Awakening in an Earth hospital unable to remember who he is or where he came from, Corwin is amazed to learn that he is one of the sons of Oberon, King of Amber, and is the rightful successor to the crown in a parallel world.
Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman. Binder of Demons, Lord of Light.
Here is the first new adventure in the classic Amber series in over five years — the first book in a brand-new trilogy from multi-award-winning author Roger Zelazny. Amber, the one real world, of which all others — including our own Earth — are but Shadows…
Merle Corey is a brilliant young computer designer in San Francisco. But he is also Merlin, son of Corwin, vanished prince of Amber — heir to his father’s wondrous powers — and someone is determined to kill him. Now he will begin a desperate race through Shadow to escape the mysterious force that threatens his life… and to protect the deadly secret that could destroy both his worlds.
Returning to Shadow Earth to investigate a threat against his life, Corwin discovers that the Jewel of Judgment has been stolen by his traitorous brother, Brand, who plans to use the enigmatic gem to reshape the universe.
Accepting the responsibilities as ruler to the world of Amber, Corwin finds himself the target of sibling treachery, and must seek guidance in a land of visions, where a sinister prediction foretells his doom.
Corwin finds his world dissolving around him when his father Oberon, disguised as Corwin’s friend, steals the Jewel of Judgment so that he may defeat the evil Brand, in a conclusion to the first Amber series.
Seeking vengeance against his usurping brother, Eric, Corwin, the rightful heir to the throne, ventures into the dark world of Shadow in order to gather ammunition, and is distracted by a beautiful and mysterious woman.
After years of unprepossessing folderol--the wearisome Nine Princes in Amber retreads are depressingly typical--Zelazny bursts forth with, well, ``Victorian light supernatural fantasy'' just about covers it. Narrator Snuff, a guard dog who performs complex thaumaturgical calculations in his head, has many duties: to keep various Things firmly trapped in mirrors, wardrobes, and steamer trunks; to accompany his master, Jack--he of the magical blade--on weird collecting expeditions into the graveyards and slums of Victorian London; and--for a single hour each night--discuss the day's goings-on in human speech. Snuff's neighbors include: Jill the witch and her familiar, Graymalk the cat, with whom Snuff forms a friendly alliance; Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula, a werewolf, and a satanic vicar. The witches, detectives, doctors, vampires, etc., along with their equally industrious familiars, trade information and scheme for advantage as the full moon of Halloween approaches; at that time, a magical showdown to decide the fate of the Earth will occur. Some of the characters are ``openers,'' determined to open a magical doorway allowing the Old Gods to reoccupy the Earth; others are ``closers,'' equally resolved to keep the magical door nailed shut; and a few are involved yet stand outside the Game altogether. Snuff's problem is to discover who is which. Sparkling, witty, delightful: Zelazny's best for ages, perhaps his best ever.
The title story, "Unicorn Variation", was written as a result of Zelazny having been asked to contribute to two different upcoming anthologies — one collecting stories set in bars, and one collecting stories about unicorns. When Zelazny mentioned these requests to his close friend George R. R. Martin, the other told Zelazny of a third upcoming anthology — one which would collect stories about chess — and jokingly suggested that Zelazny write a story about playing chess against a unicorn in a bar, so that he could sell the story three times. Zelazny did just that and then went on to win a for the story.
Dilvish, astride Black, the great metal horse, plunged into the fog as the land behind them exploded into a volcano of mud. They raced a hedge of flames along a boiling river. Inhuman screams rent the air, as fountains of blood gushed and tiny points of light rose from the dark waters amid showers of sparks. A winged, monkey-faced thing flew at them, shrieking, talons outstretched.
Black leaped as the ground split before them, revealing huge purple hands. Then Dilvish and Black entered a curtain of blue fires that turned their limbs cobalt colored and brittle. Finally they, reached a saffron cloudbank and stopped, shuddering, within a protective circle Black raised.
The metal horse scarred the ground with a cloven hoof.
"So much for the easy part," he remarked.
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