in the Shadow of Greatness


April 23, 2007

'waking up', Zelazny's last teaser

Here there be spoilers, specifically the last paragraphs of Roger Zelazny's published work on Amber.

"Care to tell me your story now?"

If Amber writings had to end, in so many ways, this is the perfect closer: a swordfight for the wrong reasons, and a mystery. Corwin narrates:

So we fought. I stood off a bit, going faster and faster. Why not? It was kind of a game.

Suddenly, my body executed a move I had not ordered it to. Luke's eyes widened as the blood spurted and Grayswandir passed entirely through his shoulder. Moments later, Werewindle pierced my vitals.

"Sorry," Luke said. "Listen, Corwin. If you live and I don't, you'd better know that there's too much crazy stuff involving mirrors going on around the castle. The night before you came back, Flora and I fought a creature that came out of a mirror. And there's an odd sorcerer involved—has a crush on Flora. Nobody knows his name. Has something to do with Chaos, though, I'd judge. Could it be that for the first time Amber is starting to reflect Shadow, rather than the other way around?"

"Hello," said a familiar voice. "The deed is done."

"Indeed," said another.

It was the two cowled figures who had spoken. One was Fiona, the other Mandor.

"However it be resolved, good night, sweet prince," said Fiona.

I tried to rise. So did Luke. Tried also to raise my blade. Could not. Again, the world grew dim, and this time I was leaking precious bodily fluids.

"I'm going to live—and come after you," I said.

"Corwin," I heard her say faintly. "We are not as culpable as you may think. This was—"

"—all for my own good, I'll bet," I muttered before the world went dark, growling with the realization that I hadn't gotten to use my death curse. One of these days....

Ah yes.
Corwin. "I'm going to live and come after you."
Of course he is. Always. Endurance is the most important attribute.

But this is Zelazny and Corwin, so there is more...

I woke up in the dispensary in Amber, Luke in the next bed. We both had IVs dripping into us.
"You're going to live," Flora said, lowering my wrist from taking my pulse. "Care to tell me your story now?"
"They just found us in the hall?" Luke asked. "The Hall of Mirrors was nowhere in sight?"
"That's right."
"I don't want to mention any names yet," I said.
"Corwin," Luke said, "Did the Hall of Mirrors show up a lot when you were a kid?"
"No," I said.
"Hardly ever, when I was growing up either," Flora said. "It's only in recent years that it's become this active. Almost as if the place were waking up."
"The place?" Luke said.
"Almost as if there's another player in the game," she responded.
"Who?" I demanded, causing a pain in my gut.
"Why, the castle itself, of course," she said.


The hallway appears rarely in hundreds of years. Then a handful of times in quick succession. Layers of reality and infinity slowly being shuffled, revealed and examined. Secrets and Discovery jostled among family members.

Zelazny had lots more to say.
Luke asks four questions in a row.
Corwin asks one, hurting himself, of course.
Florimel drops a plot thread in their laps that seems absurd. She's one of the youngest scions, how might she know more about the castle than Corwin?

Perhaps because she is curious when so many of the guys aren't? Or is there some family history in plain sight that Flora asked the right question about? Something odd in the family tree?

Another player?
But only family really play the family game?
So the castle?

"Good­bye and hello, as always."

Filed under : Amber at 23.04.2007
Paul says...

Indeed so. I missed the "Flora is young, why does SHE know so much about the Castle's peculiarities?" That's a good point, amongst many.

Posted April 23, 2007 3:58 PM
Randal Trimmer says...

She's not that young. Older than Julian, Gerard, Delwin, Sand, Random and maybe (probably not) Caine.

And Dworkin seems to have liked her as a kid. Turned her invisible to amuse her and who knows what else.

Posted April 23, 2007 8:13 PM
Arref says...

Young enough. It's true that Flora is a 'middle child' rather than a very young one.

But when you look at lost scions before Benedict, dead royals from wars, someone who died on the Pattern in 'recent memory' to make it very clear what happens if you don't try it when rested...

Florimel is more of the recent kids. Brand, Llewella and older are the ones with long memories and access to more secrets.

The timeline almost suggests a heft gap between Clarissa and Rilga. Nothing canon to support that I recall.

I like your comment about Florimel and Dworkin being tight.

Posted April 23, 2007 8:50 PM
Lori says...

Well, believe it or not, I'd not heard of the series until just before this January, and I've just finished the final book of the ten book series last week; I'm now sitting here thinking that its a crying shame that the story had to end.

What a truly gifted writer the man was, however, *I* am living proof that his work lives on. *smiles*

Posted April 24, 2007 12:24 AM
Arref says...

Great point! I'm so glad he is still finding readers since his books are often limited on shelves in the big bookstores.

You may be interested in knowing where to find the "final five" short stories that follow the ten novels.

'Manna from Heaven' collects them all. The book seems available only in hardcover but there are some decent used prices.


Posted April 24, 2007 9:08 AM