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August 17, 2009 / jadettman

Amber Influences

I’ve been thinking about Amber more lately due, I’m sure, in no small part to my work on Intro to Amber. What I’ve been thinking about  today, specifically, is the non-Amber books that have influenced my thinking about the Amber setting:

  • Jack of Shadows: a wacky, mythic precursor to Amber. You can see a lot of the same story elements in this much shorter work.
  • Lord Demon: one of Zelazny’s later works with Jane Lindskold. It has influenced my thoughts about the beginnings of the Amber universe, pre-Amber, and the role of demons in the Courts of Chaos.
  • Songs of Earth and Power: [Greg Bear] a story about a young man that finds his way into Faerie and ends up quite powerful. This one has good material on power, responsibility, and being manipulated. It also has influenced my thinking on the nature of the Courts of Chaos.
  • Job: A Comedy of Justice: [Robert A. Heinlein] about a man who keeps jumping between universes but doesn’t know why. Influenced my thinking on the power structure of the Amber universe. There are always deeper layers.
  • A Sorcerer and a Gentleman: [Elizabeth Willey] about a powerful sorcerer who had his throne stolen from him by his younger brother. Good material about sources of power, family politics, and style. Amberites should have style.
  • To Reign in Hell: [Steven Brust] politics in a world newly formed. Good stuff for thinking about the early Courts.
  • Five Hundred Years After: [Steven Brust] like The Three Musketeers but with magic. More thoughts on why Amberites should have style, and manners.
  • The Black Company: [Glen Cook] mercenaries fight for the wrong side in a war of mages. You don’t have to be the most powerful people around to be important.
  • Dune: [Frank Herbert] interstellar politics meet prophecy and fanaticism. Politics and an ancient culture make good Courts of Chaos material.
  • Swordspoint: [Ellen Kushner] politics and sword-fighting. People are afraid of crazy, unpredictable people, sword-fighting is cool, and, frequently, who you know matters.

Now, clearly, these are just a small number of the books that have influenced my thinking about Amber as a roleplaying setting. I feel that they are some of the more important ones, though.

Sadly, at least two of them are no longer in print. Remind me the next time you see me and perhaps you can borrow them.  😉


One Comment

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  1. Dan / Aug 17 2009 10:09 am

    Jack of Shadows is interesting, I thought, because it’s basically… well, as far as I can tell, it’s the usual Zelazny story involving Corwin. Oops, did I say Corwin? I meant to say “some powerful immortal character who is part of an exclusive cadre yet set apart from them all in some significant way. And also quite irreverent.”
    So, yeah, Corwin.

    I just can’t help feeling like all his protagonists are the same. They’re an interesting formulaic character, but it’s pretty much the same guy in all of them. When reading Lord of Light and Jack of Shadows, I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were really about Corwin, off in some Shadow. Which is not a problem I have with most authors, I would have to say.

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