The PatternEdit

The Pattern is the sentient embodiment of Order. It is capable of manifesting as a Unicorn, which according to Dworkin is the mother of Oberon, and of creating pattern-ghosts of any who have walked its path. In the Merlin cycle, the Pattern's spirit is implied to be older than the Primal Pattern, since it refers to events in its competition with the Logrus that predate Dworkin's creation of that Pattern. It appears to wish to impose unending, unmoving, static pure order over the universe.

Deep under Amber Castle, in the caves beneath the mountain Kolvir, the Pattern is in a huge cavern, luminescent and glowing. It consists of a single, intertwined curve, laid out in a spiderweb-like shape. A member of the Royal Family of Amber can walk along the Pattern to its center in order to gain the power to walk among shadows — possible universes.[1] Once the walker sets foot upon the Pattern, he must continue following its labyrinthine course to the center; stopping for too long, or leaving the pathway of the Pattern, results in a terrible death.

Walking the Pattern is not an easy task. There is a resistance that slows the walker, as if he is wearing lead boots that get heavier and heavier with every step. During the ordeal, the walker passes through several points of extreme difficulty called "veils" — The First Veil, the Second Veil, and the Final Veil. These points represent intense surges in this fierce resistance; however, "breaking through" a Veil causes the resistance to let up a bit.
The Pattern

Once at the Pattern's center, the walker has acquired the power to walk in Shadow. As well, being at the center gives him the opportunity to command the Pattern to send him anywhere he wishes—across the room, back up to Amber Castle, across the world, to another Shadow world, here on Earth, etc.

Primal PatternEdit

During the series, it is revealed that Amber itself is but the first "Shadow" of a Primal Pattern located when the Unicorn of Order leads Corwin to a previously unseen location. The Primal Pattern is guarded by a dragon/Wyvern type creature that apparently has also been placed there to guard Dworkin (previously thought deceased), as Dworkin has, at this point, lost much of his mental faculties. This Primal Pattern is damaged prior to the events of Nine Princes In Amber (by the spilling of Amberite blood on the Pattern - the blood of Martin, son of Random, Oberon's youngest acknowledged child.) Oberon attempts to repair the Pattern, although he realizes the process will kill him. Brand, whom Dworkin acknowledged as his most apt pupil in study on the Pattern, suggests that such repair may not be possible. Brand also suggests when Corwin is inscribing his own Pattern that there cannot be two such centers of order in the multiverse, and that it is necessary to destroy Corwin's Pattern before he can inscribe his own. However, Oberon successfully repairs the Pattern, and it is seen to coexist peacefully with Corwin's Pattern - possibly because both are merely reflections of the Pattern in the Jewel of Judgment.

It is implied that nobody could successfully repair the damaged Pattern perfectly, or reproduce it as it originally was: and that their own personality would be inevitably imprinted on it in the attempt. This is accepted — and desired — by Brand, who wished to destroy the Pattern outright and re-create a new Pattern in his own image, with himself as architect of the new Universe: and a fact either not known or misunderstood by Corwin, who attempts to faithfully recreate the old Pattern (after Brand deceives him into believing Oberon to have failed in his attempt to repair the original) only for his new Pattern to not only evolve differently but eventually resist the attempts of the successfully-repaired Pattern to incorporate it. It follows, from this (and from the fact of Corwin's successful creation of a New Pattern, in which he did not die) that it may not have been necessary for Oberon to die in repairing the Old Pattern: and thus that, since Oberon did indeed die, he may even have done so willingly (and known in advance that this was necessary) as a way to avoid imprinting his personality on the Old Pattern at its re-completion. At any rate, after its repair, the Old Pattern (when displaying sentience) does not appear to display any characteristics of Oberon's personality.

Other PatternsEdit

Through the course of the ten books, the existence of many other alternate Patterns is revealed. There is the Pattern in Rebma (Amber spelled backward), a reflected version of Amber beneath the sea; there is one in the ghost-city reflection of Amber in Tir-na Nog'th; Corwin's own Pattern, off in Shadow; and even imperfect versions of the Pattern found in Shadows very close to the true Pattern. The latter are called 'Broken Patterns' and can be walked by anyone with enough courage to do so. Broken Patterns allow initiates to traverse shadow and perform magic in a similar way to the initiates of the true Patterns. However the broken path manifests itself in a number of ways. The main example is that the break in the Pattern manifests itself in each Shadow the initiate visits. The size of the break depends on the size of the break in the Pattern and one's distance in Shadow from Amber. Broken Pattern mages draw their power directly from the break, similar to drawing their power from Chaos. The Pattern degenerates the farther it is from Amber. The first nine broken images were negotiable but Merlin in the course of Knight of Shadows repaired one presumably leaving only eight. It might be however that other patterns became safe enough to use after this.

The Jewel of JudgmentEdit

The Jewel of Judgement is a large ruby-like gem worn as a pendant around the neck. As the saga progresses, its importance grows. At first it is just a device for controlling the weather, useful in battle, but then Corwin is told that if he walks the Pattern carrying the Jewel, and then uses the power of the Pattern to project himself into it, he will gain a new level of power. When he does this, he finds that the Jewel itself contains a Pattern, in three or even more dimensions. Eventually he learns from Dworkin that the Jewel is the real source of the Pattern of Amber, and that it was obtained from the Unicorn. Corwin uses the Jewel to forge his own Pattern, when he believes that Amber's Pattern has been destroyed. Standing at the center of his Pattern, he is then able to project himself into the final battle at the Courts of Chaos.

The Merlin CycleEdit

In the Merlin Cycle, the second series of five novels in the Chronicles, the Pattern is shown to be sentient. It is able to manifest itself at any point in shadow, and teleport others without their consent. It is also able to create Pattern ghosts, artificial versions of any person who has walked the Pattern.

The Jewel of Judgement is revealed to be the left eye of the Serpent of Chaos, stolen by the Unicorn at some point in the very distant past. It eventually ends up serving as a replacement eye for Coral, allowing her to see the "clear, cold lines of eternity".

Reception and analysisEdit

Naturally, the Pattern is recognized as a symbol of order in scholarly analysis.[2] Some analysis has emphasized the crucial role that the psyche of the Pattern's creator, whether Dworkin in the case of the Pattern of Amber or Corwin in the case of his new Pattern, may be expected to play in the cosmos formed from it.[3]

The Pattern's origins in Chaos have been written of as perhaps illustrating Edmund Husserl's arguments regarding the production of that which is considered objective from subjective phenomena.[4]

The Pattern has been analyzed in metaphorical counterpoint to the Trumps, where the Trumps represent "wild cards" blurring the distinction between perception and reality, but both are sources of empowerment for their users.[5]

In popular cultureEdit

Computer programmer Felix "Dworkin" Croes, creator of the server software Dworkin's Generic Driver or DGD, named the development MUD for his project The Pattern.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lindskold, Jane M. (1993). Roger Zelazny. Twayne Publishers. p. 71. ISBN 080573953X. "Initiates of the Pattern of Amber can create new realities simply by imagining a place and then going to it. At best, however, these characters and their experiences provide metaphors for Zelazny's thoughts on writing as a form of creation."
  2. ^ Beetz, Kirk H. (1996). Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction. 5. Walton Beacham Publishing Co.. pp. 775. ISBN 0933833385. "Amber represents "form" or "order" or "pattern" — indeed it was formed by the creation of a "Pattern" in the midst of Chaos, a Pattern that is inscribed in the genes of all of the Lords of Amber."
  3. ^ Yoke, Carl B. (2007). Roger Zelazny. Borgo Press. p. 89. ISBN 0916732045. "Third, it is not only achieving the goal that is important but the style with which it is accomplished. Corwin expresses this concept as he inscribes the new Pattern. He knows that the universe he is creating will be an extension of himself when it is finished just as the existing Pattern is itself an extension of Dworkin's mind. He knows that the richness of the new universe, its character so to speak, will be determined by the details that he puts into the new Pattern [...]"
  4. ^ Tymieniecka, Anna-Teresa (1991-07-31). Ingardeniana III. Roman Ingarden's Aesthetics in a New Key and the Independent Approaches of Others: The Performing Arts, the Fine Arts, and Literature (Analecta Husserliana). Springer. pp. 336. ISBN 0792310144. "But in the end we discover that the Pattern of Amber itself originated in the Courts of Chaos. This cosmological plot might have been written to make Husserl's point that "The world is the totality of what is taken for granted as verifiable... [but we must go back] to the ways in which this subjectivity 'has brought about', and continues to shape the world through its concealed internal 'method'. The interest of the phenomenologist is not aimed at the ready-made world... which is something already 'constituted'. (Crisis, pp. 176–77)"
  5. ^ Bleiler, Everett Franklin (1985). Supernatural fiction writers: fantasy and horror, Volume 2. Simon & Schuster. p. 1116. ISBN 0684178087. "Seeming and being are difficult to tell apart here, and with each new addition to the series, more wild cards enter the game. This metaphor is, in fact, exact, since a tarotlike pack of cards combines with the Pattern of Amber to give the family members their mental powers over Shadow."
  6. ^ Busey, Andrew (1995). Secrets of the MUD Wizards. SAMS Publishing. pp. 456. ISBN 0-672-30723-5. "Pattern, The [...] This is the home MUD for Dworkin's Generic Driver (DGD). It is the best place to go to ask DGD-related questions or to learn more about DGD."