The First Chronicles of AmberEdit
Nine Princes in Amber (1970)Edit
- I was garbed all in white, the color of vanilla ice cream and Moby Dick. Ugly.
- I saw the Old Moon with the New Moon in her arms, hovering above a row of poplars. The grass was silvery and sparkled. The night was bargaining weakly with the sun.
- Anyone who tried to hurt me, to use me, did so at his own peril and now he would receive his due, whoever he was, this one. I felt a strong desire to kill, to destroy whomever had been responsible, and I knew it was not the first time in my life that I had felt this thing, and I knew that I had followed through on it in the past.
The blood billowed above them, and I suddenly realized I had
known mad, sad, bad Vincent Van Gogh
, and it was really too bad he couldn't have painted this.
- Of all my relations, I like sex the best and Eric the least.
- The blood billowed above them, and I suddenly realized I had known mad, sad, bad Vincent Van Gogh, and it was really too bad he couldn't have painted this.
- I had gained a piece of myself.
I saw the paper skins and the knobby, stick-like bones of the dead of Auschwitz. I had been present at Nuremberg, I knew. I heard the voice of Stephen Spender reciting "Vienna," and I saw Mother Courage cross the stage on the night of a Brecht premiere. I saw the rockets leap up from the stained hard places, Peenemunde, Vandenberg, Kennedy, Kyzyl Kum in Kazakhstan, and I touched with my hands the Wall of China. We were drinking beer and wine, and Shaxpur said he was drunk and went off to puke. I entered the green forests of the Western Reserve and took three scalps one day. I hummed a tune as we marched along and it caught on. It became "Auprès de ma blonde." I remembered, I remembered... my life within the Shadow place its inhabitants had called the Earth.
- The land was known as Avernus, and the assembled troops were not quite men. I reviewed them the following morning, walking behind Bleys. They were all of them around seven feet in height, had very red skins and little hair, catlike eyes, and six-digited hands and feet. They wore garments that looked as light as silk, but were woven of something else and were mainly gray or blue in color. Each bore two short blades, hooked at the end. Their ears were pointed and their many fingers clawed.
The climate was warm and the colors bewildering, and everyone thought we were gods.
- I walked among shadows, and found a race of furry creatures, dark and clawed and fanged, reasonably man-like, and about as intelligent as a freshman in the high school of your choice — sorry, kids, but what I mean is they were loyal, devoted, honest, and too easily screwed by bastards like me and my brother. I felt like the dee-jay of your choice.
- My sight was returning to me, that's what it meant — that lovely patch of brightness, off somewhere to my right.
- I have transformed the peaceful Valley of Garnath into what it now represented: a symbol of my hate for Eric and for all those others who had stood by and let him get away with his power grab, let him blind me.
The Guns of Avalon (1972)Edit
The grasses darkened and shone like metal within it, but did not die. The trees twisted and their leaves blackened. They swayed when there was no wind, and bats danced and darted among them. In the twilight, strange shapes could be seen moving — always within the Circle, mind you — and there were lights, as of small fires, throughout the night. The Circle continued to grow, and those who lived near it fled — mostly.
- "Mon Dieu!" he said. "I am pleased never to have had you for an enemy. Are you certain you are not the Devil?"
"Yeah, sure," I said. "Don't you smell the brimstone? And my right hoof is killing me."
He actually sniffed a couple times before he chuckled, which hurt my feelings a bit.
- "I am told it began as a tiny ring of toadstools, far to the west. A child was found dead in its center, and the man who found her - her father - died of convulsions several days later. The spot was immediately said to be accursed. It grew quickly in the months that followed, until it was half a league across. The grasses darkened and shone like metal within it, but did not die. The trees twisted and their leaves blackened. They swayed when there was no wind, and bats danced and darted among them. In the twilight, strange shapes could be seen moving — always within the Circle, mind you — and there were lights, as of small fires, throughout the night. The Circle continued to grow, and those who lived near it fled — mostly. A few remained. It was said that those who remained had struck some bargain with the dark things. And the Circle continued to widen, spreading like the ripple from a rock cast into a pond. More and more people remained, living, within it. I have spoken with these people, fought with them, slain them. It is as if there is something dead inside them all. Their voices lack the thrust and dip of men chewing over their words and tasting them.
- Ganelon explaining the origins of the Dark Circle of Lorraine, Ch. I
- I smiled. "Of course it does not apply to me. I am the soul of honor, kindness, mercy, and goodness. Trust me in all things."
- While I had always said that I wanted to die in bed, what I really meant was that in my old age I wanted to be stepped on by an elephant while making love.
- It was almost a mystical experience. I do not know how else to put it. My mind outran time as he neared, and it was as though I had an eternity to ponder the approach of this man who was my brother. His garments were filthy, his face blackened, the stump of his right arm raised, gesturing anywhere. The great beast that he rode was striped, black and red, with a wild red mane and tail. But it really was a horse, and its eyes rolled and there was foam at its mouth and its breathing was painful to hear. I saw then that he wore his blade slung across his back, for its haft protruded high above his right shoulder. Still slowing, eyes fixed upon me, he departed the road, bearing slightly toward my left, jerked the reins once and released them, keeping control of the horse with his knees. His left hand went up in a salute - like movement that passed above his head and seized the hilt of his weapon. It came free without a sound, describing a beautiful arc above him and coming to rest in a lethal position out from his left shoulder and slanting back, like a single wing of dull steel with a minuscule line of edge that gleamed like a filament of mirror. The picture he presented was burned into my mind with a kind of magnificence, a certain splendor that was strangely moving. The blade was a long, scythe like affair that I had seen him use before. Only then we had stood as allies against a mutual foe I had begun to believe unbeatable. Benedict had proved otherwise that night. Now that I saw it raised against me I was overwhelmed with a sense of my own mortality, which I had never experienced before in this fashion. It was as though a layer had been stripped from the world and I had a sudden, full understanding of death itself.
- Nobody steals books but your friends.
Sign of the Unicorn (1975)Edit
So Childe Random to the dark tower came, yeah, gun in one hand, blade in the other.
I played the Shadow game we all learned as children. Pass some obstruction — a scrawny tree, a stand of stone — and have the sky be different from one side to the other.
"If you herald some turn in our fortunes, if you bring us some measure of grace — thanks, unicorn," I said. "And even if you do not, thanks for the brightness of your company at a dark time."
- Of troubles I considered myself amply possessed. But those who have do seem to get. Some spiritual form of compound interest, I suppose.
- While sex heads a great number of lists, we all have other things we like to do in between. With me, Corwin, it's drumming, being up in the air, and gambling — in no special order. Well, maybe soaring has a little edge — in gliders, balloons, and certain variations — but mood has a lot to do with that too, you know. I mean, ask me another time and I might say one of the others. Depends on what you want most at the moment.
- So Childe Random to the dark tower came, yeah, gun in one hand, blade in the other.
- I played the Shadow game we all learned as children. Pass some obstruction — a scrawny tree, a stand of stone — and have the sky be different from one side to the other. Gradually I restored familiar constellations. I knew that I would be climbing down a different mountain from the one I ascended.
- To paraphrase Hamlet, Lear and all those other guys: I wish I had known this some time ago.
- For a moment I regarded the Pattern — a shining mass of curved lines that tricked the eye as it tried to trace them — imbedded there, huge, in the floor's slick blackness. It had given me power over Shadow, it had restored most of my memory. It would also destroy me in an instant if I were to essay it improperly. What gratitude the prospect did arouse in me was therefore not untinged with fear. It was a splendid and cryptic old family heirloom which belonged right where it was, in the cellar.
- If you herald some turn in our fortunes, if you bring us some measure of grace — thanks, unicorn," I said. "And even if you do not, thanks for the brightness of your company at a dark time.
- Life's incessant ceremonies leap everlasting, humans spring eternal on hope's breast, and frying pans without fires are often far between.
- Yes, but I wondered... I've a peculiar feeling that I may never see you again. It is as if I were one of those minor characters in a melodrama who gets shuffled offstage without ever learning how things turned out.
- Bill Roth (a minor character who eventually does learn how things turn out), Ch. 8
- How to put simply that which is not a simple thing . . . ? Solipsism, I suppose, is where we have to begin — the notion that nothing exists but the self, or, at least, that we cannot truly be aware of anything but our own existence and experience. I can find, somewhere, off in Shadow, anything I can visualize. Any of us can. This, in good faith, does not transcend the limits of the ego. It may be argued, and in fact has, by most of us, that we create the shadows we visit out of the stuff of our own psyches, that we alone truly exist, that the shadows we traverse are but projections of our own desires. . . . Whatever the merits of this argument, and there are several, it does go far toward explaining much of the family's attitude toward people, places, and things outside of Amber. Namely, we are toymakers and they, our playthings — sometimes dangerously animated, to be sure; but this, too, is part of the game. We are impresarios by temperament, and we treat one another accordingly. While solipsism does tend to leave one slightly embarrassed on questions of etiology, one can easily avoid the embarrassment by refusing to admit the validity of the questions. Most of us are, as I have often observed, almost entirely pragmatic in the conduct of our affairs. Almost. . .
Yet — yet there is a disturbing element in the picture. There is a place where the shadows go mad. . . . When you purposely push yourself through layer after layer of Shadow, surrendering — again, purposely — a piece of your understanding every step of the way, you come at last to a mad place beyond which you cannot go. Why do this? In hope of an insight. I'd say, or a new game . . . But when you come to this place, as we all have, you realize that you have reached the limit of Shadow or the end of yourself — synonymous terms, as we had always thought. Now, though. . .
Now I know that it is not so, now as I stand, waiting, without the Courts of Chaos, telling you what it was like, I know that it is not so.
- "Why have we been brought here and shown this thing?"
"It does not correspond to the true state of affairs," I said. "It is the true state of affairs."
Ganelon turned toward us.
"On that shadow Earth we visited — where you had spent so many years — I heard a poem about two roads that diverged in a wood," he said. "It ends, 'I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.' When I heard it, I thought of something you had once said — 'All roads lead to Amber' — and I wondered then, as I do now, at the difference the choice may make, despite the end's apparent inevitability to those of your blood."
"You know?" I said. "You understand?"
"I think so."
He nodded, then pointed.
"That is the real Amber down there, isn't it?"
"Yes," I said. "Yes, it is."
- Random, Ganelon, and Corwin, Ch. 11
The Hand of Oberon (1976)Edit
Have you any preferences? My flight from Chaos to this small sudden island in the sea of night? My meditations upon the abyss? The revelation of the Pattern in a jewel hung round the neck of a unicorn? My transcription of the design by lightning, blood, and lyre while our fathers raged baffled, too late come to call me back while the poem of fire ran that first route in my brain, infecting me with the will to form? Too late! Too late...
- About a week ago, brother Caine was murdered, under conditions arranged to show me as the culprit. The fact that I had slain his slayer was hardly satisfactory evidence of my innocence, in that the guy was necessarily in no condition to talk about it.
- [A] man should have the right to lead his own life without the meddling of relatives, no matter how well-intentioned.
- I closed my eyes, closed them to join her in darkness, to recall for a brief while the world where other messages than light waves took precedence.
- "Good evening. Lord Corwin," said the lean, cadaverous figure who rested against a storage rack, smoking his pipe, grinning around it.
"Good evening, Roger. How are things in the nether world?"
"A rat, a bat, a spider. Nothing much else astir. Peaceful."
"You enjoy this duty?"
"I am writing a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity. I work on those parts down here."
"Fitting, fitting," I said.
- "Anything you like. Have you any preferences? My flight from Chaos to this small sudden island in the sea of night? My meditations upon the abyss? The revelation of the Pattern in a jewel hung round the neck of a unicorn? My transcription of the design by lightning, blood, and lyre while our fathers raged baffled, too late come to call me back while the poem of fire ran that first route in my brain, infecting me with the will to form? Too late! Too late. . . Possessed of the abominations born of the disease, beyond their aid, their power, I planned and built, captive of my new self. Is that the tale you'd hear again? Or rather I tell you of its cure?"
My mind spun at the implications he had just scattered by the fistful. I could not tell whether he spoke literally or metaphorically or was simply sharing paranoid delusions, but the things that I wanted to hear, had to hear, were things closer to the moment. So, regarding the shadowy image of myself from which that ancient voice emerged, "Tell me of its cure," I said.
- I could not be truly harmed because the Pattern protects me, and who but I could harm the Pattern? A beautiful closed system, it seemed, its weakness totally shielded by its strength. ... My blood, with which I drew it, could deface it. But it took me ages to realize that the blood of my blood could also do this thing.
- I pointed Grayswandir at his eyes. "Talk is cheap," I said. "Whiskey costs money."
The Courts of Chaos (1978)Edit
I looked back once to the empty place where my dream had come true. Such is the stuff.
- I looked back once to the empty place where my dream had come true. Such is the stuff.
- Premonitions played tag in the grottoes of my mind, none of which I would have cared to take to lunch.
- Sometimes it's damned hard to tell the dancer from the dance.
- Do we make the Shadow worlds? Or are they there, independent of us, awaiting our footfalls? Or is there an unfairly excluded middle? Is it a matter of more or less, rather than either-or? A dry chuckle arose suddenly as I realized that I might never know the answer for certain.
- . . .And, as the Pattern in Rebma had helped to restore my faded memories, so this one I was now striving to create stirred and elicited the smell of the chestnut trees, of the wagonloads of vegetables moving through the dawn toward the Halles. . . I was not in love with anyone in particular at the time, though there were many girls — Yvettes and Mimis and Simones, their faces merge — and it was spring in Paris, with Gipsy bands and cocktails at Louis' . . . I remembered, and my heart leaped with a kind of Proustian joy while Time tolled about me like a bell. . . And perhaps this was the reason for the recollection, for this joy seemed transmitted to my movements, informed my perceptions, empowered my will . . .
- Good-bye and hello, as always.
The Second Chronicles of AmberEdit
Trumps of Doom (1985)Edit
- It was a pain in the ass waiting around for someone to try to kill you. But it was April 30, and of course it would happen like it always did.
- Why couldn't you want a divorce, like any sensible young man?
- I shook out my cloak and brushed myself off. I traveled for perhaps half an hour then, leaving the place far behind me, before I halted and took my breakfast in a hot, bleak valley smelling faintly of sulfur.
As I was finishing, I heard a crashing noise. A horned and tusked purple thing went racing along the ridge to my right pursued by a hairless orange-skinned creature with long claws and a forked tail. Both were wailing in different keys.
I nodded. It was just one damned thing after another.
Blood of Amber (1986)Edit
- We never used to word "love," though it must have ran through her mind on occasion, as it did through mine. It was, I suppose, that I didn't love her enough to trust her, and then it was too late.
Sign of Chaos (1987)Edit
Knight of Shadows (1989)Edit
Prince of Chaos (1991)Edit
- See one coronation and you've seen them all. Sounds cynical and probably is, especially when the principal is your best friend and his queen's your inadvertent lover.
- Every time I complained about politics, here, in Amber, back in the States on the Shadow Earth, there was the automatic corollary of considering the way I'd manage situations if I were in charge.
- "What brought all this on?"
"The higher order edition of the Pattern I encountered in the Jewel, actually. There were aspects of it I simply could not understand."
"I am wiser therefor."
"I mean, concerning the Pattern."
"Yes. Either it possesses a certain element of irrationality itself, like living things, or it is an intelligence of such an order that some of its processes only seem irrational to lesser beings. Either explanation amounts to the same from a practical standpoint."
- I don't know that I ever wanted greatness, on its own. It seems rather like wanting to be an engineer, rather than wanting to design something — or wanting to be a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip.
- Sometimes you hear an unlikely thing and that's all it is. Other times, you hear something improbable and it strikes an echo.
- I no longer felt my body. Time was an alien concept. The striving was no longer striving, but a form of elemental movement now, beside which glaciers rushed.
- Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.