In a strange, fantastical way, Zelazny's Amber series are the archetypes of the political fiction genre. At least in the sense that there is not one character who does not have hidden agendas, schemes, and counter-schemes. And, of course, there is even a kingdom at stake. Even Amber, supposedly the closest thing there is to 'real,' is just another pea in the pattern shell game.
So when Corwin, Random, and Ganelon follow a trail to the 'really, real' pattern and discover that the damage to the pattern was the result of the attempted murder of Random's estranged son Martin, it is almost business as usual. Almost, but not quite. Random heads out to discover Martin's fate and Corwin sets about discovering who had summoned Martin into the Pattern and drawn blood. With Chaos itself poised to enter the fray, damage to the pattern threatened everything Amber stood for.
Knowing something bad has happened, and even knowing who was traitor this teime, resolves little. Enemies and friends change places once again. Corwin chases after the master of the pattern and the trumps and finds himself visiting the Courts of Chaos. As the tension gets higher Corwin finds more questions than answers, and just when things show any sign of making sense, Zelazny hits the reader with yet another cliff hanger and the only thing we can do is grab for volume five.
One has to give Zelazny a great deal of credit for keeping the reader's attention in a plot that depends entirely on a series of betrayals. It proves his mastery as a story teller. The children of Oberon are a family that makes the Borgias look like innocents, but even the bad apples are fun to read about. Magic aside this story has much that makes is a medieval melodrama, which is no surprise considering Zelazny's own literary background. Only no medieval story ever took the increasingly baroque turns that the Amber stories do.
Yet Zelazny makes no pretense at deeper, more philosophical meanings. He is first and foremost an expert at the telling of tales. His values are wonder and surprise, his heroes and villains may be flawed, but they are still larger than like. That this series is still in print after all these years is testimony to a level of quality that today's authors still strive to equal.