cover image Prince of Chaos

Prince of Chaos

Roger Zelazny. William Morrow & Company, $18 (225pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08727-2

Zelazny's latest Amber novel clears up many of the mysteries that made the last few books ( Sign of Chaos ; Knight of Shadows ; etc.) tantalizing and frustrating, but it still fails to capture the spirit that rendered the five original Amber novels so enjoyable. Merlin, son of Corwin of Amber and Dara of Chaos, returns to the Courts of Chaos for the funeral of King Swayvill. Though Merlin is not in line for the throne, he finds himself drawn into the deadly plotting that surrounds the succession. At the same time, conflict between the Pattern of Amber, sign of order in the universe, and the Logrus, sign of chaos, is heating up, and Merlin is caught in the middle. Trying to avoid both the succession dispute and the Pattern-Logrus struggle, Merlin decides that he needs his father's help, and sets out to find Corwin and free him from his hidden prison. Moments in this book recall the creative energy and the intricate plotting of previous work in the series, but where the twists and turns of the earlier tales came as a direct result of the needs and motives of the characters, the storyline of the later books works the characters like puppets. Much of the action seems random or contrived, and Zelanzy seems not to realize that he has pushed this series too far--the open ending of this book promises more Amber novels to come. (Nov.)