the Great Book of Amber, re-read, immortal dating and pickup lines

wandering thoughts…all started in this series here

… the older a misogynist gets, the more difficult it is for him to tell a 30 year old from a 15 year old female.
–me being flip in comments of blog above

Set aside for a moment, that Oberon, King of Amber, is so old that any wife he takes is lucky if she is a tenth his age. (It is easy in canon text to believe Oberon is ten thousand years old. If he marries a 100 year old woman from some slow maturing race, he’s considerably robbing the cradle. Of course, she should have some clue as to what she is getting into…. right?)
In our fantasy stories, what do we make of mature immortals who fall in love with other people much younger?
Whether we say that twenty-one years is mature, or thirty, or even fifteen years…none of those ‘ages of maturity’ compares to some vampire, demi-god, or amberite who has walked the worlds for five centuries. But we get this often in our contemporary fantasy.
OK, so we know that thirty year olds are seldom attracted to ninety year olds in Real Life. But we also know that the physical form of our fictional immortals is not usually subject to time and often not a clue to the young protagonist that they are getting involved with a person who has forgotten more about life than the younger has been exposed to.
Is that right? Is it very very wrong?
Why do we read that stuff? Why do they write it? Is it only: ‘celebrity picked me in all the world’ love? Or is it the tragic side of relationship: ‘we want this but it cannot work and that conflict will drag across at least three books’.
What the hell is the immortal really thinking? Let’s apply the minimum amount of ‘real life’ experience to the issue: relationships separated by decades stumble and fall on the baggage of self growth and common understanding.
Don’t they?
Or is it really just a horrible manipulation on a dozen different levels?
Or is it a one-year stand?
Or does it only look like a relationship because we readers are not immortal. It is really only casual sex?
Hard to find 900 year old lady friends?
Why is it often an immortal guy and a fresh young twenty-something?
Just about any story in Greek myth regarding seduction is straight out creepy and tragic.
Why does Angel feel attracted to Buffy? She’s in high school. That’s totally….odd.
Why does Corwin fall for Dara? He believes her to be 17 (or so).
Edward and Bella?
Is it just the trend in young romance fiction? Er, no. Don’t think so.
Y’know, when women do this in fiction, they are often clearly painted as monsters.
Once Bitten (1985) or The Hunger (1983)
So, in your Amber rpg gaming, have the PCs ever raised the issue? In the Amber fanfic ranks, is Benedict romancing a warrior queen from shadow considered normal stuff? Because canon text explains Benedict is oldest on-screen sib and that 1500 Amber years extended through shadow adventures easily makes Benedict some 4500 years old.
* * *
IMC, this issue has come up from several levels and directions.
Time sliding around as loose as it does, Amber royals just mostly seem to ignore the age of the person they are sleeping with. One might say, they neglect the consequences as much as they neglect impacts of entering and leaving shadow lives at various points in the canon.
And not to get into second series deeply, but the consequence of bumping a life off-track and then just walking out results in the Julia Barnes plot.
I haven’t got a conclusion on this one.
I don’t have my fingers around it yet. Perhaps because the entire thing seems tilted at a crazy angle that you just accept if you immerse in the concept of Amber.
By all means, comment.

One comment

  1. Sorry, nothing very useful to add, just that this was very interesting.

    I figure this must have something to do with our societies being patriarcal, with old men wanting “fresh” young women and feeling like its normal, with their wants and ideas having permeated our societies, but otherwise… (See also the idea that a 60 years old male can be distinguished and seductive, whereas a woman is just old)

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