The stars fill the skies over the mountains beyond Kolvir.
This gala has ended-- now the lords and ladies begin to leave the castle while the sounds of a few stringed instruments are still drifting out of the Great Hall and into the fog rising off the moat.
Crystalline lights flicker but never fail at the steps leading down to the carriage park. The steps are ice cool marble, in sharp contrast to the ancient stone of the walls of Castle Amber.
Amber is also that place where the best party, with the best people, in their finest can make you forget any problem for an evening.
That place where the Festival of the Unicorn brings sparkle to the eyes of the commonest village girl. And sees green ribbons in Florimel's hair.
That place where each Year End finds King Random chopping a log that will burn all night long in the library fireplace of Castle Amber. Wherein each and any person of the kingdom may drop by the library and toast the year to come with Random as the old one passes.
That place where the Debut Spring Fantasy leads to parades, speeches, new gowns, and perhaps a turn around the dance floor with Prince Gerard.
That place . . . that amazing, wonderful place.
Amber stirs deep emotions in the hardest heart. Some of these emotions are violent, but let's set them aside. Many places on the Golden Circle will illustrate the dark side of Amber. What parts of Amber remain when blood isn't being spilled?
Religion? I don't think many of the Royal Family are impressed-- yet, the Amber noble families and general populace seem to think differently. There are those that suggest the division between Sand, Delwin and the rest of the Royals was based on faith. Certainly, faith can absorb the heart and the mind. Even hardened men like Corwin and Random are often touched by awe when returning to Amber. Simple familiarity? No, I can't agree.
Beauty? Well, RZ does not spend much overt prose on it, and yet, I come away with a sense, a clear sense, that Amber is a very beautiful place. A place that penetrates the senses. A place that you cannot forget once you have seen it. Novice skills with Shadow walking are aided by the intense recollections, the memories that are so vivid, of Amber. When I deal with novice Amber players, I spend time on descriptive prose of the environ. I slip it into the morning air, the seasonal weather, the smell of the kitchen. I summon a delightful quality associated with harmony of form or color, excellence of craftsmanship, truthfulness, originality, or another property. Amber must be the conspicuous example of beauty as we understand it.
Reality? Is this the crux of Amber? Overtly, yes. Amber is the city of which all others are but Shadows. But I think the only way to live it day in, day out, is through appreciation of its Beauty-- not the philosophical Reality of it. Or as Bleys might say, "Reality? Yes, we have that aplenty-- but give me a pretty girl and an impossible task to quicken my blood."
Love? Can we stretch our vision of Amber this far? Yes, we must. Is Corwin driven by hate, or love? Both, I say. He talks about his hate a lot, but he also slips every once in a while and speaks of his deep feeling of affection for Amber. Not just at the end, when he summarizes his family with a weary forgiveness, but early on when he first hears of Amber. When just the word quickens his blood and makes his mind expand. He loves Amber.
So do we.
If ever I would leave you-- It wouldn't be in summer.
Seeing you in summer-- I never would go.
Your hair streaked with sun-light,
Your lips red as flame,
Your face with a lustre that puts gold to shame!
But if I'd ever leave you-- It couldn't be in autumn.
How I'd leave in autumn I never will know.
I've seen how you sparkle
When fall nips the air.
I know you in autumn-- And I must be there.
And could I leave you running merrily through the snow?
Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire's glow?
If ever I would leave you-- How could it be in spring-time?
Knowing how in spring I'm bewitched by you so?
Oh, no! not in spring-time!Summer, winter or fall!
No, never could I leave you-- at all!
If Ever I Would Leave You -
works of Alan Lerner & Frederick Loewe