Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny

This is the second installment of Zelazny's Amber stories. The good points here are the same as those in the first book: Zelazny's world is interesting, Corwin is an interesting and believable protagonist, the specific fantasy and SF elements of the story are unique, and the voice is effective. Think Raymond Chandler without the restrictions of reality.

The flaws I find are the same as I saw in Nine Princes in Amber as well. The story is really just an installment in a series and not one that can stand on its own. There's a progression of action without a real arc, and that makes the book feel like I'm reading Super Mario Brothers at times. There's little to no character development, though there are revelations that make Corwin alter his plan and make secondary characters change in their dispositions toward Corwin.

Again, a satisfying diversion, and it's probably exactly as Zelazny intended it. What I see as flaws are recognized within serial fantasy as mere convention, so it's another reminder that just because it doesn't satisfy me doesn't mean it's objectively bad.

6 comments:

Jerry said...

I really do have to read that series again. I think it has been about 10 years or so since I initially read it. Fond memories even if they are extremely vague.

Jason said...

You can have my copies when I'm done with them if you want. They're good, but I don't feel like I'll be deprived if I give them away after reading them.

Jim said...

The thing I liked best about the Amber series was it was so unconventional. I'd just gotten off a long Anthony Piers' Xanth kick when I first read these. It did a lot to mature my tastes in books, I think.

The Amber series and the Black Company series are up there with my all time favorites.

paul lamb said...

I thought the first three novels in the Amber series were excellent, but all of the stuff after it (another five?) was just him milking the idea.

AA Realty said...

I remember reading this in middle school during math class.

Teacher: "Hey Brad, that must be an interesting book."

Brad: "Yes."

Then I kept reading. We didn't get along well after that.

Jason said...

There are a number of people who endorse Zelazny with a blanket statement, and then others who say the Amber novels are must-reads. Most often, I guess, I've heard that the first five Amber novels are great, but beyond that the project lost focus.

You must have had great success in that math class, Brad. I wish I'd been awake in math often enough to make smartass comments.