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Daddy Issues in ‘9 Princes in Amber’

Recently saw the news that they’re developing Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles for the screen, and I’ve rarely been so excited. The ten book series of Corwin and his son Merlin are filled with adventure, romance, philosophy, politics, and the drama that is family.

I started reading these books in the mid 80s, I guess? I was probably 9 or 10. They were some of my dad’s favorite books, so it was something we could share. Opportunities to bond with my dad were rare, to say the least, so this world we could inhabit together was pretty meaningful. My folks separated around then, and that’s never easy. There was always the hope that they’d work things out (retrospect very glad they did not!), and that hope was reinforced by my dad having so many of his things still at the house. The day he came to get his stuff was the day that hope died for good, but what really bothered me was when he came down to the bookshelves in my room and took these books. It just felt like a low-blow at a time when I was already pretty low.

When I turned 13, I saved up allowance money to buy the series for myself. Because all roads lead to Amber, sure, but all roads also need to lead to self-sufficience.

I’ve gone back and read them many times since, and never thought about that new adolescent and what going out to get those books for himself on his own meant. Not until I saw the recent announcement. It’s weird what memories linger under the surface, what emotional flotsam and jetsam floats to shore at the weirdest times.

There’s a part of the second and third book in the series where (SPOILER ALERT) Corwin becomes friends with this guy called Ganelon, who turns out to be Corwin’s father. Corwin feels doubly betrayed. First, he’s been getting lied to, yes, but the worse betrayal is that Corwin had actually started to like his father. I get it, Corwin. I do. Which just goes to show, on this Shadow Earth or another, it’s always complicated when it comes to fathers and sons.

Rob Browatzke

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