After three books with continuously twisting story-lines Roger Zelazny provides more straightforwardness in Knight Of Shadows (1989), the fourth book of the second series about Amber. The first three books were mostly about the interaction between people. This book is all about greater powers and how they change the perspective of the Amber universe.
As Knight Of Shadows follows this change of perspective Zelazny adds several new ideas to the story. Personally I am a bit more human than greater power oriented person. It is interesting but it is humans who make actions and behavior more recognizable and relatable.
Knight Of Shadows also contains a fair number of silliness and as a fourth book also reminded me of the fourth book of the first series, The Hand Of Oberon, as quite some time was spent on changing the perspective on the events in the past story.
One thing that does make me wonder sometimes is the timescale. At times I have the feeling that Zelazny just adds things as he sees fit without using a chronological organization of events. In the books it is often mentioned that time can be different in other places, but one cannot truly go back in time. It is not something that is bothersome within the story, but when references are made and you remember at what place in time they put them, they do give the feeling that it doesn’t always fit.
After three books with a lot of things happening I’ve started to realize the main character is actually suffering from uncertainty and strong will. He even partially admits it. He is living his life, doing things he is interested in but does not really want to fit in. He is a loner who doesn’t like responsibilities. He is no charmer but his powers and heritage allow him to obtain things easily to which he shows a dual behavior, as he does not want to commit.
In this sense we have a more normal main character, but I liked the more iconic figure that was the main character of the first series far more. Even so, this makes the main character more real and probably quite likable.
Knight Of Shadows is not on the same level as the previous books, which were about equal, as the theme and style has changed. This change is interesting in certain ways but it does not provide the drive that was before. Even the ending is lackluster. It’s not a cliffhanger but not an open ending either. I somewhat had the feeling that Zelazny was not sure what direction to take the story. Before he was just enjoying himself with a complex story, but he was having trouble to bring it to a certain conclusion. He has taken a direction in Knight Of Shadows which will lead to a conclusion in the final book of Amber.