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Audiobook Review: Nine Princes In Amber, By Roger Zelazny

I know that Nine Princes In Amber is considered one of the great fantasy classics, but my reaction: Meh.

First off, I loved Alessandro Juliani’s skillful narration of this book, but I had a hard time caring about Corwin, the book’s narrator.

Written in a style frequently reminiscent of hard-boiled detective novels, awkwardly combined with the occasional bit of pseudo-Elizabethan dialog, this very short book follows the adventures of a man who wakes up, amnesiac, in a private hospital, and makes a daring escape, followed by the eventual revelation of his true identity as a royal price of Amber, a kingdom located in a alternate universe.

Once he discovers who he is (and that he’s part of a large brood of seemingly-immortal, mostly-amoral siblings), he reveals himself to be mostly self-centered, ambitious, and ruthless, with occasional flashes of decency and compassion (though not enough to make him a very sympathetic character). His goal–to prevail against his other brothers, and seize the throne of his late father.

To do this, he forms and breaks alliances with various of his other brothers and sisters, and recruits a huge army of gullible aliens (who believe him a god) to use as cannon-fodder. In a sparsely-described campaign (and how did Corwin manage his supply lines for his 250,000 soldiers as they conducted a perilous march through hostile dimensions?) he manages to gets every last one of his followers killed in an ill-advised and poorly-planned assault upon Amber, and his own life is subsequently placed in grave peril.

While these events were exciting, the book failed to spark my interest in listening to subsequent volumes because I simply didn’t care whether Corwin became king, or one of his other brothers. They all seemed equally arrogant and awful to me, a bunch of entitled, privileged scions who considered all those not of royal blood to be mere pawns in their game of thrones.

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2 Responses
  1. Keith McComb says:

    Oh my god, finally I’ve come across someone who thinks the way I do about 9 Princes! It almost seems like you’re spouting heresy to some people if you say it wasn’t the Greatest! Thing! EVER!!eleven!

    • Michaela August says:

      And I had such high hopes for this book, too, having heard it praised for years! Ah well, one Audible credit and five hours of my life. It could have been worse. *g*

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