Book Review: Guns of Avalon

Part two in lady lascivious’s voyage into Amber.

I’ve been chewing on this book for a week or so.  Not literally, that would get icky, and I’m not a big fan of the taste of paper.  I guess it would be more correct to say that my brain has been digesting the story’s contents trying to think of a way to get my impressions down on paper.  This isn’t really paper, but it’s close.  You know, this was really a terrible metaphor.  Maybe I should start over.

I finished Guns of Avalon about a week ago and have spent much time since then thinking about it, wondering what I should tell you and, really, debating how I feel about it.

I came into the book really stoked.  I had just finished Nine Princes In Amber, which I absolutely loved, and I had high hopes for this the second book in the series.  It starts off just where Nine Princes left off: Corwin is adrift on the sea, and heads to a nearby lighthouse on an island.  Here he finds a quiet, solitary place where he can regain his strength and begin plotting his next siege.  It isn’t long before he’s back on the road, heading through Shadow towards his former homeland of Avalon.  It’s what he finds along the way that becomes, what I think, the most interesting party of the story in this volume.


If you read Nine Princes, you know where the darkness came from.  If not, I’ll just say that it’s Corwin’s fault, and luckily he’s the classy sort of quasi-hero who feels the need to clean up the mess he’s made (after he wins back the throne of course, and if it suits his aims).  He begins to learn, however, the power of a curse and the horror of being around to see it come to fruition.

I couldn’t classify this as a simple “consequences of your actions” tale, because it’s far more terrifying than that.  Ok, I’m a bit of a sissy sometimes, especially when it comes to beasties and things that come in the window at night, but even still.  Did you ever stay up late as a kid, reading a scary book under the covers with a flashlight?  If not, well then you’re missing out.  If so, then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that parts of Avalon gave me that same excited chill that I got as a 9-year-old kid reading Masque of the Red Death after bedtime.  A dark road through a dark forest inhabited by sinister men and strange creatures, an eerie blot that oozes across dimensions, infecting every conceivable reality.  To me, these were the most intriguing, most exciting parts of Guns of Avalon.

I think because the beginning of the book was jam-packed with this brilliantly dark and exciting story, I felt the middle of the book seemed to drag a bit.  Once the action was over, there were long passages of internal dialogue that, while serving the purpose of really expanding and exploring the world of Amber and its rulers, felt a little monotonous at times.  With the exception of a few new relatives (who honestly aren’t as amusing or endearing as most others we’ve seen), there aren’t many new characters to interact with or follow.  There’s a bit of scheming and plotting and planning on Corwin’s part, which thankfully pays off at the end.  That’s where it starts getting great again; the end of the book brings the action back with some huge battles, more scary dark forest stuff, and a twist of Shyamalanian proportions.  So stick with it, readers!  The end will make it worth it.

And that’s where I leave you with this one.  I haven’t started the third book in the series, Sign of the Unicorn, but you can bet I’ll  be kicking that off tonight and will let you know what I think!

What did you think of Guns of Avalon?  Tell us!  Leave a comment!

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