The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

Start Your Free Trial

Download The Chronicles of Amber Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In many respects the Amber novels represent a more detailed and elaborate exploration of the themes embodied in Lord of Light. Corwin, the protagonist, and his siblings are immortals (at least they do not die of natural causes; although incredibly tough, they are not immune to violent death), but their long lives and extraordinary powers have bred in them an arrogance and capriciousness which make them an amoral, manipulative elite. The disappearance and presumed death of their father Oberon has touched off a vicious battle for the succession between rival factions of the family — a display of intrigue, betrayal, and counterplots that recalls the Borgia family at its most Machiavellian. Yet within this drift to moral anarchy, a counterforce begins to emerge, as some of the siblings, notably Corwin and his brother Random, begin a slow growth to maturity (one of the novel's ironies is that it seems to take immortals a long time to grow up). Their ambitions, jealousies, and lust for vengeance gradually give way to a sense of duty. Amber ceases to be a prize to be fought over and becomes instead a place of beauty and order to be preserved even at the cost of one's life.

The novel's plot, which at first appears to be a tale of ambition and revenge, gradually reveals itself to be a quest to heal a wounded land. The primal Pattern, which created Amber and upon which Amber's continued existence depends, has been damaged by Corwin's brother Brand, who has shed the blood of a kinsman on the Pattern to disrupt it. The break in the Pattern is growing, threatening the very existence of Amber. At this point Corwin renounces his desire for the throne and seeks to restore the Pattern. It is not he who in fact will restore it, but his willingness to sacrifice his life in the attempt suggests how much he has grown and does aid in the restoration of the land.