Corwin, a Prince of Amber, is the main character in the first five books of Roger Zelaznys Chronicles of Amber. He is the second son of Oberon and Faiella, and the father or Merlin. Within the novels, much of the plot action centers around Corwin and his family as they plot against one another conspiring to become the King of Amber.
In the first book of the series (Nine Princes in Amber), Corwin is identified as the eldest heir to the throne who has a legitimate claim. His older brother Eric, while born to the same mother, is technically a bastard because at that time Oberon and Faiella were unmarried. All other older siblings are either excluded on other technicalities or dead. Corwin's eldest brother, Benedict, has made it clear that he absolutely does not want the throne and prefers to be General of the Armies of Amber, although because of Benedict's supreme prowess in all manner of combat, he would be completely unchallenged if he wanted the throne. The matter of succession is hotly contested within the family, particularly during the prolonged absence of Oberon, and loyalties were constantly shifting amongst the undecided.
Corwin has dark hair and green eyes His colors are black and silver (alternately gray), and his symbol is a silver rose. Corwin's favoured weapon is his sword Grayswandir, and his use of magic is extremely limited. While a few of his siblings exceed him in certain skills, at arms (Benedict), strength (Gerard), and magic (Brand, Fiona, Bleys), Corwin is well-balanced in most and is the best leader of them all.
Corwin is a quick and strategic thinker. Like his brothers and sisters, he boasts remarkable endurance and regeneration abilities, even more so than his siblings. While Corwin acts with a strong personal code of honor, he is also extremely practical and possess a large degree of common sense. To that end, he will not engage in a fight of principle unless he believes he has a chance to win, and he is willing to employ subterfuge to defeat an opponent
Centuries before the opening of Nine Princes in Amber, while their father Oberon was still ruling in Amber, Corwin fought a duel (or, as Corwin referred to it later, "a simultaneous decision to murder each other") with Eric and nearly died. Eric, fearing their father's wrath, dumped Corwin in Elizabethan England during the time of the black plague. Corwin recovered from the plague, but he suffered brain damage causing amnesia. He proceeded to live out several hundred years of Earth's history as a soldier of fortune until the 1970s, when he was in a car accident and confined to a clinic. Waking with no memories at all, Corwin escapes and makes contact with his his sister Florimel, and soon after his brother Random, using them to return to Amber and finally regain his past (by re-walking on the copy of the Pattern located in the underwater city Rebma).
Once Corwin's memory returns, we learn that he is far from saintly. Like his siblings, he has created his own kingdom in Shadow to rule, calling it Avalon, and in doing so has cast shadows of himself and his kingdom around. While the original Avalon has been destroyed, in the shadow Avalons his name is reviled for cruelty and arrogance. As Benedict says of the Avalon that he has adopted, acting as Lord Protector, "young boys are not named Corwin here, nor am I brother to anyone of that name". Even in Lorraine, the shadow of a shadow where he first encounters the forces of Chaos, he is remembered as a tyrant and butcher. However, it is also implied that this image may be distorted, as it is from a shadow of Avalon in which the real Corwin never ruled. Even so, it seems that his centuries on Earth have somehow mellowed his character, if not his ambition.
Grayswandir is the name of Corwin's sword also known as the Night Blade; its twin is Werewindle, the Day Sword. Both Grayswandir and Werewindle are inscribed with portions of The Pattern of Amber. Corwin uses this blade throughout the first 5 books. In Sign of Chaos, Merlin discovers Grayswandir myseriously placed in Corwin old room in Amber.
In The Courts of Chaos, Corwin inscribed a new Pattern after he incorrectly concluded that Oberon's attempt to repair the Primal Pattern had failed. He created his pattern in a Shadow originally resembling the nearby Courts of Chaos; when his Pattern was complete, it brought a measure of order to that Shadow. Corwin's Pattern created an additional emblem of Order, upsetting the balance of power between the original Pattern and the weakened Logrus of Chaos.
Corwin's Pattern is somewhat different from the original Primal Pattern and the copies of it. It feels more benevolent than Amber's Pattern and its Shadow copies; this is theorized[by whom?] to be a result of Corwin's mellowed personality and his experiences in Paris, France, which he drew on while creating his Pattern. Corwin's Pattern treats its Pattern ghosts as helpers rather than expendable tools.
It appears that the original Pattern of the Amber universe wishes to incorporate Corwin's Pattern into itself, to further its advantage over The Logrus, and that Corwin's Pattern is resisting its incursions, to the extent that the Pattern of Amber could not subdue the independence of Corwin's without being sufficiently weakened to lay itself open to a counter-stroke from the Logrus of Chaos. Likewise, the Logrus seeks to destroy Corwin's Pattern, since it represents an additional artefact of Order against Chaos (although not in accord with the Order of Amber's Pattern) — but equally cannot do so without the risk of a counter-stroke from Amber's Pattern. It is even hinted that Corwin's Pattern may end up forming a third "pole" in the struggle between Ultimate Order and Chaos, ultimately taking neither side and able to retain its independent existence against anything short of what will never happen, namely a combined assault from the Amber Pattern and Logrus (or their champions, the Unicorn and Serpent).
For an in-depth plot summary of Corwin's adventures following his time in the clinic, see:
- ^ Zelazny, Roger (1970). Nine Princes in Amber. Doubleday. ISBN 9997520912.
- ^ Zelazny, Roger (1972). The Guns of Avalon. Doubleday. ISBN 0385085060.
- ^ Zelazny, Roger (1975). Sign of the Unicorn. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-08515-X.
- ^ Zelazny, Roger (1975). The Hand of Oberon. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-08541-9.
- ^ Zelazny, Roger (1976). The Courts of Chaos. Doubleday. ISBN 0385136854.
- ^ "Grayswandir - Wikihack, the NetHack wiki". http://nethack.wikia.com/wiki/Grayswandir. Retrieved 2010-03-22. "One of the most coveted weapons in the game, Grayswandir is a lawful silver saber that can do both double damage (to all targets, without exception) and silver damage, and prevents hallucination."
- ^ "Cheats: Warcraft - ComputerAndVideoGames.com". http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=69620. Retrieved 2010-03-22. "Press Enter during gameplay, then type CORWIN OF AMBER. Press Enter again to type another code in."
- ^ "Grayswandir - LSWiki". http://lostsouls.org/wiki/Grayswandir. Retrieved 2010-03-22. "The name of the blade is Grayswandir. If tale and legend are to be believed, this is the armament of Prince Corwin of Amber, a Pattern-sword bearing a fragmentary mirror-image of the source of cosmic order within it."
For an in-depth plot summary of Corwin's adventures following his time in the clinic, see Nine Princes in Amber, The Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon, and The Courts of Chaos.