- Hardcover: 183 pages
- Publisher: Arbor House; 1st edition (May 1, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0877957185
- ISBN-13: 978-0877957188
- Package Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,318,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Trumps of Doom Hardcover – May 1, 1985
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Trouble comes looking for Merlin despite his peaceful living, and it of course has to do with his relations in Amber. The first two thirds of the book revolve around Merlin attempting to identity of his would-be murderer (and the successful murderer of his ex-girlfriend). We meet several of Merlin’s suspicious-seeming acquaintances, of whom Luke Raynard stands out as being the most suspicious of all, and spend some fun times with Merlin in detective mode. Two-thirds of the way in though, the story takes a strange and sudden turn as Merlin relates to King Random his construction of a shadow-wielding machine he calls the Ghostwheel. Random immediately sees the danger such a construct poses and orders it shut down. Merlin reluctantly approaches his creation to find that it has turned paranoid and dangerous. Perversely, it appears that Random’s voiced concerns and orders to shut down the Ghostwheel are what triggered the machine to become a real danger.
I was disappointed by two things in TRUMPS OF DOOM. First, I was hoping we would get to explore the Courts of Chaos a little more here, but instead we find ourselves heading back to the same old Amber, which doesn’t seem to have changes much at all as Merlin’s aunts and uncles treat him like a new piece in their never-ending game of politics. I also thought the handling of Luke’s character was sloppy as after the big reveal he goes from being the most interesting, smart, and intriguing character to awful, peevish, and totally predictable. Not well done.
While I enjoyed my re-entry into the Amber Universe, I hope the story improves with the next entry.
It starts on April 30th, the day upon which an attempt has been made on Merlin's life for each of the last several years. We are immediately led into a series of mysterious circumstances involving Merlin, a college friend, a murdered ex-girlfriend, an unsociable painter/mystic, and a series of odd characters who approach Merlin with warnings and strange questions.
Merlin is a sorcerer, and his story (through all five books) is filled with much more in the way of personal and tactical magic than were the first five books relating Corwin's adventures. Zelazny also shows a genius for character. Merlin's tale could well have been an entertaining but rewarmed version of Corwin's first person narrative. Instead Zelazny gives Merlin his own unique voice and personality. Merlin is idealistic, brash, naive, and individualistic ... all in ways which set his character completely apart from that of Corwin.
As in the first series, none of these books can stand on its own. From the first paragraph, you're in it for the entire five volume series, and a wonderful read it is.
I've found Zelazny's Merle Corey a much more appealing character than Corwin, maybe because he comes closer to _mench_ than _ubermensch_, thus more identifiable to the author's geeky reader core. You get the feeling that despite his powers, he runs the chance of getting the poo kicked out of him at any moment. Although he possesses some of the requisite "magical" powers of the Merlin of Arthurian Lore, it's only a name borrowed from our Western European historical past. There may be another reason for the attraction to the character, since he's no more fully developed than Corwin of the first five Amber novels. Where Corwin was taciturn, Merlin seems much more a social creature; while Corwin was part of the family, Merlin has to sense his way though the social dysfunction that comprise the Amberite clan.
The writing is solid and well plotted. I have a feeling the five books that comprise the Merlin arc of the Amber stories could hold up as a single book: this novel (Avon mass paperback edition) is a mere 180 pages. Several cliffhangers will either nauseate fans, or cause them to return to the next novel. I noted a few mentions of 80s personal computing subculture: "If Apple takes off," a character said at one point in the book. I must take exception with the title itself. The Trumps of Doom? Aside from its profound lameness, it has no real bearing on the novel itself, at least yet. Still reeling at that one. Trumps of Doom... I guess you can make just about *anything* scary, if you put the words "...of doom" at the end of the sentence.
In all, _Trumps_ is a solid start with a promising premise. I believe I will like the second five Amber novels, and also Zelazny's young magician Merle, much more than Corwin. I enjoyed the book. My fingers are crossed in hopes of an excellent Book Seven (Blood of Amber).