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The Chronicles of Amber

The Chronicles of Amber is a popular fantasy series by Roger Zelazny. The main series consists of two story arcs, each five novels in length. Additionally, there are a number of Amber short stories and other works. The series inspired a roleplaying game.

In the Amber stories, Amber and the Courts of Chaos are the only two true worlds; all others, including our Earth, are but "shadows" of the tension between them. Royals of Amber who have negotiated the Pattern, and the equivalent Chaos nobility who have navigated the Logrus, can freely travel through the shadows and alter them, but they cannot alter Amber itself.

The Chronicles

The first ten novels were written by Zelazny and were released individually. They have also been released in a single volume called The Great Book of Amber.

The Corwin Cycle

The first five novels are narrated by Corwin and follow his life as he reenters his family after an absence of some centuries. They have been collected under the title The Chronicles of Amber.

Nine Princes in Amber (1970)

Corwin wakes up from a coma in a hospital in New York with amnesia. He soon discovers that he's part of a superhuman royal family who can wander among infinite parallel worlds (called "shadows"), and who rule over the one true world, Amber. After meeting a few members of his newly-rediscovered family, he is taken to walk the Pattern, a labyrinth inscribed in the dungeons of Castle Amber which gives the multiverse its order. Walking the Pattern of Rebma (a city in Amber that mirrors the true city of Amber, down to the smallest detail, including the pattern) restores Corwin's memory and his powers to travel through shadow. He attempts to conquer Amber, which is currently ruled by his elder brother Eric, who took power after the disappearance of their father, Oberon. Corwin fails to seize power and is blinded and imprisoned. Thanks to the regenerative powers of his family, he regrows his eyes, and after a chance encounter with Dworkin Barimen, the mad sorcerer who created the Pattern, he escapes.

The Guns of Avalon (1972)

Corwin has escaped the dungeons of Amber, where he was imprisoned by his hated brother Eric, who has seized the throne. All of Corwin's siblings believe that guns can never be brought to Amber, as all gunpowders seem inert there. But Corwin has secret knowledge: in the shadow world of Avalon, where he once ruled, there exists a jeweler's rouge that will function as gunpowder in Amber. Corwin plans to raise a legion of shadow soldiers, and arm them with automatic rifles from the shadow world Earth. While gathering these forces Corwin discovers a more sinister problem growing among the shadows he visits and conceives a child with Dara, a woman reputed to be his great grand niece. He discovers a threat to Amber, a black road which runs across universes from the Courts of Chaos to Amber. With his newly-trained army, Corwin marches on Castle Amber only to find it already under siege. Eric is mortally wounded and passes the Jewel of Judgment to Corwin, making Corwin Regent. The threat is defeated but Dara threatens greater peril after walking the pattern and revealing herself as creature of the Courts of Chaos intent on destroying both Amber and the Shadows.

Sign of the Unicorn (1975)

Eric is dead, and Corwin now rules Amber as Regent. But someone has murdered Caine (another brother) and framed Corwin. This leads to questions about other missing members of the royal family. Random tells of his attempts to rescue Brand, and Corwin decides to find out what happened to him. After many intrafamily exchanges, Brand is rescued but is stabbed by one of the family in the attempt. In the midst of the ensuing intrigue an assassination attempt is made on Corwin and he finds himself incapacitated on Earth. Before returning to Amber he hides the Jewel of Judgment on Earth. After Brand recovers, he tells Corwin of several incidents leading up to his capture. Corwin travels to Tir-na Nog'th, the mysterious, moonlit Amber-in-the-sky where he hopes to gain insight into the situation, and upon his return finds himself at the Primal Pattern rather than Amber.

The Hand of Oberon (1976)

Corwin finds the Primal Pattern damaged, with a dark stain obscuring parts of it. On further investigation is found that the blood of one of the members of his family causes such a stain. Corwin descends back to the dungeons and meets with Dworkin who explains how the pattern might be repaired. After being chased from the pattern, Corwin eventually discovers that Brand is responsible for the damage and that he now has the Jewel of Judgment. Corwin must now prevent Brand from attuning himself to the jewel or Brand's plot to destroy the pattern will succeed. He and his family band together to prevent this and eventually recover the jewel, and discover that their father Oberon, the true King of Amber, still lives.

The Courts of Chaos (1978)

Oberon, having resumed the throne, organizes an assault on the Courts of Chaos. Oberon plans to repair the Primal Pattern at the cost of his life, and offers the throne to Corwin with Dara as his Queen. Corwin refuses and is tasked to bring the Jewel of Judgment across the shadows to the ensuing battle after the pattern is redrawn. He sets off along the black road and is soon pursued by Brand and a Great storm. Through the storm and across the multiverse he comes to doubt his father's success. As he approaches the Courts of Chaos he is assailed by fantastic beings who try to dissuade him, and he finally decides that his father must have failed. Corwin then creates a new pattern and uses it to get to the Courts. In a final confrontation with Brand, the Jewel of Judgment is stolen and lost. It is recovered by a unicorn who bestows it on Random, who is accepted as the new King. The Trumps and multiverse are restored and Corwin begins to relate the first Five novels to his son Merlin.

The Merlin Cycle

The next five novels focus on Merlin, Corwin's son. These stories are held by some to be of a lower quality than the first five, revolving around the acquisition of ever more powerful artifacts, each of which negates the drawbacks of the last.

Trumps of Doom (1985)

Merlin has been studying Computer Science on Earth while constructing a secret project called Ghostwheel, a sentient computer based on the Trumps that Merlin hopes will be able to locate Corwin, who vanished after visiting the Courts of Chaos in the previous novel. Merlin discovers his ex-girlfriend killed by beasts from another shadow. King Random tries to force him to shut down Ghostwheel but the artifact shows it is capable of self-defense. He soon finds that his best friend Luke is in fact the son of Brand and was responsible for yearly attempts on his life, on the anniversary of when Luke found out about Brand's death. He is left by Luke, imprisoned in a cave of blue crystal which negates the trumps and from which he cannot escape.

Blood of Amber (1986)

Merlin escapes from the crystal cave, and decides to gain leverage over Luke by rescuing Luke's mother Jasra from the Keep of the Four Worlds. The Keep of the Four Worlds is a nexus of magical energies and which has fallen under the control of a mysterious blue-masked sorcerer called Mask who seems to have it in for Merlin. He spars with the sorcerer and escapes with the now-petrified Jasra. He returns to Amber where an unusual Trump summoning imprisons him in the Mad Hatter's tea party from _A_Mad_Tea_Party.

Sign of Chaos (1987)

Merlin realises that Wonderland, where he and Luke are trapped, is an LSD-induced hallucination made real by Luke's powers over shadow. They escape from the tea party with the help of a Jabberwock using a vorpal sword. He leaves Luke to sober up and seeks his stepbrother Mandor, who thinks that their half-brother Jurt may be trying to kill Merlin in order to take the throne of Chaos. Along with Jasra they wrest the Keep of the Four Worlds from Jurt (who has developed godlike powers) and the sorcerer, Mask. They learn that Mask is in fact Merlin's ex-girlfriend Julia.

Knight of Shadows (1989)

Still pursued by Jurt and Julia, Merlin finds himself in a struggle between the Logrus, the fundamental power of chaos, and the Pattern, the fundamental power of order. He locates his father Corwin's pattern and learns from a ghostly copy of his father the nature of the power struggle. It is revealed that the Pattern, and its chaotic counterpart the Logrus, are sentient, and wish Merlin to choose a side to tip the balance of the multiverse towards one or the other. He attempts to use the pattern to find his actual father and is confronted by the powers. They try to make him choose between them using ghosts of family members who have traversed their two paths. He attempts to walk the route of neutrality to avoid choosing sides.

Prince of Chaos (1991)

Merlin returns to his birthplace in the Courts of Chaos in order to solve the existential riddle in which he is involved. He realizes he is but a pawn in the hands of the powerful and cynical superpowers that rule the universe. Merlin becomes the new king of Chaos and is reunited with his father, Corwin. In the Courts of Chaos, Merlin uses Ghostwheel and all his magical powers in the final fight for survival.

Short stories

For the limited 1985 edition of Trumps of Doom, Zelazny wrote a prologue which details Merlin's passage through the Logrus.

After completing the Merlin Cycle, Zelazny wrote six Amber short stories, in which he begins to tease the threads of the story into a new configuration. The author died shortly after completing the fifth short story of this small series, and before the sixth story (co-written with Ed Greenwood) had been completed. Six of the seven short stories were collected in Manna from Heaven (2003), along with the Trumps of Doom prologue and 16 non-Amber stories. The unfinished tale "A Secret of Amber" was published in 2005 in Amberzine #12-15.

The first five stories are linked, with "The Shroudling and the Guisel" chronologically the first, followed by "Blue Horse, Dancing Mountains", and the others in the sequence they were written. However, suggested reading orders differ, with Manna from Heaven placing "The Shroudling and the Guisel" last as it explains much of the mysteries in the stories set after it. "Shroudling" was written after "Blue Horse" but published before it. "A Secret of Amber" was written in stages beginning prior to any of the other Amber short stories, but was left incomplete at Zelazny's death. It features an interaction between Fiona and Corwin.

The Dawn of Amber

The Dawn of Amber series by John Gregory Betancourt started to be published in 2002. Betancourt's series tells the story of Corwin's father Oberon. It is set several centuries before Nine Princes in Amber and includes, thus far:

These novels were authorized by the Zelazny estate; however, that decision has been criticized by several acquaintances of Mr. Zelazny, including the writers George R.R. Martin, Walter Jon Williams and Neil Gaiman. These critics assert that Roger Zelazny was quite averse to the idea of a "shared" Amber setting, and that he had explicitly stated, in no uncertain terms, that he did not want any other writers writing about Amber.

That the series focuses on Oberon has disappointed many Amber fans who, after reading the Merlin series and realizing that Zelazny almost certainly was planning another series to wrap up the story that was, in effect, left hanging, were hoping for just that wrap-up. The Dawn of Amber series did not pick up where the Merlin series left off, given some fans' rather negative response to Betancourt's writing style and lack of characterization.

In addition, the series seems to contradict some ideas in Amber or rules stated in the original ten books. Betancourt talked about some of these concerns in an interview, stating that some of them won't prove valid at end of his series.

Due to Byron Preiss' death, iBooks filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and the series was canceled. The future of the series is uncertain but iBooks has shown renewed interest in the series since being purchased by John T Colby in 2006.

Other works

There are two guides to Amber:

  • Roger Zelazny's Visual Guide to Castle Amber by Roger Zelazny and Neil Randall (1988)
  • The Complete Amber Sourcebook by Theodore Krulik (1996)

There are two books similar in concept to the Choose Your Own Adventure series, for the Combat Command series, by Neil Randall:

  • Seven No-Trump (1988)
  • The Black Road War (1988)

There is also the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game by Erick Wujcik:

  • Amber Diceless Role-playing (1991)
  • Shadow Knight (1995)

There are two three-part comic adaptations of Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon, respectively, by Terry Bisson (1996)

Sunset Productions did audio versions of Roger reading the novels (except where noted) and produced them with sound effects. Sunset was bought out by Americana Publishing in 2002.

  1. Nine Princes in Amber (abridged February 1992, unabridged April 1998)
  2. The Guns of Avalon (abridged February 1992, unabridged November 1998)
  3. Sign of the Unicorn (abridged September 1992, unabridged December 1998)
  4. The Hand of Oberon (abridged October 1992, unabridged 1999) (last portion of the unabridged version read by Bob Watson)
  5. The Courts of Chaos (abridged only January 1993, unsure of unabridged date)
  6. Trumps of Doom (abridged April 1993, unsure of unabridged date)
  7. Blood of Amber (abridged July 1993, unsure of unabridged date)
  8. Sign of Chaos (abridged November 1994, unabridged 2002)
  9. Knight of Shadows (abridged only) (October 1996)
  10. Prince of Chaos (abridged only) (read by Bruce Watson) (December 1998)

Additionally, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) have also created their own unabridged versions of The Chronicles of Amber. Though they are not read by Zelazny and do not contain special effects, they are the only source for unabridged readings of the later works.

The Amber Multiverse

The series is based on the concept of parallel worlds, domination over them being fought between the kingdoms at the extreme ends of Shadow—Amber, the one true world of Order, and the Courts of Chaos. Amberites of royal blood—those descended from Oberon (and ultimately his parents, Dworkin, formerly of the Courts of Chaos, and the Unicorn of Order herself) —are able to "walk in Shadow", mentally willing changes to occur around them. These changes are, in effect, representative of the Shadow-walker passing through different realities. There are apparently infinite realities, and the characters in the novels refer are not sure if these different universes are created as one walks through Shadow, or if they already exist and a Shadow-walker is able to slip from one to another. In the Merlin cycle there are references to the Wheeler-Everret interpretation of quantum-mechanics and the Ghostwheel created by Merlin is said to "shuffle" through Shadows, suggesting that the multiverse exists independently, although this is never explicitly stated.

Within this multiverse, Zelazny deals with some interesting philosophical concepts about the nature of existence, compares and contrasts the ideas of Order and Chaos, and plays with the laws of physics—they can differ from Shadow to Shadow; for instance, gunpowder does not ignite in Amber, which is why the characters all carry swords. Other Shadows have green skies and blue suns, cities of glass and Kentucki Fried Lizzard Partes, and worlds out of our own fiction can come to life.

The Geography of Amber

The Castle, City and State of Amber sits atop Kolvir, a mountain which dominates the land and sea around it. Part of the landward side is a high cliff, thousands of feet high, which can be climbed using carved steps. These form a switchback path that is wide at the bottom, but narrows as it rises until there is room enough only for a single man to stand during the last few courses.

Below the cliff is the Vale of Garnath, through which forces of Chaos eventually come to threaten Amber. On the seaward side the land slopes more gently. The defense of Amber on this side is the job of the fleet of sailing ships, led by Caine or Gérard. The remaining approaches to the city pass through the Forest of Arden, patrolled by troops commanded by Julian.

Originally, with the exception of the Pattern and the Trumps, there was no way for the Amberites to exercise their abilities within Amber itself. Since Amber "casts Shadow but is not of it", walking in Shadow was not possible. It was necessary to journey far from Kolvir in order to walk in Shadow, traveling to other worlds. The usual route was by sea, or through the Forest of Arden. Similarly it was not possible to arrive in Amber by traveling in Shadow, which is why the sea patrols and Julian's force in Arden were effective. In Nine Princes in Amber Random and Corwin arrive in Arden by driving Flora's car through Shadow, but no sooner do they do this are they discovered by Julian.

Later, when Oberon returned and it was revealed that Amber itself was a Shadow of the Primal Pattern, Corwin found he could enter Shadow much closer to Amber than he thought possible. He was unable, however, to emulate Oberon's ability to work Shadow on Kolvir itself.

Another effect of closeness to Amber is the failure of explosives. Explosives, and thus firearms, do not work in Amber, until Corwin discovers that Jeweler's Rouge from Avalon (a world Corwin frequented in his past and favored above all other shadows save Earth) meets the chemical requirements to combust in Amber. He uses this to arm his invading force in The Guns of Avalon.

Amber's Reflections

Amber has two reflections or counterparts. The city of Rebma lies under the sea off the coast. Markers on the beach point the way to an underwater stairway which descends to the city. While on the stairway and in the city, it is possible to breathe despite being submerged. During their flight from Amber's troops, Random and Corwin have to fight on the stairway, killing some of their enemies by casting them beyond the rail, where they are crushed by the pressure of water. Reaching the line of Rebma's guards, they have to ask for sanctuary from Moire, Rebma's Queen. The people of Rebma are human in form but resentful of Amber, particularly when Amber's strife causes ripples of trouble in their own home. In times of peace Amberites may visit freely. It was during one such time that Random seduced Moiré's daughter, causing her to commit suicide when he left. Rebma also contains a Pattern, a match to the one in Amber. It is this pattern that Corwin walks to regain his memory.

When the full moon shines, a mirage appears above Amber. This is the city of Tir na Nog'th. The only inhabitants of this city are shadows and ghosts of people who once, might have, or never existed. When the ghost city appears, a stairway leads to it, starting with three stone steps on Kolvir. As long as the moon is not obscured, the stairway and the city are solid enough to stand on. Amberites visit the ghost city to explore their feelings and to seek insight and portents of the future. When doing so, they must stay in contact with another Amberite using a trump, since the city may disappear without warning if a cloud passes across the moon. There is yet another pattern in Tir na Nog'th, but walking it is a matter of last resort, when access to all the other Patterns is denied. It is while visiting Tir na Nog'th that Corwin fights the ghost of his brother Benedict, gaining possession of a magical artificial right arm which the real Benedict adopts, having lost his real arm in a fight. The magical arm is crucial in defeating their brother Brand when he attempts to use the Jewel of Judgment to remake the multiverse to his own specifications.

The cast of characters

Ultimately, Amber focuses on a dysfunctional family that is somehow at the center of a cosmic war between many powers. Nine princes and four princesses of Amber, including Prince Corwin as narrator of the first book series, try to deal with the disappearance of Oberon, their father, and an apparent need for succession of the throne. No-one trusts anyone, everyone appears to be ready to backstab anyone else (often literally), and everyone seems genuinely interested in only one thing: himself or herself.

In this respect, the Amber series could perhaps be best described as a philosophical, metaphysical, magical, mystical, fantasy soap opera. It has all those things, all wrapped around a cast of characters who are conniving, paranoid, dysfunctional, and often heartless.

All of the princes and princesses of Amber have super-human strength and regenerative capabilities. For example, Random and Corwin are able to pick up a car that had become stuck on a soft shoulder and place it back on the road, and Corwin is able to regenerate his eyes after they are burned out, although it takes him several years.

The Pattern and the Logrus

At the two poles of existence are the symbols of Order and Chaos—The Pattern and The Logrus, respectively. Each takes the form of a maze or labyrinth which, when negotiated, gives a person the ability to walk in shadow—across the different possible universes. Whereas the Pattern is a static, two-dimensional maze, The Logrus can be described as a shifting, three-dimensional obstacle course. The Pattern is located in caverns deep underneath the palace of Amber. The Pattern of Amber is the first shadow of the Primal Pattern, the original creation of Dworkin after he defected from the Courts of Chaos, and exists in its own shadow.

Nine other imperfect copies of the Pattern exist in shadows close to Amber, with the first three being the least dangerous to walk. Walking the shadow Patterns can give an individual some access to magical energies. Merlin repairs the imperfections in one shadow Pattern by walking it with the Jewel of Judgment. The repaired shadow pattern is then absorbed, increasing the strength of The Pattern relative to The Logrus.

A second complete Pattern also exists having been created by Corwin using the Jewel of Judgment in The Courts of Chaos. Corwin's Pattern exists separately from the original Pattern, although it is still attacked by The Logrus. Corwin's Pattern may have served as a gateway to an entirely separate multiverse, and it may have also been responsible for additional shadow storms which can raise havoc across the multiverse.

In the Merlin cycle, strife continues in Amber and the Courts of Chaos, driven by the fundamental battle between The Pattern and The Logrus themselves. Each of these fundamental entities is discovered to be sentient and battle across the multiverse using agents. The Pattern is able to create "Pattern Ghosts," duplicates of people who have walked the pattern, while The Logrus employs demons. When The Pattern and The Logrus came in direct conflict a massive explosion destroyed part of the palace in Amber.

The Trumps

Nearly all of Corwin's relatives carry a deck of Tarot cards, with a key alteration: each family member is on one of the Trumps. Each Trump, when concentrated upon by another family member, allows instant communication across the dimensions, and if both parties are willing, instant travel. Traveling in this way requires trust—placing oneself temporarily at the mercy of the non-traveling host. People watching someone leave via a Trump will notice them suddenly becoming two-dimensional, followed by a burst of color. It is also possible to contact a person via the Trumps and then hold them by an act of will and thereby prevent them from doing other things. Contact is broken by passing one's hand over the trump.

Trumps can also be made for places, for example the Palace of Amber. In the second cycle Merlin discovers cards which refers to as the "Trumps of Doom" which transport the individual to locations of extreme danger. They are, therefore, traps for the unwary.

The main sets of Trumps were created by Dworkin, but other individuals who have gained power by walking The Pattern, such as Fiona and Brand were able to learn enough to be able to create new Trumps. Merlin was able to start with a pencil and a blank card to create a new Trump fairly quickly. Dworkin was able to free Corwin from prison by drawing the image of a the Lighthouse of Cabra on a stone wall of the cell using a broken spoon. Corwin was then able to use the drawing like a trump and transport himself out of his cell to the lighthouse.


As inspirations for the Chronicles of Amber go, a compelling argument can be made for the 1946 novel The Dark World by Henry Kuttner (and most likely his wife, C. L. Moore, an unusually symbiotic collaborator). Zelazny himself is quoted as saying:

...the Kuttner story which most impressed me in those most impressionable days was his short novel The Dark World. I returned to it time and time, reading it over and over again, drawn by its colorful, semi-mythic characters and strong action. ...looking back, Kuttner and Moore—and, specifically, The Dark World—were doubtless a general influence on my development as a writer. As for their specific influences—particularly on my Amber series—I never thought about it until Jane Lindskold started digging around and began pointing things out to me.

Reading the hard-to-find Kuttner (and Moore) novel, readers are bound to find similarities in theme and in specific instances: some character names are common to both works, and they share the fantasy literary device of moving a present day, realistic character from the familiar world into a fantastical, alternate reality world, exposing the character to this shift as the reader experiences it.

Some believe the series was inspired by Philip José Farmer's World of Tiers series. The overall theme of both series is the same: an immensely powerful family in a deadly rivalry over the fate of multiple universes. The plot of the first book in each series is nearly identical. Zelazny also wrote an admiring introduction to A Private Cosmos, the third Tiers book.

Given Zelazny's academic interest in the Medieval European period, it is not a stretch to see a possible influence in Henry Brooks Adams' 1905 work 'Mont-Saint Michel and Chartres', wherein he discusses the building of Chartres Cathedral, and the tidal-islet of Mont St. Michel, on the Normandy coast of France. Chapters include discussions of the statuary relating to the Song of Roland, Aucassin and Nicolette (titled 'Nicolette and Marion'), and there is even a reproduction of a maze that is set in tile in Chartres that the faithful sometimes traverse while in prayer, that to the discerning, or perhaps recahing, may resemble in part the Pattern of Amber. Adams, however, attributes magic or arcane tones to the cathedral's affect on the imagination and belief; the building and presentation of the structure is given in technical detail. No unicorns or shape shifting for Mister Adams, but much detailing that could inspire the enthusiast of things medieval.

More generally, the series draws on many inspirations, especially Celtic and Norse mythology. The Merlin Cycle also features the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Further back, Socrates first postulated that the material worlds are only shadows of the true world (such as Amber or The Courts of Chaos) back in Plato's Republic.

Sometimes the references made by Zelazny could be considered foreshadowing, if one knows the reference. Such as the character Ganelon, whose name is taken from the Matter of France, specifically, it is the name of the man whose moniker is more often "Ganelon the Traitor". This would lead one to believe this name is chosen because of Ganelon purposefully losing a battle to spite Corwin. However, in the Song of Roland, Ganelon is also the stepfather of the main hero, Roland. }

Allusions to Shakespeare

Throughout the Chronicles, Zelazny alludes extensively to plays by William Shakespeare. They include:

  • Oberon, the King of Amber, is the King of the Fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream, although Shakespeare did not invent the character.
  • "Ill-met by moonlight", Deirdre's response to her rescue in Nine Princes in Amber (chapter 4): "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania", said by Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • "To sleep, perchance to dream... Yeah, there's a thing that rubs," Corwin muses in Nine Princes in Amber (chapter 6). "To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub", from the To be, or not to be soliloquy in Hamlet.
  • When he receives Eric's offer of peace in The Guns of Avalon, Corwin muses "...I believe you, never doubt it, for we are all of us honorable men" (chapter 8). In Marc Antony's funeral oration in Julius Caesar, he says, "For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all; all honourable men."
  • "So Childe Random to the dark tower came," Random recounts in his story of how he tried to rescue Brand. At the end of Act IV of King Lear, Edgar, disguised as the Poor Tom, the crazy beggar, babbles "Child Rowland to the dark tower came", an allusion itself to the fairy tale of Childe Rowland.
  • "Good night, sweet Prince," Brand says to Benedict in The Hand of Oberon (chapter 13). These are the words that Horatio speaks at the death of Hamlet.
  • After watching his "dream" from Tir-na Nog'th play out in Amber in The Courts of Chaos (chapter 1), Corwin muses, "I looked back once to the empty place where my dream had come true. Such is the stuff." He alludes to Act IV, scene 1 of The Tempest, where, after causing spirits he has summoned to disappear, Prospero delivers the famous speech that includes the line "We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded by a sleep."
  • Corwin, when describing the royal family to Ganelon in Sign of the Unicorn, says that Oberon had two other sons with Benedict's mother Cymnea, the first being Osric, who shares his name with a courtier in Hamlet.
  • In Nine Princes in Amber Corwin thinks to himself, "In the state of Denmark there was an odor of decay." A reference to "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark", a line in Hamlet.
  • When Corwin first meets Eric in Nine Princes in Amber, Eric complains "It's true, that uneasy-lies-the-head bit." "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" is the final line in a monologue spoken by Henry IV in Act III, Scene i, of Henry IV, part 2 wherein Henry is pondering how sleep comes to even the most humble peasant easier than it does to the great.
  • In addition, there are greater thematic allusions in the Chronicles, mostly to Hamlet. Corwin describes himself at the beginning of The Courts of Chaos as the "mad prince" of Amber, drawing a clear parallel between himself and the mad prince of Denmark. In addition, Corwin is contacted by the "ghost" of Oberon several times (before realizing that Oberon still lives), an obvious parallel to the plot of Hamlet. When dining with Lorraine, Corwin even refers to the attempted Trump contact by Oberon as a message from his "father's ghost".
  • The Forest of Arden is the setting of Shakespeare's As You Like It.
  • The rivalry between Corwin and Eric roughly parallels the Wars of the Roses, as portrayed in Shakespeare's "Wars of the Roses" cycle. Corwin's symbol, a silver rose, echoes the House of York's symbol, a white rose, and Eric's chosen color, red, echoes the House of Lancaster's symbol, a red rose.


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