Sign of the Unicorn is the third 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.
The Audible audio rendition of this classic sci-fi/fantasy series is started off by 2012 Audie Award nominee, Alessandro Juliani, who reads the first five books that make up the Corwin Cycle and whose narration vividly brings the world of Amber to life.
Accepting the responsibilities as ruler to the world of Amber, Corwin finds himself the target of sibling treachery, and must seek guidance in a land of visions, where a sinister prediction foretells his doom.
©1975 Roger Zelazny (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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Originally posted at FanLit.
Sign of the Unicorn is the third novel in Roger Zelazny’s CHRONICLES OF AMBER. At the end of the previous novel, The Guns of Avalon, Corwin finally got what he wanted: Eric off the throne. Corwin is now the regent of Amber by legitimate claim and he holds the Jewel of Judgment which has powers over the weather and, as Corwin learns, other powers that may be dangerous to its owner.
You’d think that things might now be easy for Corwin, but not so. The forces of Chaos are crossing into Amber from the shadow worlds, and they must be stopped. But Corwin’s most immediate concern is treachery from his scheming siblings. One of them has just been murdered and someone is trying to frame Corwin. During the fallout, other murder attempts occur. It’s clear that Corwin is not safe as long as his siblings are alive, but he doesn’t know which of them he can trust. During his interactions with them he learns a lot of the history that he has been unaware of while spending centuries on Earth without his memory of Amber. These stories slow the action but serve to enlighten us further about Amber, the Shadow worlds, how the trumps and the pattern work, the alliances between the siblings, how Corwin lost his memories, and what may have happened to their father Oberon. Of course, Corwin knows that some of his siblings may not be telling him the truth… Looking for guidance, Corwin visits Tir-na Nog’th, the city of moonlight. Instead of the answers he wants, he receives ominous visions which suggest that the real truth is even more frightening than the petty sibling rivalries Corwin has been dealing with.
Sign of the Unicorn continues Corwin’s swiftly moving adventure. Things slow down a bit during this installment while the siblings tell their stories, but there are lots of revelations and plot twists to make up for that. One thing that’s lacking in these stories, so far, is a sense of what Amber is like beyond of the realm of the royal family. We see very few people who aren’t related to Corwin — not even household servants. The story is so focused on the family intrigue that we really don’t get to know Amber outside that context, which is somewhat disappointing.
Sign of the Unicorn definitely doesn’t stand alone — you need to read the previous books, Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon, first — and after the final revelation in Sign of the Unicorn, you won’t be able to stop there either, so plan to have the fourth book, The Hand of Oberon, ready. In fact, go ahead and get the fifth book, The Courts of Chaos, because the end of The Hand of Oberon is a doozy, too.
I read the entire CHRONICLES OF AMBER twenty years ago and am re-reading them now that they’ve been produced by Audible Frontiers. Each installment is rather short (only 5 or 6 hours on audio) which was usual for fantasy novels published back in 1970. Some of them had been previously serialized before being released in book form. The AMBER CHRONICLES are short and entertaining, but the length of each volume is something I’d consider when deciding whether or not to spend an Audible credit on them, especially since there are 10 books in the series (divided into two ARC). They are relatively inexpensive, though, and they’re certain to show up in Audible’s frequent sales. Alessandro Juliani does a great job with the narration — I really like him.
There are a lot of positive reviews popping up in support of this rendition of the Chronicles Of Amber. They are well deserved. Very original and at times very funny. The narration is excellent.
Roger Zelazny also wrote an excellent novel called the Lord Of Light and it was available through Audible in the not too distant past. Right now it is unavailable. As much as I am loving Amber, I think the Lord Of Light might be better and I encourage you all to request it as it is definitely in my top 5 and it should not be lost in the shuffle of publishing rights mumbojumbo. Request on, faithful readers/listeners.
The book is made to be listened to. Zelazny's books are narratives, told by the main character. It's like sitting with Corwyn as he is telling his story.
Off the top of my head, I would say Tolkien's Ring saga. Those books also set an atmosphere where magic is natural and characters are larger than life.
As in all of the first five books, the voice of the book is Corwyn's. He is my favorite, although I am kind of partial to Fiona, as well.She is one of the strongest female characters in the books.
Yes, the plot is intricate, full of twists and surprises. It is hard to break off the story.th
A working stiff who loves to read. My taste range from Syfy and fantasy to history and politics. Read at you own risk!
A great performance to one of my favorite series from one of the best fantasy writers. Any of the young listeners to get to know one of the best writers in America.
Corwin is just the glue that pushes this story along.
Tough to pin down just one but I love the interaction between Corwin and Random. Great banter.
As a young man I spent a great deal of my time reading the Chronicles of Amber. I became Corwin in his Adventures to Amber and into shadow. Sign of the Unicorn points us towards the climax of the chronicles. This reading, sorry, performance is just how it played out in my mind. Great job.
He who read this story made the tale come alive for me. Thank you.
I shall continue to listen so long as he continues to read the story to me.
"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” -- Somerset Maugham
First of all, DON'T START READING WITH THIS BOOK. Go back and read Nine Princes in Amber first! Then pick up Guns of Avalon. This book is #3 and it is not a stand-alone.
I still enjoy this series despite a long-standing familiarity that threatens to "breed discontent" as I recognize some of the messiness in the writing. It's just too easy to forgive the flaws in this series, partially because the writing is energetic and the plot is fast-paced. There no "throw-away" parts of this five-book story.
Sign of the Unicorn is a bridge plot that pays off some of the mysteries seeded in books 1 and 2 and sets the stage for the final push of 4 and 5. (If this were Star Wars, Sign of the Unicorn would be The Empire Strikes Back.) A lot happens in this one but it is not a coherent story on its own.
Having established himself on the throne of Amber, Corwin uncovers a plot against his homeland in the form of strange forces from Chaos that, perhaps, had inside help.
Read by a master performer, written by a scientist poet, it simply doesn't get any better than this. The story is compelling, the characters are fascinating, the philosophy that underpins the series is frankly brilliant: all that would put this series on the list of books to read and reread every year or so; but then add to that Juliani's performance and this series becomes one of the few that you'll miss terribly the moment you have stopped reading it.
My favorite stories, brilliantly narrated. I wonder if if having an actress to read the women's parts might make it better yet.
Originally, I listened to this series many, many times in the abridged format, since the recordings were out of print and I could not obtain the unabridged format. The series was read by the author. The master recordings were found, according to the first two unabridged audiobooks read by Roger Zelazny that I have on CD. I love this storyline, and have often wondered how the author conceived the series, since it is unlike any other. This series is even mentioned in the Nightside series by Simon R. Green. (Listen carefully, when the Amber Prince disappears along with the diner). However, after hearing Mr. Zelazny read these audiobooks, it is quite hard to listen to the new narrator. I miss the gravely intonations, and the narration that Mr. Zelazny wrought. I do not like Random's voice, especially since the character - well, just listen and you will find out what happens. Bottom line, this series is a must have, no matter the narrator.
I can only reiterate my review of Nine Princes in Amber. This is part of a quintology and, I feel, needs to be read or heard as one book as the story arc starts with Book 1 and finishes with Book 5. I read this book and also the subsequent four books years ago and was totally enthralled by them. I've been waiting a long time to get them on audio. The story is still brilliant but feel the performance could be improved upon. Alessandro Juliani does a good job but I feel audio books would really benefit from having a narrator and a different actors for the different characters. There is a limit to what one person can do by way of changing voices and it is sometimes difficult for a male to replicate a female voice and vice versa. However, having said the above, I really enjoyed the experience of Nine Princes in Amber and the subsequent four books of the quintology in audio.
forget anything else this is a real masterpiece of fantasy and scifi literature. and beyond.
"A good bridge no doubt"
Story – 4/5
I didn’t enjoy this 3rd book quite as much as the other two. Mainly because it seemed to be trying tie up all the loose historical ends with the princes/princesses of Amber ready for what is to come. Random’s story at the start was really long, and probably could have been shorter, but this is already a small story. Saying that, there are some interesting things happening in the story, which are very intriguing, so if this was a middle section of a larger book, it wouldn’t have been an issue at all.
I am glad I got the first 3 novels in a 3 for 2 sale, as it probably isn’t good value for money for 1 credit – where the first 2 probably were….just about.
Performance – 4.5/5
I have given Alessandro Juliani 5/5 up until now, but the large Random story at the start made me realise how annoying that character’s voice is. Don’t get me wrong, it is very fitting to the character’s personality, but it would have been better if toned down a little for what seemed like 1 hour of the audiobook. Other than that – flawless; great voice acting and narration.
Overall – 4/5
"Another great book of Amber."
Great stuff, would have been better if they had a female voice for the female parts, but this is a minor quibble. (Mostly because the female characters are minor!) Some of my favourite books of all time.
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