- Cain and Abel: All of them consider their siblings capable of a little fratricide. And they're right.
- The Chessmaster: Unfortunately for them, the long centuries of sibling rivalry have left them Properly Paranoid. They can't stop thinking in terms of who's about to betray them and why, even when trust would be the wisest option.
- Functional Magic: Mostly of the 'inherent gift' type. All the serious contenders have it, generally either in the form of the Pattern or the Logrus. Some have additional sources.
- Healing Factor: A very slow version for Amberites: they can recover from almost anything, but major damage (paralysis, blinding, loss of a limb) can take months or years. A much quicker variation for shape-shifters.
- Immortal ImmaturityI sometimes think of us as a bunch of mean little old ladies in a combination rest home and obstacle course.
- One Steve Limit: In spite of infinite universes full of imperfect duplicates of themselves, nobody has to ask "Which Benedict?"
- Really 700 Years Old: Eternal youthfulness is a standard part of the package.
- Super Strength / World's Strongest Man: So are superhuman vitality and inhuman strength.
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Prince Benedict of AmberEldest of three children of Oberon and his first wife, Cymnea (the other two, Osric and Finndo, are dead).
- Awakening the Sleeping Giant: In the Licensed Game, if Benedict is forced to take the throne to prevent Amber from collapsing, it's over, just as Corwin feared in the novels. That said, it's one of the better endings, since it's one of the few where Corwin won't be killed and can live unmolested, and it's definitely one of the best possible endings for Amber as a whole.
- Berserk Button:
- Seen in the second book. For some reason, Benedict strongly disapproves of discussions of the various family claims to the throne. It's implied that he's simply sick to death of the family habit of plotting, hence his self-exile to get away from everyone.
- The deaths of his Shadow retainers are enough to drive him into a rage to kill his younger brother.
- Big Brother Instinct: Not very strongly. But he won't allow his younger siblings to kill each other in his presence.
- Cain and Abel: Zig-Zagged. It would take a powerful incentive for Benedict to decide to kill one of his siblings...
- The Chessmaster: Played with. He's generally considered an unbeatable strategist, to the extent that Corwin says if Benedict wanted the throne, Corwin would bow down and pay him homage because there would be no way to stop him. But Benedict doesn't care to turn those abilities against his siblings.
- Cool Horse: A black-and-red-striped horse named Glemdenning, which seems virtually fearless - earthquakes, forest fires and so forth don't seem to faze it.
- Fatal Attraction: Sleeps with the hellmaid Lintra, who happens to be commanding an army invading his realm, and who later cuts off his arm.
- Four-Star Badass: He's used the nature of Shadow to make a scientific study of warfare, making him probably the best commander in the multiverse. He's also easily the best swordsman among the Amberites.
- Handicapped Badass: Events prior to Benedict's first appearance in The Guns of Avalon cost him his right forearm. Although he shares the Healing Factor of his family, it works slowly enough that his appearances in all future books invoke this trope.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Played with. Benedict (great-grand)fathered Dara with a creature of Chaos, the latter of which is a shapeshifter. Dara is said to be "the first of [her] line to bear all the markings of humanity," but whatever Lintra and her fellow hellmaidens were, she was probably close enough to not be this trope with Benedict.
- Immortal Immaturity: Played with. He still can't cope very well with family, but at least he treats ordinary Shadow beings like people, not toys.
- The Juggernaut: Do not piss off Benedict. Ever. He has spent countless lifetimes fighting wars to perfect his skill as a general and is nigh-invincible with a blade. He will not listen to your stammered excuses, and he will cut through trees to get at you quicker.
- Manipulative Bastard: Averted. Benedict uses his brilliance mostly to stay out of family politics.
- Master Swordsman: Even more so than the other Amberites to whom this applies. Although Benedict is The Juggernaut in a fair fight, some of the talents ascribed to him by fans and in the RPG push him into Memetic Badass territory - his ability to parry the bullets of invisible snipers, for example.
- Memetic Badass: In-Universe. When it starts to seem likely that one of his siblings is the Big Bad, Corwin has a short inner monologue to the effect of, "I really, really hope it's not Benedict, because if it is, we're screwed." Later, Fiona says the Big Bad can't be Benedict because if he'd wanted the throne, he would simply have taken it through military might and strategy, and nobody - not even Oberon - would've been able to stop him.Corwin: "I fear Benedict. [...] He is the Master of Arms for Amber. Can you conceive of a millennium? A thousand years? Several of them? Can you understand a man who, for almost every day of a lifetime like that, has spent some time dwelling with weapons, tactics, strategy? [...] All that there is of military science thunders in his head. He has often journeyed from shadow to shadow, witnessing variation after variation on the same battle, with but slightly altered circumstances, in order to test his theories of warfare. He has commanded armies so vast that you could watch them march by day after day and see no end to the columns. Although he is inconvenienced by the loss of his arm, I would not wish to fight with him either with weapons or barehanded. It is fortunate that he has no designs upon the throne, or he would be occupying it right now. If he were, I believe that I would give up at this moment and pay him homage. I fear Benedict."
- Noodle Incident/Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: The Moonriders of Ghenesh were the only serious threat to Amber in her entire history (prior to the Black Road) and their invasion force made it as far as the slopes of Kolvir itself. It's implied that they overpowered Oberon himself, Eric, Corwin, Bleys and all the other Princes of Amber. Benedict was recalled and stopped them cold with an elite regiment in the pass above Arden.
- Only Sane Man: He willingly exiled himself for centuries because he knew his siblings would not react responsibly to Oberon's absence.
- Papa Wolf: Subverted. In the second book, after hearing Dara's sob story, Corwin thinks he's seeing this - he's actually seeing a more conventional Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Played straight in the fifth book.
- Parental Substitute: To Martin.
- Sole Survivor: Not just during his centuries of military adventure off in Shadow; he's also the only survivor of Oberon's first set of children. This may explain some of his other traits, considering that the family scheming he despises was what got his two brothers killed.
- The Strategist: Shown in books two, five, eight, and mentioned several times in a Remember When You Blew Up a Sun? sort of way.Random (describing his battle with a mighty Shadow serpent): "Benedict would not have missed the eye. He would have had one in each pocket by then and be playing football with the head while composing a footnote to Clausewitz."
- The Stoic: When Merlin asks Benedict to explain something and is told "Not now," he admits the answer was twice as long as he expected it to be.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Kind of. Corwin says he reminds him of Ichabod Crane.
- Tranquil Fury: A textbook example of the trope occurs in the second book, when Corwin is framed for the death of some of Benedict's servants.Benedict (attacking): Murderer.Corwin (retreating like crazy): I don't understand. I haven't murdered anybody lately. Certainly not in Avalon.Benedict (pressing the attack): Liar.
Bill RothAn exception to the general tropes listed above: Bill is just an ordinary human attorney on 'our' Earth whom Corwin knows fairly well. Corwin tries to keep Bill uninvolved with his abruptly far-more-complicated life, but to no avail.
- Armor-Piercing Question: to Corwin, cutting through the latter's attempt to bluff away magical recovery."Are you human?"
- Fantastically Indifferent: He copes pretty well with most of Corwin's revelations.
- Genre Savvy: Lampshades his own status.Bill: I feel as if I'm one of those minor characters[...] who never finds out what it is all about.
- Mauve Shirt: Subverted. Astoundingly, Bill survives.
- Muggle Best Friend
- Unfazed Everyman: Well, okay, slightly fazed.
Prince Bleys of AmberSecond child of Oberon and his third wife, Clarissa.
- Disney Death
- Fiery Redhead
- Four-Star Badass: Subverted in the first book when he and Corwin are summarily overwhelmed by Eric's generalship: played straight later on, when Corwin is told Bleys deliberately lost that battle in order to get Corwin out of the way. He does win several battles, some of which had him massively outnumbered for; it was Eric's control of the weather that caused most of his casualties.
- Heel–Face Turn: One of the three who initially ally with Chaos to get Oberon out of the way.
- Karma Houdini: He's included in the general amnesty in the fifth book.
- Loveable Rogue
- Master Swordsman: His abilities are underplayed in comparison to his brothers Benedict, Eric, and Corwin, but he's still remarkably good.
- Mook Horror Show: The battle on the face of Kolvir.
- The Trickster
- The Unseen: After the first book he switches to this tactic.
Prince Brand of AmberThird child of Oberon and his third wife, Clarissa. Born after Llewella, from a temporary reconciliation between his parents.
- Big Bad: Of the first five books.
- Break Them by Talking: Attempted against Benedict in Tir-na Nog'th, although in this case, he's just buying time while using the Jewel of Judgement to paralyze Benedict.
- Cool Sword: Werewindle, a gold-embossed sword with certain Pattern-related powers: the reader only learns of its existence in the eighth book, long after Brand is dead.
- Disney Villain Death
- Evil Gloating: Tends to do that more and more in books four and five. Admittedly, he’s probably more than half-mad at this point.
- Evil Redhead
- Eyepatch of Power: In The Courts of Chaos.
- In Their Own Image: Doesn't involve time travel (more like re-drawing the Pattern), but otherwise played straight.
- Fiery Redhead
- From a Certain Point of View
- Meaningful Name: "Brand" means "fire" or "flames" in German.
- Mole in Charge: He's one of the three who allies with Chaos to get Oberon out of the way, but he has an endgame in mind that even his allies aren't aware of.
- Playing with Fire: His cigarette trick.
- Redhead In Green
- Sanity Slippage
- Villain Teleportation: His "living Trump" power.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: He'd always been prone to strong mood swings. His exposure to the Fount of Power apparently took him over the edge.
Prince Caine of AmberThe eldest child of Oberon and his fourth wife, Rilga.
- Big Damn Heroes
- Body Double: He's fond of this tactic.
- Black Knight
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder
- Faking the Dead
- Killed Off for Real: Or is he?
- Knife Nut
- The Man Behind the Man: According to Julian, Caine was the brains of their triumvirate.
- Manipulative Bastard: Caine doesn't even pretend to like the others, except Julian.
- Name of Cain: Well, duh. He ends up as the only prince to actually kill a brother with his own hands.
- The Unseen: During most of books three through five.
Princess Coral of BegmaCoral is a princess of Begma, a Shadow-realm close enough to Amber to trade and otherwise hold commerce with the city. Thus, not all of the tropes apply to her. Well, actually, only Cain and Abel and Immortal Immaturity are disqualified, and even those may just be due to her not being immortal for long enough yet. Coral is actually Oberon's daughter via an affair with her mother Kinta, wife of the Begman Prime Minister.
- Badass Bystander: Coral starts out in this role and rapidly becomes far more central to events.
- Damsel in Distress: At one point, Merlin finds her lying in an enchanted sleep at the center of the Broken Pattern. Sound familiar?
- Incest Is Relative: She's both Merlin's Love Interest and his half-aunt. She was also meant to have an Arranged Marriage with her half-nephew Rinaldo, but the arrangers probably didn't know they were related.
- Secret Identity: Coral is an illegitimate daughter of Oberon.
- Took a Level in Badass: Dworkin tends to Coral's eye injury by implanting the Jewel of Judgement in place of her missing eye. Coral immediately starts displaying unusual powers similar to those Brand and Corwin had when they attuned to the Jewel. Unfortunately, Author Existence Failure intervened before the reasons and consequences of this surgery could be explored.
Prince Corwin of Amber; Carl CoreySecond child of Oberon and his second wife, Faiella, and the first of their children to be born after their marriage. Hated rival of his brother Eric. Main protagonist and viewpoint character of the first five books.
- A God I Am Not: One of the few family members to take this attitude... in his humbler moments. He does occasionally recruit armies from a shadow that thinks he's a god, and he thinks of them as mercenaries being payed in "spiritual coin".
- Always Someone Better: Towards Eric, initially.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Not exactly - but his memory loss and three hundred years on Earth helped him to become a better person.
- Amnesiac Hero: Mostly cured by the middle of the first book, although he continues to suffer from bouts of plot-convenient amnesia here and there.
- Anti-Hero: Generally a Good Is Not Nice type. And this is considerably nicer than he used to be. Stories about his past imply he used to be a Byronic Hero or Nominal Hero.
- The Atoner: Having used the terrible power of a blood curse to hurt Amber in his darkest moment, Corwin spends the rest of the first series trying to make it right.
- Attending Your Own Funeral: Well, Visiting Your Own Memorial Tomb. Corwin quite likes it up there. And then he takes delight in pissing on his own grave, mainly because how many people even get the opportunity?
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The closer Corwin gets to becoming king of Amber, the more he realizes he doesn’t really want to.
- Big Eater
- Brother-Sister Incest: Has romantic feelings towards Deirdre, his full sister. Oberon forbids such unions, though, and nobody dares to defy him.
- Character Development: Particularly in the second book.
- Combat Pragmatist: Corwin IS this trope. He will fight to win and use any dirty tactic necessary to do so.Borel (dying): Oh, basely done! I had expected better of thee.
- Cool Sword: Greyswandir, which has a silver coat on the blade (useful for killing werewolves) and Pattern-related powers.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Determinator / Implacable Man: Depending on your perspective.
- Eye Scream: Happens to Corwin in the first book."...Then he had me blinded and sent to the dungeons."He leaned forward and studied my face. "Yes," he said, "I had heard that. How was it done?""Hot irons," I said, wincing involuntarily and repressing an impulse to clutch at my eyes. "I passed out partway through the ordeal."
- Fate Worse Than Death: What's intended for Corwin when he's blinded and tossed into the dungeons to be forgotten except for once a year when he's paraded around as a trophy of Eric's rule. Later Corwin is told that this torture was "for his protection," although his source had good reason to cover up the details.
- First-Person Perspective: For the first five books.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Grows a new pair of eyes after the last set got seared out of his head with red-hot irons.
- Green Eyes: Indicating that he's driven by envy.
- Healing Factor: Of all the Amberites his is supposed to be the fastest and strongest. Nobody was really surprised that he regrew his eyes but nobody expected him to do it in just under four years while being horribly neglected in Amber's dungeons.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Eventually, almost everything he thought about his siblings is turned upside-down. Could be due to his own Character Development, though.
- Identity Amnesia: Starts off with this in the first book; the reasons for it are explored in the third and fourth.
- In Its Hour of Need: Returns to Lorraine, a shadow of the Avalon he once ruled, to help defeat the Chaosite incursions there.
- Incest Is Relative: Sleeps with, and has a son with, Dara, his half-great-great-great-niece.
- Knight in Sour Armor
- Master Swordsman: The third (possibly second) best around.
- May–December Romance: With Dara. Maybe. The time differentials make it hard to tell.
- Mook Horror Show: The mook deserved it, but...... it was not long before I overtook him, riding as though he were pursued by the Devil, which he was. I spoke not a word when I unhorsed him, nor afterward, and I did not use my blade, though he drew his own. I hurled his broken body into a high oak tree, and when I looked back it was dark with birds.
- Necessarily Evil: Corwin at one point describes himself as 'a part of that evil that exists to oppose other evil'.
- Not So Different: From Eric.
- Private Eye Monologue
- Sanity Slippage: During his imprisonment.
- Unreliable Narrator: Corwin narrates the first five books and demonstrably gets some things wrong, either through ignorance or misremembering. Also, his descriptions of his siblings are slanted through his personal prejudices.
- Victory Is Boring: Corwin found this out after Eric's death, and soon decided that becoming King wasn't for him after all.
- Warrior Poet: Literally. A renowned swordsman and poet in Amber. On Earth, Corwin was both a soldier and a composer of popular music. His narration exemplifies the trait as well, switching from hard-nosed, cynical commentary to prettily-expressed, poetic sentiment.
- He is said to have composed "The Ballad of the Water-Crossers," the anthem of Amber's merchant navy (the most important aspect of their culture).
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Played with.
- What Have I Done: Has this moment upon beholding Garnath near the end of Nine Princes in Amber.
- You Wake Up in a Room: He begins the series in a long-term care facility, and has to reconstruct his past.
Dara of House SawallA Mysterious Waif Corwin encounters in the Shadow Avalon. She is the great-granddaughter of Benedict through an affair with his mortal enemy, the hell-maid Lintra of Chaos. Dara seduces Corwin before revealing herself to be an agent of the Courts of Chaos, and later gives birth to their son, Merlin. She is descended from Houses Helgram and Hendrake of Chaos and married to Duke Gramble of House Sawall, with whom she has two younger sons, Jurt and Despil.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: She manipulates her son Merlin onto the throne of Chaos, only to find that he is no longer under her (magical or emotional) control.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: She, Mandor, and the Logrus are the conspirators driving events in books seven through ten.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Rejects Corwin at the end of the fifth book because he killed her old dueling master (and presumable relative of some degree), Lord Borel Hendrake, and not in honorable combat.
- Face Heel Revolving Door: Dara is this trope. Could almost be a trope namer or codifier.
- Incest Is Relative: Sleeps with, and has a son with, Corwin, her half-great-great-great-uncle.
- The Ingenue: Subverted.
- Irony: Dara's sudden-but-inevitable betrayals always seem to come just as the side she just left is about to win.
- My Beloved Smother: Has been plotting and conniving Merlin's path since before he was born, and was willing to attempt using Mind Control on him to make him go along with it.
- Shape Shifter
- Tsundere: She shows her attraction to Corwin by challenging him immediately to a fencing match. If one assumes she really cares for Corwin at all, then her true personality reflects this trope even more strongly, to Yandere levels.
- Walking Spoiler: Just about any information about Dara will spoil several revelations from both the Corwin and Merlin series.
Princess Deirdre of AmberThird child of Oberon and his second wife, Faiella, who died giving birth to her.
- Badass Princess: At one point in Nine Princes in Amber, she and her brothers are attacked by werewolves. She is unarmed, so she grapples one and snaps its spine.
- Damsel in Distress: When we first meet her, Deirdre is tied to a tree and has to be rescued (although she joins the fight once released). At the end of the series, she is held hostage by Brand. This time it doesn’t end well.
- Faux Action Girl: During the battle at the Courts of Chaos, she is the most heavily armored of the princesses and wields a large axe. Two minutes later, Brand is holding a knife to her throat.
- Debatable, as Brand can take on Benedict. Deirdre may not have had an opportunity to defend herself - if, for instance, she accepted a Trump contact and he overwhelmed her as he once did to Martin.
- Killed Off for Real
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin
- Sacrificial Lion
- Taking You with Me
- The Vamp: Despite Corwin's sympathetic portrayal, there are shades of this.
- Badass Grandpa: Of the Amber princes.
- Fisher King
- Hero of Another Story: Long ago, he defied the Lords of Chaos, stole a body part from an Anthropomorphic Personification of Chaos, and used it to transfigure The Multiverse. Resulting in Amber, Earth and all the other realities of Shadow.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Dworkin claims that he fathered Oberon with the Unicorn. Since he's a shapeshifter, it's possible; but he's also notably mad and nearly as big a compulsive liar as the rest of his family, so who knows.
- Obfuscating Insanity: A variation, in that Dworkin really is insane until the Pattern is repaired, but his conversation even in his lucid moments is so bizarre that nobody's sure how much they can trust what he says.
- Shape Shifter
- Time Abyss: He became immortal when the universe took its present shape.
- Trickster Mentor: And crazy to boot.
Prince Eric of AmberEldest child of Oberon and his second wife, Faiella. Eric was born from an affair before his parents actually married, while Oberon was still married to Cymnea. The hated rival of his brother Corwin.
- Bastard Bastard: Eric, bastard son of Oberon and Faiella. Mortally wounds his brother Corwin and carries his comatose body off to some plague-infested Shadow. Later, he locks Corwin up and burns his eyes out with a red hot iron (Though to be fair, the blinding was Julian's idea.)
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: to Corwin.
- Disc One Final Boss: Initially appears to be the Big Bad of the series. By the end of book 2, though, the real threat is revealed to be something else entirely.
- The Evil Prince: Subverted.
- Heroic Sacrifice
- Killed Off for Real
- Master Swordsman: The second (possibly) best around.
- Nothing Personal: Eric doesn't use this trope in so many words, but he's willing to put blood feuds aside for the good of the kingdom.
- The Reliable One: Much as Corwin hates to admit it.
- The Unfavorite: Oberon wasn't fond of him. Fiona admits that her cabal conspired to inflame this dislike.
Princess Fiona of AmberEldest child of Oberon and his third wife, Clarissa.
- Brainy Brunette / Fiery Redhead: Both subverted: Fiona's the brainy redhead.
- The Chessmaster: It's been remarked that while (most) of her siblings play the game of Amber, Fiona plays with the game.
- Cool Old Lady: How Merlin sees her in the second series.
- Evil Redhead: Formerly a straight version, by Courts of Chaos Fiona is as close as it gets without actually being on the bad guys’ side.
- Heel–Face Turn: But not the High-Heel–Face Turn variety.
- Hot Witch: Her vanity is alluded to in Corwin's narration.
- Karma Houdini: She was part of the cabal that intended to use the Courts of Chaos to unseat Oberon. On the other hand, she exerted herself pretty heavily to defend Amber, so her pardon might be justified.
- Lady of Black Magic
- Manipulative Bitch
- Redhead In Green
Princess Florimel of AmberThe only child of Oberon and his fifth wife, Dybele.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: She doesn't feel safe without a powerful protector. Whoever's on top tends to win her loyalty.
- Crazy-Prepared: She's not a match for most of the others in a fight. For this reason she maintains six huge attack dogs in her home... and carries a grenade in her purse.
- Dumb Blonde: She's not outright dumb, but is mostly out of her depth and regarded as such by the others.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: a little.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: In the big battle in the fifth book, she's commanding archers.
- Hello, Nurse!: She's the pretty one.
- Only Known By His Nickname: Her rather fancy birth name is eschewed in favor of 'Flora'.
- Silk Hiding Steel: In Corwin's story she's seen as a light-weight, though she does know how to wind up on the winning side. In Merlin's story she comes off as more confident and formidable, most likely due to the shift in narrator viewpoint.
Prince Gerard of AmberThe third child of Oberon and his fourth wife, Rilga.
- Big Brother Instinct: Despite being born after most of the other Princes, Gerard displays this trope.
- The Big Guy: The royalty of Amber don't usually team up, but in those rare situations, Gerard is the strong, reliable one.
- Cain and Abel: He subverts the trope that most of his family shares.Brand: He is the only decent one among us, you know.Corwin: He's high on my list.
- The Caretaker: To Brand, for a while.
- Dumb Muscle: While he is not dumb per se, his trusting and straightforward nature makes him appear like this in comparison to his scheming relatives. On the other hand, he's not usually considered a threat, so nobody goes after him.
- Gentle Giant: By comparison, at any rate. Don't push him.
- Good Is Not Soft: In Sign of the Unicorn, Gerard suspects Corwin of fratricide and treason. Gerard takes him to an out-of-the-way place, knocks him silly, dangles him over a thousand-foot drop, and delivers a Badass Boast.Gerard: "You may be as innocent as you say or as guilty as possible[...] Look down at the black road. Death is the limit of the distance you travel if that is your doing. I have shown you my strength once again, lest you have forgotten. I can kill you, Corwin. Do not even be certain that your blade will protect you, if I can get my hands on you but once. And I will, to keep my promise. My promise is only that if you are guilty I will kill you the moment I learn of it."
- Manipulative Bastard: Subverted; he's less manipulative than his brothers.
- Super Strength: True of all the Princes, but Gerard is acknowledged as the very strongest. Corwin, who is capable of using a recliner as a lethal throwing weapon, regards Gerard's strength as "a thing of legend." At one point, he snaps a chain that had successfully held one of his brothers in place for years, and begins using it to dispense Chain Pain to his enemies.
- Multiverse’s Strongest Man: As indicated under Super Strength.
GhostwheelAt one point Merlin, having taken an interest in computer design (after his phases of interest in sorcery and Trump artistry), picks a particular Shadow where the physical laws will allow him to design a machine programmed like a computer, but capable of designing 'virtual' Trumps instantly and thus reaching through Shadow. Soon, it develops its own personality and agenda. Subverting the usual tropes, Ghostwheel doesn't turn into the Big Bad of the series. Since it's an "ideally synthesized" being, usually only present as an immaterial projection, and quite young, it doesn't share in the tropes listed at the top of the page aside from Functional Magic.
- A God Am I: Played with. He asks his creator, "Am I a god?" at one point, but never quite acquires the arrogance to play this trope straight... particularly after he encounters some of the forces in this series who play the trope straight with more justification.
- A.I. is a Crapshoot: Merlin didn't actually intend to create artifical sentience. Luckily for him, Ghostwheel is childlike in his early days - unreliable, but not malevolent.
- Benevolent Genie: He has various powers, focusing on surveillance and transporting things across dimensions, and he'll usually help Merlin out on request.
- The Gadfly: Ghostwheel is a little flighty and easily distracted. At one point, Merlin worries that Ghostwheel might have trapped him in an illusionary reality simply for amusement.
- Instant A.I., Just Add Water: Or, in this case, add the ability to open doorways to anywhere.
Queen Jasra of KashfaA woman from Shadow (near the Courts of Chaos) who shows up as an inexplicable enemy of Amber in the seventh book. Looks human; has a poisonous bite... which sums up her personality as well, actually. Mother of Luke/Rinaldo by Brand, former servant of Dara, mentor of Julia.
- Dead Partner / Dragon Ascendant: Brand was married.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: In Kashfa she seduced the captain of the royal guard to help her carry out a coup. The details are a bit vague about what happened after that, but when Luke carries out a second coup to try to put her back on the throne it's made very clear to him that there would be a rebellion if she ever came back.
- My Beloved Smother: Acts as this to Rinaldo.
- As part of the Always Someone Better dynamic between Merlin and Luke, her attitude towards Luke is more conventionally maternal than Dara's is towards Merlin (she keeps tabs on his girlfriends and college grades, and even attends his sporting meets), and he is very capable of denying her if need be. Her final appearance, in the short stories following Prince of Chaos, has her wishing him the best of luck in ruling Kashfa.
- The Vamp: Unapologetic about it.
Prince Julian of AmberThe second child of Oberon and his fourth wife, Rilga.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Unrequited, towards Fiona.
Fiona: "Julian has no friends. That frosty personality of his is warmed only by thoughts of himself."
- This makes Fiona's nasty comment about Julian in Sign of the Unicorn Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Cool Horse: The grey stallion Morgenstern - seemingly tireless and fearless, capable of astonishing speed and agility. It may be a horse-shaped construct rather than simply an extraordinary animal: Corwin recalls at one point that Julian created it, and Random (after trying a few shots) is pretty sure that it's bulletproof.Morgenstern stood five hands taller than any other horse I had ever seen, and its hooves were like polished steel and its eyes were the dead color of a Weimeraner dog's.
- Deadpan Snarker: He doesn't like Corwin, or much of anybody else, but he's too fond of his self-control to be aggressive about it.Julian: "We spend so much time lying to each other that I decided it might be amusing to say what I really felt. Just to see whether anyone noticed."
- Egomaniac Hunter
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game
- Icy Blue Eyes: a sign of his cold, remorseless nature.
- It's Personal: When Caine's body is found, Julian insists on the privilege of questioning and executing his killer.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eventually, although it’s possible he was this all along and it's only Corwin's perspective that's changed.
- Corwin learns that Julian suggested to Eric that Corwin have his eyes burnt out and be imprisoned as... a sideways way of protecting his life.
- Saving Corwin's life was more for Eric's benefit than Corwin's, according to Julian himself - otherwise, had Oberon had ever returned to reclaim the throne, having Corwin executed would have been Eric's only unpardonable act. Julian still qualifies for the trope in the above example, but from a slightly different angle.
- Corwin learns that Julian suggested to Eric that Corwin have his eyes burnt out and be imprisoned as... a sideways way of protecting his life.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Julian's not presented as a nice person. However, Corwin never claimed to be unbiased.
- The Stoic: Has an "almost legendary self-control". One of Corwin’s memorable past exploits involved shattering it, causing Julian to throw a glass of wine in his face and curse him.
- Walk into Mordor: The infinite roads to Amber all pass through the Forest of Arden, which is crawling with Julian's hounds, hawks and forest guardsmen.
Jurt of the House SawallOne of Merlin's half-brothers from the Chaos side of the family, who has a longstanding rivalry with Merlin. He has made many attempts on Merlin's life and schemes against him, which inevitably tend to fail.
- A God Am I: Falls into this error at the end of Sign of Chaos.
- Always Someone Better/Sibling Rivalry: Supposedly, he's driven to hate Merlin by this... but we only have Merlin's word for it.
- Ambition Is Evil
- Bash Brothers: Merlin travels through a dimension where he meets a younger copy of Jurt, and surprisingly enough the two become this, despite Merlin pointing out that logically a younger version of Jurt would only be more likely to blindly hate him than one who has possibly had time to grow up and mature. Towards the end of the 10th book, as more and more of the people ahead of them for the throne of Chaos are murdered, Jurt calls a truce in his feud with Merlin and the two fight on the same side.
- Cain and Abel: Like most of the others, but he's specifically murderous toward Merlin and seems indifferent to his brother Despil and half-brother Mandor.
- The Dragon: For Mask.
- Failure Is the Only Option: His plans against Merlin tend to be rather bad and to fall apart.
- Full-Frontal Assault: In the climactic battle of Sign of Chaos... wait, does it still count as Full-Frontal Assault if you're wearing an eyepatch?
- Heel–Face Turn: Played with. The suddenly high mortality rate among Chaos nobles makes him call off his vendetta with Merlin, but he states outright that he's not joining 'Merlin's side', just 'the winning side'.
- The Rival: One-sided: he seemingly lives to destroy Merlin, while Merlin thinks the whole business is a tedious nuisance.
- Shape Shifter: And he seems to have almost come to prefer a wolf's form to a man's.
Princess Llewella of RebmaDaughter of Oberon through an affair with Moins, the former Queen of Rebma, while Oberon was married to Clarissa.
- Atlantis: Comes from Rebma, an undersea "reflection" of Amber.
- Flat Character: She features far less than most of the other royals, and has proportionately less character development. Lampshaded by Corwin.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: As with Flora, she was commanding an archer corps in the fifth book.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Or rather, she's half of what passes for 'human' in Amber. Shades into Green-Skinned Space Babe.
- Never Accepted in His Hometown: She's a big wheel in Rebma, her mother's country. In Amber she's withdrawn and understandably suspicious.
- The Quiet One: She converses more readily with Merlin than she does with her siblings, but even then she's not talkative.
- Shrinking Violet: Apparently she holds a lot of authority in Rebma, but she only appears in Amber with reluctance.Whether her withdrawal involved animus, self-consciousness in her alienation, or simple caution, I could never be certain. Probably something of all of these.
- You Gotta Have Green Hair: It's a common hair color in Rebma.
LorraineA woman whom Corwin meets and befriends in one of the Shadows. As a Shadow human, she doesn't qualify for the tropes at the top of the page, aside from Functional Magic.
- Blessed with Suck: Has minor magic powers, which only provide her with more anguish and misfortune.
- Camp Follower
- Domestic Abuse: In her backstory.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: She's killed by a bad man with a very short life expectancy. See Corwin's Mook Horror Show entry.
- Psychic Powers: Limited, and serve only to make her life even more miserable.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Her life story can be summed up with the words From Bad to Worse.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Her general attitude towards her predictions. She’s right, in a way.
Mandor of House SawallA Lord of Chaos who was one of Merlin's tutors in the magical arts, Mandor is considered powerful and subtle even by the standards of the Courts. He is Merlin's stepbrother, as Mandor's father Gramble is married to Merlin's mother Dara. Ironically, Merlin gets along better with Mandor than with their shared half-brothers Jurt and Despil.
- Affably Evil: Although sinister and Machiavellian, Mandor is usually polite, and even capable of friendship. Just don't count on him allowing your friendship to get in his way.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: He and Dara (and, to a lesser extent, the Logrus) act as Merlin's final adversaries in book ten.
- Big Bad Friend
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: We find out at the end of the series that he actively tried to magically enslave Merlin, and when he found out it hadn't worked he attacked Merlin and tried to forcibly put the spells back. He accepts his defeat rather gracefully, though.
- Broken Pedestal: Merlin admires him and his abilities, particularly after Mandor is willing to go out of his way to be Merlin's ally on all sorts of quests. And he's part of a conspiracy to turn Merlin into a Puppet King.
- Graceful Loser: It might be part of a ploy, but when Merlin defeats his conspiracy and spares him, he makes a seemingly genuine offer to be Merlin's Honest Advisor.
- The Man Behind the Man: He prefers to remain behind the scenes.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Always fashionably dressed, rarely shaken by crisis, and never revealing his true motives.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Subverted.
- Wicked Cultured: Mandor is a master chef as well as a designer of custom realities. In entertaining, he always knows the best wine to go with each course.
Martin of Rebma; Prince Martin of AmberSon of Random through an affair with Princess Morganthe of Rebma.
- Aerith and Bob: The son of Morganthe, daughter of Moire.
- The Aloner: Self-imposed for a long time after he got stabbed by Brand.
- Apocalypse Maiden: Gender-flipped. It is his blood that damages reality, an event that took place off-stage in the first book but was not discovered until the fourth.
- Darker and Edgier: He drops out of sight for a few years, and when he returns for a brief visit to Amber he's got a punk hairstyle and some kind of cybernetic implant. This is strictly appearance-wise, though; he seems to be the same pleasant but gun-shy Martin on the inside.
- Disappeared Dad: Random abandoned his mother before he was born.
- Heroic Bastard: Martin was born of an affair that ended about as badly as they can, but seems to have become a straightforward, helpful man.
- Properly Paranoid: After his first experience with Trumps (and family politics), Martin opted to stay the hell away from his father's homeland.
- Unwitting Pawn: One day he received a random psychic contact, had a brief chat with his uncle, and got stabbed. He never did find out why, until the fourth book.
- Walking the Earth: Martin spends a lot of time adventuring in Shadow.
Mask: Julia BarnesA cryptic, masked sorcerer who - for reasons unknown to Merlin - keeps trying to kill him. And keeps sending him flowers. As a Shadow being, Mask isn't subject to most of the 'universal tropes' above - except for The Chessmaster and Functional Magic.
Merlin of House Sawall; Merle CoreySon of Corwin and Dara. Main protagonist and viewpoint character of the second five books.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: And will attempt to assassinate you on April 30th. Every April 30th.
- The Casanova: Merlin seems to be setting himself up for a Love Dodecahedron with Coral, Julia, Gilva, Rhanda, etc. as possible paramours. He generally doesn't say no to a willing woman, much like his father and grandfather.
- Disappeared Dad: Merlin was raised knowing his father was technically his enemy. Later becomes Disappeared Dad in a more literal sense, because nobody seems to know what happened to Corwin after the fifth book.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In Knight of Shadows, and it's not one of Merlin's brighter decisions.The Unicorn & the Serpent: We are not pleased by your attitude.Merlin: "Vice versa."
- First-Person Perspective: For the second five books.
- Incest Is Relative: His Love Interest, Coral, is also his half-aunt.
- My Beloved Smother: Dara has definite plans for Merlin, having had him for just such a reason, and doesn't mind using a few
dozenhundred political assassinations and mind control of her own son to have her plans come true. Also to a lesser extent, Merlin's aunts are very snoopy in his life, although they generally seem more benevolent.
- Parental Substitute: To his creation, Ghostwheel.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Merlin is normally quite low-key. But if you push him hard enough, you'll discover that under that calm, reasonable exterior is a talented sorcerer who's good at improvisation, can call on the two greatest sources of power in the known universe, can kick the ass of most beings even without magic, and as a last ditch option, can summon elemental chaos to utterly obliterate everyone and everything within the target area.
- Shape Shifter
- Weirdness Magnet: Starts shortly before he becomes the narrator in Trumps of Doom, and gets worse continuously for the next five books.
King Oberon, Lord of Amber; Ganelon)First King of Amber.
- The Ace: His most impressive deeds take place offstage, but he does casually display strength and magical abilities that baffle his children. Corwin also infers that Oberon's been interfering on the basis that nobody else could play everybody this well.
- Back from the Dead: Subverted. In the ninth book Merlin encounters "Oberon," only to learn that what he's seeing is a duplicate created by the Pattern from its last "recording" of Oberon.
- Badass Grandpa: Of Merlin.
- Becoming the Mask: To an extent. Actually inverted, as he says that his Ganelon-disguise was closer to his actual self than his official persona.
- Big Good: Well, okay, morally not very 'good'. But very powerful, and implacably devoted to Amber.
- The Casanova: Oberon seems to leave kids everywhere he goes, though considering how long he's lived, the actual number seems relatively small. He also seems to have trouble with the "forsaking all others" part of marriage. In the Merlin books, his ghost claims to have fathered forty-seven children (thanks in part to time proceeding more slowly in some Shadows than others). That doesn't sound like a lot when you've been alive for maybe tens of thousands of years, but of his children (who have probably at least as many years between them) only four have had children of their own that we know of, and in three of those cases magic might have been used to help things along. Corwin even muses that Oberon, and by extension the royal family of Amber, seems to have a low fertility rate relative to his libido.
- Combat Pragmatist: Hm, maybe it's genetic.
- God Was My Copilot: In disguise as Ganelon, he's copilot to Corwin.
- Half-Human Hybrid: If Dworkin is to be believed, Oberon is half-Unicorn. Admittedly, Dworkin is insane at the time he makes that statement.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The only course of action that will save Amber requires him to destroy himself. So he does.
- Refuge in Audacity: Widely considered a Magnificent Bastard - even by his children, many of whom qualify for that label themselves.
- The Reveal
- Shape Shifter
- Time Abyss: He's so old that, well, the calendars don't go back that far.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Many of the other characters would be a lot less screwed up if Oberon weren't such a terrible father.
Prince Random of AmberThe only son of Oberon by his sixth wife, Paulettenote . The second King of Amber.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: All the other siblings seem to treat him like that. For the last few centuries.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Although he begins to grow out of it.
- The Casanova: As his past adventures in Rebma indicate.
- Character Development
- The Chosen One: Appointed as the new King by the Unicorn in a rare personal (animal?) appearance.
- The Gambler
- Glorified Sperm Donor: Prior to his Character Development.
- Happily Married: Acquires this trope after marrying Vialle off-screen in Nine Princes in Amber. Crosses over with Love Redeems.
- Hero of Another Story
- Ladykiller in Love: With Vialle.
- Loveable Rogue
- Love Redeems: Although the order of it is a little odd.
- Papa Wolf: Random becomes this to Martin... once he realizes the son he's never seen was nearly murdered. One of the first signs of his Character Development.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: To everybody’s utmost surprise, including his own.
- Pint-Sized PowerhouseHe was a little guy, maybe five-six in height, weighing perhaps one thirty-five. But he sounded as if he were talking dead serious talk. I felt reasonably sure that he meant it when he said he'd take on two or three bruisers, singlehanded.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Becomes Corwin’s most trustworthy ally among the siblings.
- Youngest Child Wins
Prince Rinaldo of Kashfa: (Luke Raynard)Son of Brand and Jasra.
- Big Bad Friend: For books six through eight, until he renounces his vendetta.
- Disappeared Dad: Brand.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: In the Merlin books, comes across as much more well-adjusted, cunning, and likeable than the title character, and even manages (technically) to steal his love interest.
- Friendly Enemy
- Heel–Face Turn
- Muggle Best Friend: Subverted. He's not a Muggle and he's... well, sadly, maybe he is Merlin's best friend.
- My Beloved Smother: Rinaldo's mother employs him as a pawn.
- You Killed My Father: He eventually decides to be satisfied with the amount of revenge he's achieved to that point, so the trope is partially subverted.
The Serpent Which Manifests the Logrus
- Both Order and Chaos Are Dangerous: The Serpent is the Chaos side of this trope to the Unicorn's Order. The two almost solely focus on their ancient feud, and will callously use and throw away the lives of their followers.
- Church Of Evil: Played with. A faith dedicated to it exists in the Courts of Chaos, but even the High Priest seems to be a nonentity in the political arena.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Serpent is only concerned with its ancient contest with the Unicorn. It wants Amber and, later, Corwin's Pattern destroyed to reclaim its ancient supremacy over reality-as-we-know-it. The innumerable deaths that would result are utterly, utterly inconsequential.
- Living Shadow: Merlin is the only one to see the Serpent incarnate, and describes it as a slithering darkness, with the exception of its one luminous eye.
- The Man Behind the Man: It's revealed in the tenth book that Dara and Mandor are the Lords of Chaos it has employed in an attempt to regain its previous level of power.
- Serpentine Personification: It doesn't manifest as often as the Unicorn, but it can.
- Ambiguous Gender: "It" and "its" are used. Possibly later subverted... if Dworkin's claim that the Unicorn is Oberon's mother can be trusted.
- Big Good: Played straight in the first series; toyed with in the second.
- Both Order and Chaos Are Dangerous: The Unicorn is the Order side of this trope to the Serpent's Order. The two almost solely focus on their ancient feud, and will callously use and throw away the lives of their followers.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Averted. The later books reveal that there is a religion based around the Unicorn, but the royal family seem to regard it as a respected totem creature rather than actually worshiping it.
- Mythic Beast Personification: Although what exactly it personifies is open to debate (maybe Order).