Flashback Friday: Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

It’s time, once again, for Flashback Friday…

Flashback Fridays is a chance to dig deep in the darkest nooks of our bookshelves and pull out the good stuff from way back. As a reader, a blogger, and a consumer, I tend to focus on new, new, new… but what about the old favorites, the hidden gems? On Flashback Fridays, I want to hit the pause button for a moment and concentrate on older books that are deserving of attention.

My rules — since I’m making this up:

  1. Has to be something I’ve (you’ve) read myself (yourself) — oh, you know what I mean!
  2. Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  3. Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:

Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny

(published 1970)

Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles simply astounded me when I first encountered them quite a while back (no, I will not disclose just how many decades ago that was or how old I was — suffice it to say that I was vibrant and youthful and wore clothes that my children would mock). These books were among my early forays into the world of science fiction and fantasy, an area of my reading history that was sorely lacking during my childhood and youth. I admit it now: I’d never read Narnia, had read The Hobbit but no other Tolkien (horrors! I’m ashamed of my younger self!), and had only recently been introduced to Dune. And then I met Amber, and it rocked my world.

From Goodreads:

Amber, the one real world, wherein all others, including our own Earth, are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin’s blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne. From Arden to the blood-slippery Stairway into the Sea, the air is electrified with the powers of Eric, Random, Bleys, Caine, and all the princes of Amber whom Corwin must overcome. Yet, his savage path is blocked and guarded by eerie structures beyond imaging impossible realities forged by demonic assassins and staggering horrors to challenge the might of Corwin’s superhuman fury.

I barely remember the details, but I do know that I loved this book and the ones that followed. The Amber Chronicles consist of ten books in all, although I believe I only made it through 6 or 7 of them. (Hey, it was the 80s — I was busy!). Still, I know I fell in love with the concept of the shadow worlds, the battle for the throne, and the labyrinth-like Pattern that the royal family members must walk in order to gain access to other worlds. It was epic and dramatic high fantasy, and I’d never encountered anything quite like it before.

Last year at a book sale, I picked up an all-in-one volume of the entire Amber Chronicles, and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. Maybe it’s time to dust it off and give it a whirl. It’s entirely possible that it will feel incredibly dated at this point — but somehow, I have a feeling that I’ll be drawn into Corwin’s story once again and won’t be able to let go until I reach the end.

If you’re a fan of today’s bestselling fantasy series, such as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire or Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle, why not go back in time and give Amber a try?

So, what’s your favorite blast from the past? Leave a tip for your fellow booklovers, and share the wealth. It’s time to dust off our old favorites and get them back into circulation! 

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: This is my baby-steps attempt at a blog hop! Join in, post a Friday Flashback on your blog, and share your link below. Don’t have a blog post to share? Then share your favorite oldie-but-goodie in the comments section. Let’s get this party started!

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