Mysteries of Amber :: the Unicorn

Mysteries of Amber
Section 00.01.1 :: the Unicorn

…I followed the direction of his gaze and froze. Neither of us moved as we regarded the apparition: a soft, shimmering white encompassed it, as if it were covered with down rather than fur and maning; its tiny, cloven hooves were golden, as was the delicate, whorled horn that rose from its narrow head. It stood atop one of the lesser rocks, nibbling at the lichen that grew there. Its eyes, when it raised them and looked in our direction, were a bright, emerald green. It joined us in immobility for a pair of instants. Then it made a quick, nervous gesture with its front feet, pawing the air and striking the stone, three times. And then it blurred and vanished like a snowflake, silently, perhaps in the woods to our right.
…It had a way of remaining partly concealed the entire while�looking out from behind something, passing from cover to cover, moving with an incredible swiftness when it did move, avoiding open areas, favoring glade and shade.
…Various intensities of white emerged from the planes of existence, and brightest of all, immense, awful, the unicorn suddenly reared, pawing at the air, filling perhaps ninety percent of creation with what became a slowmotion gesture I feared would annihilate us if we advanced another pace.
…Still, I had mixed feelings about being descended from a unicorn�
…The Unicorn took a step forward and halted.
  She was such a lovely thing that somehow I was heartened just by looking upon her. It was a kind of aching feeling that she aroused, though; hers was a beauty of the sort to be taken in small doses. And I could somehow sense the unnatural intelligence within that snowy head. I wanted very badly to touch her, but knew that I could not.
  She cast her gaze all about. Her eyes lighted upon me, and I would have looked away if I had been able. This was not possible, however, and I returned that gaze in which I read an understanding beyond my own. It was as if she knew everything about me, and in this instant had comprehended all of my recent trials�seeing, understanding, possibly sympathizing. For a moment, I felt that I saw something of pity and a strong love reflected there-and perhaps a touch of humor.

—Corwin on the Unicorn

To steal from a man who knew how to turn a phrase: “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
Shall we solve it here? No.


IMC :: Eric, h.r.h.


Then there was Eric. Handsome by anyone’s standards, his hair was so dark as to be almost blue. His beard curled around the mouth that always smiled, and he was dressed simply in a leather jacket and leggings, a plain cloak, high black boots, and he wore a red sword belt bearing a long silvery saber and clasped with a ruby, and his high cloak collar round his head was lined with red and the trimmings of his sleeves matched it. His hands, thumbs hooked behind his belt, were terribly strong and prominent. A pair of black gloves jutted from the belt near his right hip. He it was, I was certain, that had tried to kill me on that day I had almost died. I studied him and I feared him somewhat.

— Corwin, Nine Princes in Amber

“Acquit yourself as well as I have — bastard!”

— Eric’s last words, The Guns of Avalon

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.


IMC :: Caine, h.r.h.


“Then came the swarthy, dark-eyed countenance of Caine, dressed all in satin that was black and green, wearing a dark three-cornered hat set at a rakish angle, a green plume of feathers trailing down the back. He was standing in profile, one arm akimbo, and the toes of his boots curled upwards, and he wore an emerald-studded dagger at his belt. There was ambivalence in my heart.”


“Caine is a coward.”


As mysterious and elusive now in death as he was in life—though one of Caine’s great-grandsons is working on a biography of the hero of PatternFall.
In addition to Corwin’s tale of Patternfall, there is one by Caine, which is larger than Zelazny’s but much smaller than Corwin’s. Lots of scenes that don’t appear in either of the other two, plus it is written in third person. For those with a taste for sex, violence, and nail-biting suspense, it is the preferred version.
Caine Rilgason. Born out of wedlock while Queen Faiella was still alive and later acknowledged along with Llewella by King Oberon when Queen Rilga Ironhand took the throne. The early years of Caine’s life are mystery. Oberon and Rilga met in shadow, and the records show that she was not of noble birth.
In the long period that followed Faiella’s death, and through the reign of Clarissa, including the birth of Llewella, there is no official record of Rilga and Caine at all. Some accounts say Rilga was once a pirate. Other tales tell of her career as a smith of fine weapons. Still others note she was a mercenary sword for hire. Most of these are discounted as the name is not uncommon in shadow before or since.
What is known is that some seventy years after Clarissa returned to her far southern shadow, Oberon went into shadow and came back to Amber with Rilga. They were married in the castle. Caine was an experienced man already and gave his mother away at the ceremony. Caine ceased his travels in shadow during the first years of Rilga’s reign at Oberon’s side. Once Julian was born, Caine went back to the double-dozen seas of shadow.
Caine was a frequent visitor to Amber during the childhood of Julian and Gerard. When Gerard was about ten years old, Caine returned and settled again at the castle, adding to the near-shadow maps. Shortly after this, Rilga and Oberon started the Golden Circle travels that knitted the first shadow alliance Amber had enjoyed since the ill-fated Eregnori Incursion.
While Oberon cemented the Golden Circle alliance with his personal politicking, Caine was not idle. He spent time sharing his expertise of shadow and life with his younger brothers, giving Julian and Gerard some of his love of exotic people and discovery. Caine brought a new style to Amber during Oberon’s absence: interaction with common citizens and travelers to Port Amber. It is said that the news and gossip of Port Amber flowed through Caine’s many outrageous parties. These bashes also attracted a good number of mercenary captains who later became officers in Amber’s growing merchant marine.
Street rats of Amber also became secret visitors to the Green House in midtown where the sorceress Lippa lived. During the Golden Circle diplomacy years, the sorceress Lippa was an advisor and bed-partner to Prince Caine. She was from the Jungle Kingdoms, far south of normal shipping lanes. Her skin was darker than Caine’s with a texture like silken chocolate.
When Oberon returned from his travels, Amber began an expansion of trade and influence of nearby shadow that is hard to imagine today. This is the period of history when the phrase, “all seas lead to Amber” became popular. The Golden Circle had a great influence in the next twenty years over other distant shadows. The first contact with the Empire of the Gleaming Banner occurred at the peak of this expansion period.
Prince Caine was the first Amber royal to visit Darrheabarr, where he was well received by the Emperor.


Mysteries of Amber :: Mirelle

Mysteries of Amber
Section 11.3.3 :: Mirelle

“Our parents had tried to discipline [them] in the past, never very successfully.”

—-Corwin, Nine Princes in Amber

In the Amber material that isn’t fiction, Zelazny introduces the mysterious and possibly dead, Mirelle. Mirelle survived long enough to choose personal colors, per Zelazny, red and yellow. (Intro to the Black Road War.)


Mysteries of Amber :: Dworkin

Mysteries of Amber
Section 101.01.1 :: Dworkin

  If one is a prince or princess of the blood, then one may walk, crossing through Shadows, forcing one’s environment to change as one passes, until it is finally in precisely the shape one desires it, and there stop. The Shadow world is then one’s own, save for family intrusions, to do with as one would. In such a place had I dwelled for centuries.
  The second means is the cards, cast by Dworkin, Master of the Line, who had created them in our image, to facilitate communications between members of the royal family. He was the ancient artist to whom space and perspective meant nothing. He had made up the family Trumps, which permitted the willer to touch his brethren wherever they might be. I had a feeling that these had not been used in full accord with their author’s intention.
  The third was the Pattern, also drawn by Dworkin, which could only be walked by a member of our family. It initiated the walker into the system of the cards, as it were, and at its ending gave its walker the power to stride across Shadows.

—Corwin on Dworkin


Mysteries of Amber: Coral

Mysteries of Amber
Section 18.7.1 :: Coral

“If she could see with it, what might she behold?”
“The clear, cold lines of eternity, I daresay. Beneath all Shadow. No mortal could bear it for too long.”

—-Suhuy replying to Merlin

In the second Amber series, Zelazny introduces several younger Amberites, including the mysterious and impetuous Coral.


Mysteries of Amber: Jasra

Mysteries of Amber
section 31.3.1 :: Jasra

Flora rose suddenly, her face contorted, the scented lavender sheet falling away as she drove a fist forward with surprising speed. “You bitch!” she cried. “Remember me?”
The blow fell upon Jasra’s jaw, and I barely managed to free Frakir in time to keep from being dragged backward with her into Luke’s waiting arms. Both of them faded, and the shimmer was gone.

—-Merlin, Blood of Amber

And what does the ‘Who’s Who‘ tell us about Jasra?

“Jasra: Sorceress of the Way of the Broken Pattern. She is the mother of Rinaldo, King of Kashfa, as well as being the ruler of the Keep of Four Worlds. Former wife of Brand. She was once a maid-companion of and was taught Sorcery by Dara in Chaos.”

And here is a possible timeline for Jasra’s involvement in the canon.