Heredity or environment? I wondered wryly. We were all of us, to some degree, mad after his fashion. To be honest, it had to be a form of madness, to have so much and to strive so bitterly for just a little more, for a bit of an edge over the others. He carried this tendency to its extreme, that is all. He was a caricature of this mania in all of us. In this sense, did it really matter which of us was the traitor?
This time around, Corwin et all go to the Primal Pattern (because that’s a thing now) and manage to figure out what could have caused the Black Road and all the troubles that’s been causing them. We proceed to get a pile more backstory / world building from Dworkin ( Who is apparently Corwin's grandfather? ) and head off for some fun™ in the Courts of Chaos.
Upon returning, we figure out who the big bad of the whole series thus far is ( Brand, apparently. Makes enough sense, I guess. ). The rest of the story is mostly a game of keep away as Corwin et al try to keep the big bad away from the Pattern(s)–we keep getting more of them that are ‘close enough’1.
Overall, it’s a solid enough book. It’s nice to see a real villain and get some answers for what’s actually been going on this whole time, even if it feels a bit abrupt. We do learn a bit more about how Corwin is growing and changing along. He’s almost starting to feel like a worthwhile King now, rather than the just-as-bad-as-his-siblings feel from the first book.
Finally: That last sentence. So Ganelon was Oberon all along? All right then. Did not see that coming. In hindsight, it makes more sense why Genelon could run across the Primal Pattern at the beginning of the book. Not sure what to think about it. We’ll have to see how that works out in The Courts of Chaos .
Which supports the previous concern I had with the series: why in the world don’t the various Princes of Amber just make their own kingdoms to rule? If there are four Patterns that are all sufficient enough for for these purposes ( Amber, Rebma, Tir-na Nog'th, and Primal )… Is Amber really that special? ↩︎