In this second book of the original Amber series, Zelazny brings his protagonist Corwin back from the edge of physical and mental ruin. In this sense, it is the most driven and intriguing novel of the series. It also continues the loose analogy to the Rocky series, part two of which has the hero recover from defeat and return with a passionate vengeance. There's even a training sequence and an old enemy made into an ally in 'Guns' to strengthen the comparison. Of course, Burgess Meredith isn't in the book, but no work of fiction is perfect.
Without too much trouble, Zelazny extends himself beyond the ouevre of Stallone, raising the issues of family devotion and betrayal, lust for power, and the close relationship and fuzzy distinction between good and evil. What more does a growing mind need?
Of course it gets more complicated than that.
This, the second book of the Chronicles of Amber, is a much more traditional fantasy yarn, with magic, monsters and adventure aplenty. Yet once again Zelazny manages to effortlessly combine this with modern day elements into an almost seamless mix of genres.
There is also nothing lacking in the character development. While interesting new characters abound, our protagonist also continues to change, and we come to see a side of him that may justify some of his siblings feelings.
Add to that another cliffhanger ending and this book has almost nothing against it, except perhaps that you might go insane waiting for that elusive next volume...