The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The story of Amber is told in two cycles, consisting of ten novels. The tale is extremely complex, written over a span of twenty years, and involves dozens of principal characters who are related in various ways. Amber is depicted as the “real world”; all other worlds, including contemporary Earth, are shadows cast by that reality. It is a world of magic and swordplay ruled by members of a bickering royal family who form temporary alliances and then regularly betray one another.

Outside Amber, the characters “travel through shadows” by creating differences in reality as they walk, ride horses, and occasionally even drive cars. Physical laws are different in the various worlds; a motor vehicle, for example, would be useless in Amber.

The first cycle, contained in The Chronicles of Amber, tells the story of Corwin, Prince of Amber. He is the son of King Oberon, who has disappeared. Corwin finds himself in a hospital in New York State, apparently injured in a car accident. He thinks of himself as Carl Corey and has little memory of his past. Gradually, he learns that there is more to his past than an ordinary earthly existence. His first clue is the discovery of a pack of tarot cards that includes trumps with the pictures of Corwin and his brothers and sisters. Eventually, he is contacted by his brother Random and brought back to Amber, where he learns about the Pattern.

The Pattern is a mazelike series of twisting trails that can be walked safely only by a member of the royal family. Corwin learns that he is in great danger. His brother Eric is trying to claim the...

(The entire section is 660 words.)