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Nine Princes in Amber

The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1
Narrated by: Alessandro Juliani
Series: Chronicles of Amber, Book 1
Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (180 ratings)

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Summary

Nine Princes in Amber is the first of the 10 books that are The Chronicles of Amber; an epic fantasy series written by six-time Hugo Award winning and three-time Nebula Award winning author, Roger Zelazny.

The ten books that make up the series are told in two story arcs: The Corwin Cycle and the Merlin Cycle.

The Audible audio rendition of this classic sci-fi/fantasy series is kicked off by 2012 Audie Award nominee, Alessandro Juliani, who reads the first five books that make up the Corwin Cycle and whose narration vividly brings the world of Amber to life.

Amber is the one real world, of which all others including our own Earth are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin's blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne.

From Arden to the Pattern deep in Castle Amber which defines the very structure of Reality, Corwin must contend with the powers of his eight immortal brothers, all Princes of Amber. His savage path is blocked and guarded by eerie structures beyond imagining impossible realities forged by demonic assassins and staggering Forces that challenge the might of Corwin's superhuman fury.

©1970 Roger Zelazny (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Nine Princes in Amber

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FANTASTIC FANTASY

I read this book and also the subsequent four books years ago and was totally enthralled by them. I've been waiting a long time to get them on audio. The story is still brilliant but feel the performance could be improved upon. Alessandro Juliani does a good job but I feel audio books would really benefit from having a narrator and a different actors for the different characters. There is a limit to what one person can do by way of changing voices and it is sometimes difficult for a male to replicate a female voice and vice versa. However, having said the above, I really enjoyed the experience of Nine Princes in Amber and the subsequent four books of the quintology in audio.

4 people found this helpful

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Sublime Zelazny

Beautiful, magical!, visual, exciting, intriguing - I could go on and on with superlatives for his well crafted story which carries the listener breathtakingly fast forward through unknowingness and recovering memory, different world's and battles in quest of the throne of Amber, the one true reality. I'm not often a fan of fantasy but this is sublime, Zelazny supreme. And all read to perfection by Alessandro Juliani.
A wonderful book.
Now, please excuse me as I start listening to book two - can't wait.

1 person found this helpful

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Great writer

Big fan of Zelazny, great to be able to listen now my eyesight has begun to decay. Read in a great manner keeping the story alive

1 person found this helpful

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Not What I Expected


Story - 5/5

Having had recommendations for this series for some time now, it sounded like it was going to be quite hard going and complex. After finally taking the plunge, I was surprised about how smooth and easy to follow it was. It starts with Corwin waking up with amnesia, so we learn gradually as he remembers things. I loved this style personally and it made for a very humorous story.

Roger Zelazny's prose is very concise and to-the-point, so although this is quite a short audiobook, you do still get a complete story out of it. The story is a halfway house between Sci-fi and fantasy, and is nothing like I have ever come across before. A very obscure concept, but I found it very intriguing.

The characterisation is very strong. It allows the reader to get a very quick grasp of what everyone is about, and their part in the world of Amber. All characters are likeable, and the exchanges they have are very witty.

A very strong first book, and I will definitely be purchasing the rest in the series


Performance - 4.5/5

Alessandro Juliani was superb in my opinion. I thought his narration and voice acting added to the humour and excitement of the story very nicely. I thought he was the perfect fit for Corwin's personality, and all character's voices were distinctly recognisable and well portrayed. I was shocked to see a review that didn't like him actually

He reads the story very quickly, which I personally quite liked, but others may not. Another narrator may have added 1-1.5 hours onto the length of this audiobook. Listen to the sample if you are unsure, but you can always slow it down on the audible app if necessary.


Overall - 5/5

3 people found this helpful

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It's ok. Should be Amazing but it's Not

To start, I will comment that the narrator is great and does a fine job of bringing the characters to life. I don't think any flaws are to do with the production of this audiobook. The concept is brilliant. People talk about the slang language etc, but it was the sixties and this is a bit psychedelic and experimental. Why I have mixed feelings is this: The start is great, the whole amnesia plotline, the mysterious siblings and surreal experiences are intriguing. But then once they arrive in Amber halfway through it became dull. Zelazny usually writes with complexity: subplots and layers that reveal themselves later in the story and blow you away. That didn't happen here, this book was very superficial in plotline. Maybe those layers reveal themselves later in the series, but not in this book. The action sequences lack the necessary detail to be exciting, and the characters are not developed enough for me to care about them. The buildings of Amber and the underwater palace also lack the description needed to wow me and bring the world to life, and it should have been an amazing world if it wasn't for this. The series of battles are rushed through in just a few sentences at times, barely any detail, so you lose any sense of the vast and epic quality they should have. Brevity can be a good thing but here it is just a skeleton plot at times. It's almost as if parts are rushed because the author wanted to get onto the next section of the story. It's like reading Lord of the Rings condensed into a synopsis of ten pages, and expecting the reader to still enjoy it. This is shame because the scenes on earth and the journey to Amber in the first half of the story had me hooked. Yet strangely, the last chapter of the book had me intrigued again, enough to make me eager to try the next Amber book to find out what happens. It seems that the scenes of character interaction work much better than the large battle scenes or action sequences. I'm a Zelazny fan. The Doors of His Face and the Lamps of His Mouth is the best collection of sci-fi/ fantasy short stories I have ever read. Go read it. Everybody talks about the Amber series too so I wanted to like this. It would have been very original when first published in the late '60s, and maybe the reputation of this book is based on the Amber series as a whole and it gets better? I'm going to try the second book and if its no better I'll probably decide this is not for me.

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Very well narrated with sound effects!

This book is a classic that is exceptional. thr narration is wonderful as well, due to the sound effects, character portrayals, and the vocal range across which it is told.

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A masterwork? I didn't think so.

I wanted to love this, so many people rave about Zelazny but I couldn't honestly appreciate why from this book. I'm aware it's the first or many but there should be some satisfaction to the listener/reader without having to invest in the entire series. Zelazny throws you headfirst into a world that he obviously knows intimately, but which is never explained, it felt disjointed and confusing to the point where the attempted world building just passed me clean on by. Further to this the narration style is grating, with the narrator injecting flippant intonation seemingly at will, I found it broke the immersion and distracted from what the author was actually trying to convey. I'm a hundred books down on audible, but this is the first one I have ever returned.

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An immensely intriguing story

I found this story absolutely fascinating and can't wait to hear more of it. The reader, similarly, gave a great performance and I'll definitely be seeking him out for future listening.

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Cool

This is a cool and unique story, perhaps feels a tad rushed, but there is a lot going on

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unique

you won't find another classic fantasy novel anything like this series. to be intervention unreservedly recommended

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  • Robert
  • 13-08-12

Great book, lame deal!

Any additional comments?

Gave this series a try and was very surprised at the excellent narration and story line. I like the mix of the modern age with the Avalon mythology. For a book that was written in the 70's the story still seems current and not antiquated. I would like to finish the whole series but do not like that these short 5 hour books are sold separately instead of being grouped together. It will definitely be expensive to get to the end and I'm sure Audible is counting on that. Great book, lame deal!

249 people found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 01-08-12

Great begining of the series

I have heard this book read by Roger Zelazny himself. Whereas he wrote an excellent story in this series, he himself is NOT a great dramatic actor. The reading by Allessandro Juliani really added to the series- When Zelazny himself read this book, I didn't notice any differences between characters when he read. Juliani's reading is superior and adds a lot of enjoyment to the series. I am not sorry I got this book again even after having heard the author's version of it. I am looking forward to seeing how the entire series feels now with Juliani's reading.

If you are like me and are looking for great new series, you might like this one. Fair warning: from what I recall, the series' quality did degrade towards the end, but the beginning parts was excellent; it climaxed, then left some questions unanswered. Through it all, though, it provides an enjoyable experience.

Everything isn't for everyone. This series has been around for a while so I'm sure a lot of people have opinions about it. Before you commit to it, please find out what other reviewers think. If there's a series you've enjoyed, please share it. Thank you.

89 people found this helpful

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  • Kat Hooper
  • 19-09-12

Finally on audio!!

“I’d get what I needed and take what I wanted and I’d remember those who helped me and step on the rest. For this, I knew, was the law by which our family lived, and I was a true son of my father.”

When Corwin wakes up in a private hospital after driving his car over a cliff, he has no idea who he is. When he realizes that he has healed too fast and that he’s being drugged so he’ll stay unconscious, he decides that he better find out what’s going on.
The truth is strange: Corwin is one of the nine princes of Amber, the one true world, but for centuries he’s been exiled in the Shadowland we call Earth. The accident has actually dislodged the spell that his brother Eric was using to keep him out of Amber because Corwin is the biggest threat to Eric’s sovereignty there.

Nine Princes in Amber is the first (rather short) installment in a long epic that describes, from Corwin’s perspective and later his son’s, the struggle of his family to deal with both their internal treacheries and the evil forces that assail them from the forces of Chaos. In Nine Princes in Amber, Corwin must figure out who he is, assess his resources, gather some allies, wonder whether his father is dead or alive, and make a move on the throne of Amber. Here we learn what Corwin has been doing for centuries on Earth, meet several of his siblings, discover the way in and out of Amber, meet a race of people who live under the sea, and discover some of the special powers of Corwin’s family.

Ah… Corwin’s family… if you can call them a “family.” Corwin’s own description for them is “Machiavellian,” and that about covers it. Corwin and his brothers and sisters are clever, sophisticated, sarcastic, and extremely ambitious. They constantly scheme and plot to outmaneuver each other as they vie for political power. If you knew these people in real life, you’d probably hate them, but in Zelazny’s hands they’re kind of charming. These are people who plan to live forever, have the ability to design their own worlds to plunder, are incapable of trust, and have no reason to think about anyone other than themselves. In the end, Corwin rages against his brother and makes a rash decision that will negatively affect Amber’s future.

THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER was highly imaginative when it was published in the 1970s and it remains fresh and original today. The magic system is creative, Zelazny’s writing style is solid, the story is fast-paced, exciting, and mature. Plot twists and cliffhangers make it hard to stop reading. You’ll definitely want to have The Guns of Avalon, the second book in the series, ready to go as soon as you finish Nine Princes in Amber.

Nine Princes in Amber is a re-read for me because Audible Frontiers has recently produced THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER on audio — something I have been waiting years for. They’ve chosen one of their best narrators for Zelazny’s most famous work: Alessandro Juliani. He’s got the perfect voice and style to play Corwin, so I’m really pleased with this production. If you’re an audio reader, you’ll definitely want to download this classic!
Originally Posted at FanLit.

47 people found this helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 08-05-17

All Roads Lead to Amber

"If danger was the price of memory and risk the cost of opportunity, then so be it. I'd stay."
- Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes in Amber

Let me throw my biases out in front. I am not a fan of fantasy. I have a sister-in-law who reads a lot of fantasy and has shelves and shelves of elves and elves and I mock her almost to tears about it. I view a lot of the genre filled with derivative crap. But, I have found a couple gems. I loved Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, White's The Once and Future King, and Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun. Anyway, I was asking a bunch of friends for their recommendations for BIG BOOKS and one of my friends recommended The Great Book of Amber. My first impulse was to say no, but he asked why not? I respect this friend and figured I'd at least give the Corwin books (the first five books of the Amber Chronicles) a shot this year.

So, Nine Princes. It was interesting. Not great, but Zelazny has an almost Hemingway/hard-boiled way with dialogue and prose. The structure of the book (amnesia of the main protagonist) was a novel way to introduce the series and allowed the world/universe to unfold gradually. These books are obviously creative genre pulp, and probably very good fantasy. I'm not sure yet, however, if I would say they are GREAT literature. But so far, I'm intrigued enough to read the next several. If for no other reason than it does what trash/pulp novels are supposed to do. Entertain, without too deep or hard a commitment. Under that consideration, it was a success.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Lauffeuer
  • 02-08-12

A Return to Amber

I feel downright presumptuous to be writing a review for this novel. It is a classic, a keystone, the start of a series that has inspired and shaped the realm of fantasy literature. It is from an era when quality took precedence over quantity. If you enjoy fantasy literature you should give this a try, and even if you don’t enjoy this work, you will at least be able to talk about it when your fellow fantasy nerds start waxing philosophical. Zelazny has been praised by current giants like Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin. He is an author’s author.

Allessandro Juliani gives a solid performance but not outstanding. I’ve heard better but I’ve also heard far worst. Part of the problem may well be that I have lived with these characters in my head for a decade and a half, and so I brought my own view of how their voices sound. I will have no problem continuing the series with Juliani as the narrator, and I have a feeling he will grow on me.

Now, as had been mentioned, not everyone who liked the first books has the same view on the second set of books (6-10). I enjoyed them just as much as the first. They had a different main character, expanded the abilities of the characters and the nature of the setting, and focused a little more on exploring that growth and so focused a little less on the characters at times. I enjoyed the differences, but I understand not everyone did.

I am enjoying my own return to Amber, I hope the same for each of you.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-07-12

All roads lead to Amber

What did you love best about Nine Princes in Amber?

The story is compelling and fascinating. I love the transitions between the different worlds and the way Zelazny worded them.

What other book might you compare Nine Princes in Amber to and why?

I cannot think of a comparison that equals these first five books. They are of themselves a very good body of work.

Which character ??? as performed by Allessandro Juliani ??? was your favorite?

Corwin of course. He rocks

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I named my youngest daughter Amber and would have named a boy Corwin. How's that for extreme? My wife and I both enjoyed the Amber series maybe a bit too much, but what a great escape from this world.

Any additional comments?

A must listen. And I listen to a lot of books.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Consumer
  • 28-09-12

New again

If you could sum up Nine Princes in Amber in three words, what would they be?

treachery
mystical
exciting

What did you like best about this story?

The though of manipulating "shadows" is a great story idea

What does Alessandro Juliani bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His meter and delivery with his own voices makes this book come to life with an edge I had not realized when I read the series 30+ years ago.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Walk the pattern

Any additional comments?

Listening made this book new again. Thank you!

2 people found this helpful

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  • breckoz
  • 10-08-12

Narration is well done

This is my among my top favorite science fiction series. This is Roger Zelazny's best work and he is a well known inspiration amount other top selling authors. I have heard Zelazny's reading of this book and bought this version primarily to see how Alessandro Juliani would pull it off. I still think Zelazny made a better Corwin, but Juliani's version of Random was more mousy and fitting. There was also a better distinction and animation of the other characters as well.
Only for Zelazny would I buy a book twice. So, if you haven't read/listened to this yet you are missing out.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Moon
  • 19-01-13

A very engaging story!

I loved this story. It was snarky and action packed. I'll definitely be listening to the next book!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lore
  • 07-01-13

Not sure what the others reviewers see in this

I was looking for a good series of books to listen to on car trips that are about 5-6 hours long and this series seemed perfect. Since it is a long series of books in a genre I love with pretty good reviews I picked up the first 2 books during one of Audible's promotions.

Now after having listened to the first book I regret owning the second. Unlike many of the positive reviews I read on this site I did not read the book long ago so my impression is not warped by nostalgia.

The characters have little depth, large events are rushed through, and the narration by Alessandro Juliani is mediocre at best. I found myself with no attachment to the main character Corwin and his other family members are equally uninteresting. Not enough information was ever given about Amber itself for me to care about who rules it so the story arc of Corwin trying to retake it held no suspense for me. Battles were rushed through with little detail and in the end I found myself just wanting the book to be over so I could spend my time listening to something better.

Alessandro Juliani wasn't horrible and he does do a variety of voices, but his narration as the main character Corwin is stiff and boring. It made it seem like Corwin cared as little about the outcome of the story as I did. I wouldn't shy away from other Juliani narrations though because I could tell that he has the talent to do a better job with different material.

So my advice would be to steer clear unless you have fond memories from having already read the book as those reviewers seem to be very satisfied with this offering.

44 people found this helpful