To say this book's narrative flows like a dream is not entirely a compliment. One fantasic and confusing scene blends into another, in which sword fights, bizarre symbolism, and magical guides figure prominantly. Much remains obscure and unexplained by the end of the novel, perhaps to be returned to in later offerings, perhaps just thrown out there as a loose thread. The first couple chapters are devoted to recapping the backstory which has taken place in the previous books in this series, in the form of an extended conversation between two of the charactors, something which I expected a writer of Zelazny's skill to do more unobtrusively.
This second Amber series is but a Shadow (ha,ha) of the first, (which itself seemed to become more distorted and unreal the further it got away from the brilliant, original, and hard edged first book, Nine Princes in Amber.) Zelazny's writing can't help but be intensely poetic, and - don't get me wrong - the book does contain significant merit and imagination, and might in fact be considered a jewel in the crown of a lesser writer, but compared with Zelazny's other writing, I feel in this spin off series he has been driven to plagiarizing himself.
For Zelazny at his best try some of his stand alone books like "Jack of Shadows", "Doorways in the Sand", and "The Dream Master."