Trumps of Doom
“He started out walking, into the Labyrinth. There seemed to be a faint tune in the air…”
I don’t know if I can fully explain why, but within the first few pages of this book, I knew that my biggest complaint about the original series was at least being addressed. Whether or not it’s fixed, we’ll see. This is the follow up series to the Nine Princes of Amber which were published from 1970-1978. This series was first published in 1985 and then through 1991. The shift from the 1970s to the 1980s is welcome here.
Our narrator is Merlin, son of Corwin, who like his father wakes up in the opening moments of this first book, but here is not missing huge chunks of his memory. Both our narrator and our reader are more in tune with what is going on here. Immediately though, someone is trying to kill him, which is inconvenient but gets the ball rolling. We find out that Merlin has a friend who like him has a mystery background, unnatural athletic ability, and several other things in common. In addition Merlin has a charm that can tell him when someone intends to do him harm, and it was pinging for the first two years of his friendship with Luke. He looked past it, because they were buddies. In addition, the attempts on his life seem to subside for awhile. But now that they’ve picked up and now that Merlin finds himself on the run again trying to lock down whatever clues are necessary to resolve this new turn we’re on board.
The new series is still as opaque as previously, but I feel like either my muscle memory from the first one or a slight balancing of scope makes this work a little better for me, at least so far.
Blood of Amber
“My life had been relatively peaceful for eight years–not counting April thirtieths, when someone invariably tried to kill me.”
This is the second of the new series (from the 80s primarily) in which the son of Corwin has his little adventures. It’s hard not to think about this series as a possible tv show. The books as a whole are pretty episodic, but so too are the chapters within the books. Because this is a series with time-travel, multiple dimensions, fast travel, and magic, a lot happens, sometimes slightly arbitrary feeling, and you just kind of roll with it. In addition, people die and come back, and there’s lots of a little characters. It’s the kind of show that could be really good because it would allow for a lot of character actors and guest stars to pop up.
The novel culminates in the storming of a castle type scene, and it’s one of the more fun moments across all the series because it’s the one that really explores a little of the magic system a little bit, which makes it feel like a card-based RPG when it does. Given how much I like card-based RPGs, this works for me. Merlin remains a more compelling narrator than Corwin ever was, and the world here is more clearly rendered than the Amber series over all.