Sign of Chaos is the eighth book of The Chronicles of Amber; an epic fantasy series written by six-time Hugo Award winning and three-time Nebula Award winning author, Roger Zelazny.
The ten books that make up the series are told in two story arcs: The Corwin Cycle and the Merlin Cycle.
Narrator Wil Wheaton, who won the 2012 Audie Award for his engaging performance of Fuzzy Nation, brings this classic series to a stunning close by giving voice to Merlin, Corwin’s son, in the final five books of the series.
Following the cliffhanger ending of Blood of Amber, Merlin is stranded in surrealistic Alice in Wonderland-esque bar where the Mad Hatter serves cocktails. Managing to escape, Merlin meets new family members--one of whom is intent on killing him. As events escalate, Merlin finds himself surrounded by his worst enemies including his ex-girlfriend--back from the dead.
©1987 The Amber Corporation (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I first met Zelazny's Princes in Amber books a long time ago. By the 7th or 8th book they became a little too formulaic, but still enjoyable. Much, much better than the recent spate of twinkling vampires and ethical werewolves. I'd love to see these books rewritten in the depth of "Tales of Ice and Fire", or "Harry Potter'. Zelazny has the mythology charted, but his palette, however entertaining, is a bit narrow.
"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” -- Somerset Maugham
This second Amber series gets progressively better each book. Two changes in the writing I noticed in this one. In the last book there was a hell of a lot of recap. Holy crap! Like one full chapter at the beginning and a long passage midway. Plus characters telling each other what happened in previous chapters. Also, Merle continued in his obtuseness through the entire second book, and it was essentially his blindness to events and forces around him that drove the plot. In this one, however, Zelazny starts in the middle of the action and then works in a short recap in a less objectionable fashion. After that, it's off to the races. And there are overt references made to Merle getting his head out of his ass and starting to think things through rather than being so gullible. So the writing, pacing, and plotting are notably better. Some of the mysteries start to unfold, which is a welcome change after two books of setting them up. Seems like Z likes this five books format with the middle one being a sort of bridge/turn.
On a different note, I have been remiss in mentioning that Wil Wheaton narrates this second series. The narrator for the first Amber series (Alessandro Juliani) was a complete ham! So terrible. Every voice had a different accent/nationality, and all of them were goofy caricatures of the real world thing. (A drawling westerner, a feisty scotsman, etc.) So maybe I just love Wil here because he is not Alessandro. But I listened to his reading of Agent to the Stars a while back and was pleasantly surprised. He is a damn fine narrator, actually, and I think he is the perfect personality for this series. He keeps a sort of light/fun tone that works well with the material.
With things heating up for Merlin he'll have to escape peril and make alliances with unexpected magicians. Enjoy this well read book. I certainly did.
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