in the Shadow of Greatness


January 9, 2007

Wujcik on Castle Amber

Corwin calls it a palace. I can't find any text where he refers to 'Castle Amber'. He speaks of the gardens, fountains, promenades and many entries.

Merlin calls it a castle. Perhaps the grandeur of Chaos dwarfs Amber city. I think that is quite likely.

Pittsburgh is a city with fountains, gardens and many striking views. It can be enchanting and dramatic. Yet New York City makes Pittsburgh look like a folksy charming town.

Now some people definitely prefer charming towns to glorious cities. That appeals to my sense of a few differences between Corwin and Merlin.

from therpgsite

Originally Posted by ColonelHardisson
I have this book about Castle Amber from the late 80s.

It's called the "Visual Guide to Castle Amber" and it was created by Neil Randall and Todd Cameron Hamilton, along with a couple of other guys, based on some conversations held at Roger's home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Here's a link with various cover illustrations:

Originally Posted by ColonelHardisson
Apparently Zelazny actually provided input.

I've listened to the audio tapes of the information gathering session, and most of the contents of the book were suggested by voices other than Roger Zelazny's.

Originally Posted by ColonelHardisson
...what struck me about it was just how small it seemed.

My impression is that the book's format, and the scale of Castle Amber, was more a result of publishing contraints than anything having to do with Roger's vision.

When Roger and I discussed the creation of a Castle Amber sourcebook for Amber Diceless, we spoke at length about the awesome scale of his various visions of Castle Amber, and how cool it would be to have different artists and writers each come up with their own version.

Originally Posted by ColonelHardisson
Given Zelazny's approval of it, I'd have to say it would be definitive, if that's of any import to anyone.

Since Roger and I were both very well versed in the scale of real castles (I drew the detailed version of Castle Harlech for Palladium's Castles book, and spent hours walking it in Wales), neither of us considered the Visual Guide to be a serious attempt at depicting Castle Amber.


That's pretty interesting. I can well believe that RZ intended the palace to be more, not less.

For my campaign notes, see IMC: Amber Castle

Filed under : Amber at 09.01.2007
Ginger Stampley says...

My mental models for Castle Amber have always been things like Alnwick and Warwick, which had the original defensive fortifications, but extensive landscaping inside. I don't think the two (palace and castle) are mutually exclusive.

Posted January 9, 2007 12:21 PM
Vaxalon says...

I think what's more important than how it looks (important as that may be) or how it's laid out (which isn't terribly important to me) is that it is subtly magical. Not as magical as Hogwarts, certainly, but nevertheless I can't see someone like Oberon building a mundane castle.

The Hall of Mirrors, for example, is a mystical place. Even the castle's residents don't entirely understand it.

I like for the Castle/Palace to be large enough that people can get lost in it. I like for it to transcend mapping--to define it is to kill it. I like for its residents to have secret corners they can retreat to of which others are unaware. I like for there to be secret resources to be found in its deep recesses.

Heck, I could even see Castle Amber as an unknown power to which an Amberite could become attuned (though never entirely understand).

Posted January 12, 2007 9:04 AM
namo says...

"Heck, I could even see Castle Amber as an unknown power to which an Amberite could become attuned (though never entirely understand)."

Well, in the extra short stories (I'm thinking of 'Blue Horse, Dancing Moutain' here), there is a game of 3D-chess, in which the castles (Amber and Thelbane) are the *Queens* ! The Unicorn and Snake are "only" Kings... Very frustrating.

Posted January 16, 2007 2:40 AM
Arref says...

IMC, the Castle has been determined to be a power that can be attuned.

The castle has also accumulated a patina of spells and other 'defensive' modifications that complicate understanding it.

It is a haven of secrets.

One reveal IMC is that there is a castle guardian related to the family by blood that few people can remember even if they meet her. In the same odd way that the Hall of Mirrors seems to have a different arrangement every time it is seen, folks don't remember previous meetings with the guardian either.

Posted January 16, 2007 8:23 AM
JP says...

Palaces can take many forms. Because I refuse to admit Chaosian superiority to Amber, I choose to believe that Merlin is referring to the fact that Amber's palace has the style and trappings of a castle, as opposed to the improbable and alien trapping of the Thelbane palace in Chaos.

Posted January 19, 2007 12:51 PM