“Acquit yourself as well as I have — bastard!”
There are few living who pretend to understand the deceased King Eric. His rivalry with Corwin was insatiable. His disrespect for various royal brothers is quite a matter of record.
Invariably, Eric prompted strong feelings in others. Perhaps it was the very fire of Eric’s personality that caused such varied responses.
Eric’s life is much a matter of public record—truly, he is one of the most public of princes. Born out of wedlock of Faiella Silverbrow, he was four years old when his mother became Queen Faiella. Eleven years later Corwin was born, and nine years later, when Eric was just twenty-five years old, Faiella died in childbirth adding Deirdre to the family.
It is said that Oberon mourned the unexpected tragedy. Yet Eric lost nearly everything with that death. For a time, the young man was not the always smiling and easy to know youth he had been. He did not withdraw from Amber’s world, but embraced it and completed all of his mother’s projects in the next few years after her death.
While Eric was accessible in person and even in our paper history, there are several mysteries around Eric, puzzles that we think shaped the man who would crown himself king in Amber’s hour of necessity.
Despite the scarcity of sons, Oberon never acknowledged Eric. True, there are the official accounts that tell us that Cymnea’s powerful family created political displeasure at the birth of Eric while Cymnea was yet the queen. But this does not convince us that centuries after Cymnea and her family were gone from Amber and trade ended with that shadow that this reason held sway over Oberon.
Few reasons ever balked Oberon for so long. He found ways to do what he needed to do.
We believe that there was a strong personal breach between Oberon and Eric. A rift that was evident at an early age and lasted for the long time they had together and may have grown larger as time went on. Oberon often respected and conflicted with those who were most his own kind; or his equal in will and cunning.
History tells us Oberon and Eric were similar men. Both were loyal to and sought to understand their fathers. Both saw other men as weak and lacking motivation. Both lived under public scrutiny that seemed to drive them to accomplish great things. Both valued their privacy and secrets while maintaining an engaging public life. Both loved women and competition and winning.
Both were notorious for their temper—and for being able to use that temper to suit their own plans.
Differences between father and son were often to Eric’s favor. Eric was very handsome and charming. He was popular with men and women supporting Oberon’s court, particularly the well-born. Eric moved in the noble circles easily, despite that he never had a place in the succession. Where some nobles believed Eric might be a man who needed friends, it often turned out that they found they needed Eric more than he needed them.
Eric got things done, a trait that he also shared with Oberon.
Eric was less successful charming his siblings. Corwin was normally less direct and more artistic. Deirdre was deft at personal relationships, but kept her commitment to both brothers balanced. While Corwin and Deirdre were both impressed with their much older brother as youngsters, Eric never seemed to establish a deeper relationship that might weld Faiella’s children into a tight group.
In later years, Eric blamed most of this rift with Corwin on the loafing artistic coterie that flocked about Corwin and presented great honors to him for music and poetry. Eric had no patience for young men who made jape on warriors.
Eric studied weapons under Benedict and mastered his craft in confrontations down through centuries. There were few Amber conflicts that Eric didn’t play a strong role in.
He was a captain in various adventures through his first century, often tracking and wiping out marauders on the trade routes. He formed his own company, the Scarlet Sabres based on wealth from mines he discovered in the Kolvir range. After Osric and Finndo both disappeared in the Southern Wars, Eric was sent to recover Amber troops and end those conflicts, which he did in ten years time. He was a regiment commander in the Third Chaosian Incursion. He commanded the Arden/Garnath front during the Ghenesh border problems, once it was clear that the Arden Warden, Corwin, was losing position and men too quickly. Eric was the face of Amber’s military assistance to the Golden Circle for most of the land based battles there. For a time, Eric and Bleys were close comrades during the Eastern Wars just beyond the Golden Circle and saved many of those campaigns for the less experienced Begman commanders.
Despite decades of such successes, back in Amber Eric was less successful with the ladies of Amber with Corwin grown and second in succession to Benedict. There were already rumors that Benedict would never sit the throne and most thought Corwin the obvious choice.
Eric seemed more than capable of holding female attention when he was present, but his charms did not persist in his long absences serving Amber’s needs.
During Clarissa’s rule as Queen, Eric was more out of country than in.
Later, during the long reign of Rilga, Eric was a dynamic force often part of everything going on at Castle Amber. He watched Rilga’s sons carefully and gave them plenty of reason to trust Amber would treat them fairly. Some say Eric recommended Julian for warder of Arden when Corwin resigned his position over a defense policy that Oberon judged against Queen Moins of Rebma.
Later Eric’s return to Aes, a country he had assisted in the Eastern Wars, put him as temporary ambassador helping the urban Aesians solve a rural problem with the savage Weir. This is where Eric first met the High Mother of the Weir, Tatasha.
Personal sparks flew.
Tatasha was not a woman put off by Eric’s aggressive approach to problem solving and Eric soon found himself negotiating a diplomatic retreat for the urban Aesians. It became clear on repeated attempts to get the High Mother to agree to open more lands for settlement, that she was not going to accept new encroachment on ancestral lands. The entire Aesian economy was poised to leap ahead and this one Weir savage was blocking that.
Eric finally tried to end the impass by sending some of the Red Sabres to kidnap the High Mother while she was traveling and tuck her out of the way for a while. His plan called for Amber to rescue her from brigands later.
Instead, the High Mother’s bodyguard delivered the trussed up Red Sabres back to Aesport after ‘saving them from killer wild boars’.
Two more attempts to get the High Mother out of the way failed—spectacularly.
So Eric went to see her himself, without his men. He explained he had commanded armies that numbered millions of men. He told the High Mother about the real scope of shadow, how small Aes was, and her ‘protected lands’ portion of one small country in infinite shadow was like a pebble within a stream of history about to washed out of the way. Whether moving wisely and by choice, or not was her decision to make for the safety of her people.
A threat? she asked.
A promise, Eric explained.
So the High Mother made a promise in turn: if Eric did not fight her barehanded to decide the fate of the ancestral lands, he would be drowned in blood and never see Amber again. Then she showed him five hundred Weir ringing the camp ready to kill him at her word.
He agreed. Winner would dictate terms.
There is no written record of the fight. The Weir have only an oral history. What is known is this:
in Aes, the Weir recover quickly from the most serious wounds.
in Aes, the High Mother commands the very ground itself to her need.
in Aes, Eric of Amber lost his fight with the High Mother after a three day barehanded contest.
It took him two days to recover enough to walk out of the back country. One day later, there was a new treaty between the urban Aesians and the Weir, but no new lands to settle for the politicians.
Oberon was not happy.
Eric worked hard and made the treaty stick. He explained to his father that one day these Weir might be useful as shock troops in Amber’s cause. Aes might not prosper as fast, but Amber would reap a reward still. The treaty must hold. Eric began his campaign to make friends of the Weir—of course through the High Mother.
Rilga passed away. Dybele was never queen, but an omen of things to come. Paulette came to Amber and was crowned.
The difference between Paulette and the High mother were night and day. Eric grew to despise Paulette’s frivolity and girlish nature but was shocked with the rest of the family when she committed suicide.
Lora was a queen that might have done well by Amber. Eric tried to help her in her plans to expand Amber’s empire. This failed at the personal level between Oberon and Lora. Lora departed with the young Delwin and Sandmorel.
Corwin had reached the height of popularity and social ruthlessness in Amber. When Eric found out that Corwin had been pressuring Deirdre to take a stand against Eric, his legendary temper snapped. Eric worried that Deirdre might actually be willing to set aside her easy neutrality, which in many ways was a tenuous bridge of credibility that Eric did not want to lose.
Eric asked Corwin to go hunting. Only Eric came back. He had a strange story about being separated from Corwin after an argument.
Oberon was furious. Deirdre was shocked. Everyone assumed that Corwin was dead, though Eric swore he was not. A number of people in the family stepped away from Eric while the King’s temper eased.
Except that temper didn’t seem to ease. Years later, the King would still fly into a rage when Corwin’s name was mentioned. Eric was outcast. He left Amber for Aes and lived there for a few years.
Deela did not register even as a blip on Eric’s military horizons. Bleys dealt with her once and for all in Begma.
But Oberon vanished. Dark things seemed to be straying near Amber. Caine’s son and family were murdered, another omen of things to come. Eric came back to Amber as soon as he confirmed the rumors. During the dark years of Oberon’s absence from Amber, Eric had his hands full. Eric traveled to the thrones of the Golden Circle on several occasions. The longer Oberon’s location remained a mystery, the more questions about the succession Eric heard from his allies.
And the monster sightings grew worse and worse.
Then even Julian and Gerard were waylaid with injuries on a scouting mission. Eric believed something dangerously close to Amber’s center had gone wrong. He feared Oberon was not coming back.
When Amber’s safety prompted Eric to the regency, and then throne, there were many who felt that this confirmed Eric had killed Corwin. Eric was still unacknowledged by the old King’s choice. Those who knew Caine were not surprised he did not press his own seniority over Eric. Caine and his brothers actually pushed Eric to take the final steps. Eric’s position was solid as long as the sons of Rilga supported him. But Benedict was missing, perhaps dead.
For Eric, the nightmare just kept getting worse.
Resources began to stretch thin. Amber’s strength had always been drawing its need from surrounding shadow. Now travel was not safe. Caravans disappeared. Money grew tight, the price of goods climbed, and though there was no official seige, people began to realize that Amber was under a subtle attack.
Bleys and Brand vanished and drove home a point Eric had not wanted to believe. There was undeclared civil war in addition to his other problems.
A decision then came back to bite Eric. Corwin woke up and things really began to look bad.
Eric caught Deirdre looking through military plans for defending Amber. When she couldn’t explain herself to his satisfaction, he had her thrown into a cell until he could get some answers.
Even though he had secretly married the High Mother of the Weir and her troops were in Amber and completely loyal to him, he sent her back to Aes with a company of Weir when he found out she was pregnant.
She didn’t want to leave, but that barehanded fight he won.
Eric made Amber work in the absence of its driving mind, his father. He took the crown when it seemed the center would not hold without Oberon. He mastered the Jewel of Judgment from scrap notes found in Oberon’s office. He defeated an army led by two of his brothers to hold Amber safe. Even the combined effects of several years of incursions by Chaos, lack of trust by those close to him, a blood curse, and monstrous armies attacking Amber were not enough to defeat Eric—he died fighting.
He died proving himself a king, with a curse for his unknown enemies and a demand that Corwin do the right thing.
Eric is survived by his son, Evander, born in Aes after his father’s death. Evander has a daughter, Cassandra, who now has two children, Kai and Xhimena.