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  1. #1

    Chronicles of Amber

    So I'm reading Amber, on book 3 Unicorn. I am also listening to the audio books, which Zelazny does himself. I can't quite decide if I like this series or not. Does it get better? I was told by a friend that books 1-5 are good, but 5-10 are not. Is this universally true, or do you have a different opinion? Also, anyone listen to the audio books? Zelazny, imo, isn't very good. He has almost no inflection in his voice. Every line is a monotone, matter of fact, statement. It's odd, and I feel it may be hurting my desire to read/listen. When I was reading and listening to Mistborn I was loving it. I would listen to it on my way home, in the bathroom, etc. This one..not so much.

  2. #2
    Couch Commander Danogzilla's Avatar
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    This has been in my TBR stacks for a long time now. I'm excited to read it, but it just never seems to happen. Maybe I'll make it a priority for later in the winter. For what it's worth, Chris, I've heard the first five are great, the last five are good.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Danogzilla View Post
    This has been in my TBR stacks for a long time now. I'm excited to read it, but it just never seems to happen. Maybe I'll make it a priority for later in the winter. For what it's worth, Chris, I've heard the first five are great, the last five are good.
    Yeah same, I've had this book forever. And honestly, the only reason I'm reading it is because I finished The Hobbit and Red Country so quickly lately that I needed another book to read. I wanted to read something else, but found out they were purchased for Christmas, so I needed something that would take roughly until Christmas. This happened to be one of the few I had sitting at home that fit the bill. I don't dislike it, I am just not sure.

    Some crazy things are happening lately that it feels more like a murder mystery novel than fantasy. Which isn't a bad thing, since there are fantasy elements to it.

    Another thing I find odd, which I have mentioned in other threads around here. Older authors. Out of the only older type authors I've read. LeGuin, Tolkien, Zelazny. They are all telling their story from one character POV. It's basically that character telling the story of some event or journey. So we don't get other POV's. I much prefer varying POV tellings. Would I be wrong in saying that this used to be a preferred method of story telling, and nowadays it is not? Or am I just coincidentally reading the books that do it that way.

  4. #4
    As Danogzilla says - the first 5 are great and the later series is good.

    Quote Originally Posted by chris777 View Post
    Another thing I find odd, which I have mentioned in other threads around here. Older authors. Out of the only older type authors I've read. LeGuin, Tolkien, Zelazny. They are all telling their story from one character POV. It's basically that character telling the story of some event or journey. So we don't get other POV's. I much prefer varying POV tellings. Would I be wrong in saying that this used to be a preferred method of story telling, and nowadays it is not? Or am I just coincidentally reading the books that do it that way.
    Yes in the "old" days authors were able to hold the readers attention with one POV, and maybe the readers were not so AD (not to mention books were not 1000 pages long).

  5. #5
    Registered User gljones's Avatar
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    The Amber series (first 5) are on my "Best Of" list. Question is, best of what? I think they are hard to classify and I also think they are an aquired taste as they are written from a perspective that a lot of "Fantasy Genre" books are not written in.
    I agree wholeheartedly with the other comments, the first 5 are great, while the second set are OK.

  6. #6
    The New ... MARK LAWRENCE Mark Lawrence's Avatar
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    I read the first few an age ago and bought the Great Book of Amber a couple of years back to read through. I seem to hold a higher opinion of the early ones than the responders above and a lower opinion of the later ones. Having read all 10 in one splurge I found book 1 excellent, 2 and 3 great and so on until by books 9 and 10 I really wasn't enjoying myself at all.

    So unless you're a very different reader to me (entirely possible) I would say if you didn't like book 1, stop there.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Lawrence View Post
    I read the first few an age ago and bought the Great Book of Amber a couple of years back to read through. I seem to hold a higher opinion of the early ones than the responders above and a lower opinion of the later ones. Having read all 10 in one splurge I found book 1 excellent, 2 and 3 great and so on until by books 9 and 10 I really wasn't enjoying myself at all.

    So unless you're a very different reader to me (entirely possible) I would say if you didn't like book 1, stop there.
    I'm slightly worried then. While I have breezed through books 1-3, I am now on book4. I find myself not that excited to keep reading. I wouldn't say I didn't like book 1 or any of them so far. I would say, for me, they are just good enough to keep going. I am curious to how he explains the rest of this. So if my enjoyment is likely to go down, this might be a struggle. And I'm getting a lot of good books for Christmas!
    Last edited by chris777; December 14th, 2012 at 10:34 AM.

  8. #8
    Don't think you need to read all ten books. The first 5 are a series complete. The second five are a sequel written a decade later.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by cgw View Post
    Don't think you need to read all ten books. The first 5 are a series complete. The second five are a sequel written a decade later.
    Hrmm.. Good point. I did not know that. Now the question remains, do I want to leave a "book" unread. Becuase I purchased the Big Book of Amber. So I would only have it half-read. =/ And my OCD doesn't like half-read. Unless it sucks bad enough that I can't bring myself to finish it.

  10. #10
    Just finished first 5 last night. They were okay. Nothing special. Which makes my decision to read the next ones tough. Since i have 5days until I get my new books, I will probably start book6 and see how it is.

  11. #11
    Cthulhu's Red Bucket Lucas Thorn's Avatar
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    i loved the first amber series. i thought it was intriguing. kind of a more adult-themed narnia.

    your pov observation was interesting, too. i think part of that was also down to book size. the amber books are quite small, which is why they're often bound into one volume. a lot of fantasy was quite pulpish at the time. the drive to writing massive epics has kind of made people think if they're buying a small book, then they're not getting their money's worth. this is more obvious with fantasy readers.

    i am personally feeling myself drawn back to the older pulpish style of novel. i love their compact nature. their incisive story which seems more focussed. for me, epics are getting more and more like reading a non-fiction history book. a lot of the time they lack energy. or any heroic sense of proportion. many suffer from "stephen kingism", which is to have thousands of pages of practical soap opera followed by a quick chapter to round it all off and tie up any loose ends. maybe an epilogue in which everyone gets married and has a laugh about something. there's also an element of fantastic surrealism in the shorter novels which has given way to a thirst for absolute realism which is sad. like we want fantasy documentaries rather than fantasy stories.

    more and more i find myself drawn to more pace-driven fantasy. and what's odd, is that era of zelazny and moorcock is an era where it wasn't necessarily violent action. often it could just as well be presented in dialogue. there was more dialogue, less description of the finer details of what the architecture was like for the privvy.

    sorry to hear you didn't feel overwhelmed by amber. i thought it was an adventurous plot. having said that, my favourite zelazny book was "roadmarks".

    hope i didn't go off on too much of a tangent, but zelazny's one of my favourite authors

  12. #12
    Registered User gljones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Thorn View Post
    i loved the first amber series. i thought it was intriguing. kind of a more adult-themed narnia.

    your pov observation was interesting, too. i think part of that was also down to book size. the amber books are quite small, which is why they're often bound into one volume. a lot of fantasy was quite pulpish at the time. the drive to writing massive epics has kind of made people think if they're buying a small book, then they're not getting their money's worth. this is more obvious with fantasy readers.

    i am personally feeling myself drawn back to the older pulpish style of novel. i love their compact nature. their incisive story which seems more focussed. for me, epics are getting more and more like reading a non-fiction history book. a lot of the time they lack energy. or any heroic sense of proportion. many suffer from "stephen kingism", which is to have thousands of pages of practical soap opera followed by a quick chapter to round it all off and tie up any loose ends. maybe an epilogue in which everyone gets married and has a laugh about something. there's also an element of fantastic surrealism in the shorter novels which has given way to a thirst for absolute realism which is sad. like we want fantasy documentaries rather than fantasy stories.

    more and more i find myself drawn to more pace-driven fantasy. and what's odd, is that era of zelazny and moorcock is an era where it wasn't necessarily violent action. often it could just as well be presented in dialogue. there was more dialogue, less description of the finer details of what the architecture was like for the privvy.

    sorry to hear you didn't feel overwhelmed by amber. i thought it was an adventurous plot. having said that, my favourite zelazny book was "roadmarks".

    hope i didn't go off on too much of a tangent, but zelazny's one of my favourite authors
    He's one of my favorites as well. I loved the first series , they are a solid lock on my top 10 list. I was disapointed by the second set, but they were still "ok" I guess. At any rate, the POV was unique and really was different as you really got inside the main characters head, and you don't see that much in the fantasy genre.

  13. #13
    I would also say that the Amber series is not Zelazny's best. On the other hand it is still great and if you don't like it you may not like his other works.
    Qualification - I have a couple Zelazny books on both my top 10 fantasy and my top 10 scifi.

    P.S. If you insist on multiple POV try Changeling.

  14. #14
    I personally don't insist on multiple POV. Just seems like the older authors, particularly the ones I seem to not enjoy as much, tend towards one POV. Which has just made me a little trepidatious to read anything written prior to like, the 80s. Even WoT and Feist's magician were in early 80s. Is that even a fair statement? "I don't like anything written pre-80s". I feel like it's unfair, but so far it's been true.

    Here are some older books on my To-Read pile that I'm a little scared of:
    The Book of the New Sun (Gene Wolfe)
    The Dying Earth Trilogy (Jack Vance)
    Riddle Master Trilogy (Patricia A. McKillip)
    The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Stephen Donaldson)

  15. #15
    Cthulhu's Red Bucket Lucas Thorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris777 View Post
    I personally don't insist on multiple POV. Just seems like the older authors, particularly the ones I seem to not enjoy as much, tend towards one POV. Which has just made me a little trepidatious to read anything written prior to like, the 80s. Even WoT and Feist's magician were in early 80s. Is that even a fair statement? "I don't like anything written pre-80s". I feel like it's unfair, but so far it's been true.

    Here are some older books on my To-Read pile that I'm a little scared of:
    The Book of the New Sun (Gene Wolfe)
    The Dying Earth Trilogy (Jack Vance)
    Riddle Master Trilogy (Patricia A. McKillip)
    The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Stephen Donaldson)
    i'd say it often depends on what you grow up with and get used to. and if you don't enjoy it, there's not much you can do about that. them are some great names on your list there, though, and it would be a shame not to give them a try.

    of them all, it's donaldson who made the most impact on me. that series is just so . . . dark? the main character is very tortured. actually, you've read jordan's wheel of time series? i always believed rand was based heavily on thomas covenant. especially around the middle of the series. that whole tortured bitter, yet stubborn, attitude. something about rand always reminded me of covenant. i personally love covenant because he's one of the most human characters in a series. possibly so human it's uncomfortable. so human, in fact, that not many people make it past the first few chapters...

    the other thing to think about with these books pre-80s, is they were also often trying to say something from a social or political angle. i find these days, a lot of fantasy is much less commentary and more soap opera to try and fill up page counts. perhaps that in itself is a comment? might sound harsh, but it's a theory i have as to why scifi has definitely been diminished. there's not as many pure scifi authors as there are fantasy. and i think it's because scifi was much more about commentary, and people aren't really into that anymore.

    just something to think about

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