|Title:||Trumps of Doom|
OK. So my "brief pause" was much shorter than I originally planned. The stone I am carving isn't cooperating as much as I'd like, so I am "forced" to do other things while I determine what it will become. Oh, the hardship.
Anyway, here we go, back into the thick of things that is Amber. In Trumps of Doom we start spending time with Merlin, son of Corwin and XXXXXX. (Name blanked out to keep it from those of you who haven't read the first five books yet. And shame on you!)
As with all Amber books, there is a backdrop of a huge and complex family, full of plots and intrigue, combined with a larger scale set of affairs that the hero is trying to understand. To my mind, Zelazny pulls it off at least as well here as he did in the first series, though perhaps some of the pieces come together sooner this time around. (Of course, I'm only through the first book of the second series, so there is still a lot of time for things to change.)
Our hero - Merlin - is at least as likable as Corwin was, and perhaps more so. He is both flawed and driven to survive, like his father, which I find a believable combination. When we met Corwin he had amnesia. As we get settled in with Merlin, he is still young enough not to have been fully enmeshed in the family politics yet. He is thus perhaps a trifle naive about things. But he's more "human" too, at least as I see it. And that's interesting, since he's not really human at all.
He's also a computer engineer - you learn that early on, so it's not a spoiler - but it attracts me to him in ways that his father didn't. His father's careers on our shadow Earth were a bit vague to me. Merlin and I, though, have work with computers in common. But that's probably all we have in common, though, because...
Merlin is also a sorcerer. There are plenty of hints in the first Amber series that something like our classic definition of magic works in Amber. It's just that it isn't much in the interest (or genetics) of the major characters in those books. Merlin, however, with his unusual lineage, inherits a different outlook on things from his dad, and magic is more a part of his nature. I find Zelazny's use of magic fascinating, and the concepts behind it reasonably well fleshed out, so far. I have no belief in magic myself, but the willing suspension of disbelief in this case is simple for me.
What else can I say? We're following a magician through shadow as we try to understand the depth of the dangers he faces. We learn things as he does, and suffer along with him. Fun!