Urbanist Book Review: The Chronicles of Amber

Title: The Amber Chronicles

Author: Roger Zelazny

Locations of note: Amber & an innumerable array of shadow worlds

Urbanist Review: I actually had to stop reading this, so fair warning–this review is based on incomplete information. However, I got so fed up with the combination of bloodbath plot twists (seriously, supporting hordes die en masse about twice in the first fifty pages) and complete lack of character development, that I abandoned the effort. The scene-setting fares about as poorly as the characters. Which is to say, that for a book about multiple worlds, and a family who can create worlds, the description of said worlds leaves something to be desired. To Zelazny’s credit, the places are not generic. In fact, there’s a “hell-ride” through a series of worlds that feels like a fever dream sequence from 1965. But despite the bizarre accoutrements–furry soldier-beasts, weird landscapes, flying rocks–the shadow worlds never feel like anything other than tools to advance the plot. The supporting characters have the same problem; even the primary character has little depth past an inexplicable ambition. Actually that’s only about half true–in fact, the male characters are missing depth–the female characters aren’t even two dimensional, not much more than names. Eventually, the cursory nature of the descriptions became so annoying that I gave up.