasy series at Wikipedia:
The Amber stories take place in two "true" worlds: Amber, and the Courts of Chaos, as well as the shadows that lie between them. These shadows, including our Earth, are parallel worlds that exist in the tension between the two true worlds of Amber and the Courts. The Courts of Chaos is situated in Shadow at the very edge of the pit of Chaos itself, a seething cauldron from which all that is or ever will be comes from.
Note: I caution you not to read the Wikipedia page about the entire series if you have any interest in reading the books. Wikipedia pages often include spoilers.

The first five books of The Chronicles of Amber follow Corwin's adventures, and his ups and downs with his family. That is putting it mildly, of course. He has many brothers and sisters and they are often at odds, seeking the power to rule Amber.

The story starts with Nine Princes of Amber, which was my favorite book in the series. In that book, Corwin is on the shadow Earth. The fourth book, The Hand of Oberon, I also liked a lots. The books really do not stand alone, except perhaps the first one.

Why did I take so long to read this conclusion to the series? It is less than 130 pages long. Had I read the book closer to finishing the 4th book, I am sure I would have enjoyed it more. (Although I have read some criticism in reviews that it jumps awkwardly into the story.)

A large part of this book consists of following Corwin on a hellride through the shadows, to get to the Courts of Chaos, to save the world of Amber. He meets a lot of non-humanoid lifeforms. They either try to help him achieve his goal or try to hamper him. There are some interesting philosophical conversations between Corwin and the creatures. When he gets to his goal, which was in question, the events and the final selection of a ruler of Amber brought the series to a satisfying conclusion.

This series is followed by another five books series, which are the story of Merlin's adventures. Merlin is the son of Corwin. I would recommend reading either series closely together rather than separating them by years like I did. The series would be more enjoyable that way.


My commitment for this challenge is to read at least five books during the three months of the challenge (March 21 - June 21, 2013) in the following categories: fantasy, fairy tales, folklore, and mythology. My plan is to stick with books in the fantasy genre. In addition, I will view one of the many theatrical versions of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Reviews for this challenge are at this Review Site; stop by and check them out.

4 comments:

  1. i found your link at the Once Upon a Time Challenge review site. I'm glad to see a review of one of the amber books. i discovered them late but found an omnibus edition somewhere and enjoyed it.

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    1. My son has a couple of omnibus editions. I am wondering how the Merlin books are.

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  2. I've been seeing this series around...sounds intriguing, might have to pick it up!

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    1. Cheryl, I really liked the first in the series. And you can probably tell from that it you would like the rest.

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