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.
Across the worlds of Shadow, Corwin, Prince of blood royal, heir to the throne of Amber, gathers his forces for an assault that will yield up to him the crown that is rightfully his. But, a growing darkness of his own doing threatens Corwin's plans, an evil that stretches to the heart of the perfect kingdom itself where the demonic forces of Chaos mass to annihilate Amber and all who would rule there.
©1972 Roger Zelazny (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
We can be brief in part, because if you are considering this book, you likely already picked up “Nine Princes in Amber” and if you haven’t I strongly recommend that you do. I am not sure the story will be an easy one to pick up at this point. This story is just as fine as the last, and the journey is as wonderful as I remember. Corwin’s plan to reclaim what he views as his right and revenge himself upon Eric while at the same time struggling with the harm he has done and trying to fit all of this within his new (within the life of an immortal anyway) found morality and empathy drives the story and prepares him for what comes next.
As for the performance, it’s still better than many I have heard. However, some of the voices are still troubling me. I’m not sure why Texan and Southern accents are slipping into the voices of nobles from Amber and the Courts, but it might be a bit silly to find that troubling. After all, why not? These are people who can travel to any reality and live there for centuries. Still, I found a few of the voice choices at odds with how the character is presented in the story. However, Corwin’s voice is just fine, and that’s the one we hear for most of the tale.
And remember to be on the lookout for the famous quote that is the title of this review!
Kat at FanLit
Warning, from me: If you haven’t read Nine Princes in Amber yet, don’t read this review.
Another warning, from Corwin: “Never trust a relative. It is far worse than trusting strangers.”
Corwin has escaped from his brother’s prison and he’s ready for revenge. He doesn’t have the manpower that Eric has, so he needs a technological advantage. Traditional firearms don’t work in Amber, but Corwin once noticed that a jewelers’ rouge from the shadow world of Avalon, where he used to rule, is combustible in Amber. So here’s his plan: get some money (pretty easy to do when you can create your own worlds), purchase a huge amount of jeweler’s rouge, and commission some custom-made firearms that use the rouge to shoot silver bullets (he’s not sure other metals will work). Oh, and raise an army. No problem!
The problem is that Eric may no longer be the biggest threat in Amber. Because of Corwin’s curse, Amber is being assailed by the forces of Chaos. The evil is also manifest in the shadow worlds that Corwin is trying to exploit and he must frequently stop and deal with the nasty creatures it serves up. Along the way Corwin meets old friends and enemies, makes new friends and enemies, and does at least one more impetuous thing that will come back to bite him later.
In The Guns of Avalon (1972), Corwin, who had gained our sympathies in Nine Princes in Amber because of how he was treated by Eric, becomes something of an anti-hero. Because of his rash actions, beautiful Amber has been invaded by horror. Corwin realizes that he has caused much destruction, he knows he has wrought evil, and he tells himself that he hopes to destroy more evil than he creates. The reader begins to wonder, however, if Corwin is blinded by hate for his brother. Is Corwin’s claim to the throne legitimate enough to justify all the death and terror that he’s caused? We’re certainly not convinced that Corwin would be a better King than Eric is. Corwin is a rather ambiguous hero.
Still, it’s hard not to root for Amber, if not for Corwin himself. Roger Zelazny has created a magical world that we’re eager to explore, preferably in a time of peace. We haven’t had much chance to do so yet since we’ve only seen it from Corwin’s perspective, and that means that for most of the time we’ve been in Amber, we’ve been in the dungeon. At the end The Guns of Avalon Zelazny leaves us with many questions unanswered and two major twists. You’ll want to have the next book, Sign of the Unicorn, ready to go.
I’m listening to Alessandro Juliani narrate Audible Frontiers’ version of The Guns of Avalon. He’s doing a great job, though I did not like the Southern drawl that he chose for two of the major characters (they call it “Ambuh”). It didn’t seem appropriate. With so many characters, I think he feels that he must give each a distinctive voice, so to do that he’s using unlikely accents or vocal properties (e.g., hoarseness or high pitch) to make them unique. I think that’s a mistake, but other than that, his reading is very good.
Originally posted at FanLit.
I have loved the Amber series for nigh on thirty years, since I first discovered it as a teen ager. This series is magical in its language, portrays fascinating personal and moral struggles set against a tremendously imagined world. All this I love. The narration is decidedly the weak point in this rendition.
It might be easier to sum up what I liked. His Corwin is well done, with a good grasp of the character. Just about everyone else is a miss. In this performance, the character of Ganalon is turned into an upper-class twit, and somehow Benedict and Dara become refugees from the Ante-Bellum South. Random remains a cross between someone from the Revenge of the Nerds and a really bad Peter Lorre on meth.
Yes, write a scathing review of a performance, something I am not usually called upon to do on this otherwise wonderful site.
I gave the book three stars overall, despite my distaste for the narrator's choices in characterization. The Guns of Avalon is the weakest of the first five Amber books, having to do a lot of backing and filling and introduce large chunks of exposition that were necessarily delayed by the story conventions required in the first book by amnesia and a deft pacing that left no time to breathe, let alone fill in back story. Still, it's a four-star story for me, the only one that isn't five. I just wish Juliani didn't make a number of the characters sound like muppets, it makes me sad. I'm afraid I can't really recommend the reading of this series here presented, and will only go on in a dimming hope it gets better, and since I already bought the bloody thing.
Love the story
The voices were not very good, Random's was too whiny and giving Benedict and Dara a southern accent was a bit distracting and I believe in Nine Princes in Amber he had Gerard with a Scottish accent and it was gone in this book.
I very much enjoyed the first book and couldn't wait to get this one. I was just as good.
He is great. He just grabs you and you just loves listening to him
Corwin has always been one of my literary heroes, in a similar vein to the reluctant heroes of Moorcock's work and to Howard's Conan.
As the saga continues Corwin has the opportunity to revisit the past as reconstructured by his brother; rather than wallow in the regret of the past he sees how his brother Benedict has made good Corwin's mistakes. And so Corwin's journey continues, until corwin can grasp his dream.
Mr Juliani's performance in Nine Princes in Amber was inspiring and here he continues to deliver the story as though it were real life rather than fiction from a truly great author.
It's terrible when the narrator messes up a great story. I love the Amber books, but this narrator makes half of the characters sound like driveling idiots... the whole five book story arc should be told in one voice, the voice of the protagonist as it is him narrating his story from his perspective at the end of it all.
"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!
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.
The Guns of Avalon is one of my favorite of the five because it has a kind of micro-story that reflects the larger story, but has a feel all its own. Having uttered a curse in book 1, Corwin (the narrator/protagonist) must deal with the product of his own dark side.
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.
"A great auther"
Story – 5/5
I am really glad I gave this series a go. Although it is very different to anything else I have come across in the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre, it has quickly become a favourite of mine. It is clever, witty, fast paced and full of action. The originality keeps things fresh and intriguing, making you want to learn more about such a complex world/universe, of which these first 2 books have only touched on the surface.
The new characters are strongly established in a short amount of time, while Corwin and his brothers were expanded upon nicely. I thought the overall characterisation was done better in this book than the first. There is a bit of romance, which although could have been better if developed over more time, was enjoyable enough.
Performance – 4.5/5
Alessandro Juliani did a fantastic job again; consistent with the first audiobook. One of the reasons for the short length of the audiobook is because he reads it so fast. I thought it helped to sweep me along with the fast paced story quite nicely.
His voice acting was very good – each character having a distinct voice, and he suited Corwin’s narration very nicely; matching the humour and matter-of-fact personality perfectly.
Overall – 5/5
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