Kissing Fools or “Love in Amber”

For love of a girl, the kingdom could have been lost. Some basic musings on love in the Amber multiverse.

“Oh, innocent victims of Cupid,

Remember this terse little verse;

To let a fool kiss you is stupid,

to let a kiss fool you is even worse.”

E.Y. Harburg

For love of a girl, the kingdom was nearly lost. That’s one of the ways to interpret Corwin’s seduction by Dara, or even Lintra’s seduction of Benedict. While I’d gladly send people over to Nine Ladies Dancing to discuss how sexist a view it is to paint women as “da bad guys” [in the words of Fozzy The Bear] {heh} let’s talk a little bit about love in Amber.


Parental love is a concept that the ADRPG plays up with the idea that Oberon really didn’t love his children, more suggesting that he controlled them, and in fact, was likely to kill their lovers and break up any familial connections if they interfered with his desires (or, if working together, they constituted a threat.) Aloof, perhaps more Unicorn than man, maybe even unable to do more than give his blessing in the end.

I think he loved his children and was able to give that blessing after spending that time with Corwin, seeing that they weren’t all fratricides or dangerous incest (thanks Julian!) waiting to happen. That there was nobility in them, despite the deeds (however inspired by his royal majesty himself) that occurred. Of course, I used the “for love of a girl,” concept in my Patterns Repeat Themselves: Lightning tale, however twisted the suggestion.

What about the Queens? Clarissa’s love of her redheaded cabaltrio may have been their reason to hang together, rather than separately. Did Faiella’s love strengthen Corwin for the struggle ahead, and did her absence draw him (however unusually) to Deirdre? Did Dybele love Florimel, or see her as a rival for Oberon’s attentions? Did Benedict do all he could for Mother? Or was his refusal to aid her the way his brothers what becomes his “Mark of Doom”?

Love of friends is treated as it usually is. Lord Rein and Bill Roth are “manly pats on the back, maybe hugs” kinds of friends. Corwin does not oath any form of long-term commitment to them, but he does give them gifts, and accepts their service as his due. Retainers, maybe. Does Corwin actually have any friends?

Romantic love is treated differently. Was there pain in Benedict’s voice when he talked of his failure to move more swiftly against Lintra? Was it more a “fool me once” pain, a matter of dignity, or of competing strategies, or did he care for her? We know Benedict cared for his servants enough to go after his brother at their death, or is the Master of War left stranded and alone on the battlefield of Love?

Random didn’t love Morganthe. That denial brings him pain, not in her death, but in the possibility of losing his son. Is that love for Martin, or a matter of control? Is this Random’s weakness? At the same time, can you see Random trying to control Vialle? He doesn’t protect her – he leaves her alone with the potential traitor Rinaldo. He thinks she’s safe with Corwin, the brutal fellow who should have taken Random’s gift of death to a guy who cut them off. (Real Road Rage Gone Regal!) Do we have a love match here, or is there something more sinister?

Dara…ah, yes, Dara. Here’s tough love-’em-and-leave-’em Corwin, composing ballads upon Moire’s green-curled love muffin (note: that may not be the canon terminology) only to leave her without a “TTFN” from the Pattern she guarded, having regular boffing with Lorraine in false Avalon, and then wandering across this freckled midlife-crisis and falling hard. Or did he just examine his feelings when he found out his roll in the hay came up with a young Chaosian wizard trained to hate him?

And Deirdre? Posing, teasing Deirdre, manipulating Corwin maybe a little more than a little sister should. (Not that Florimel didn’t play the coquette once or twice, herself. Maybe that’s just a variant on the Family Game.) Did Corwin love her? Or was it an obsession? Did he find analogues of her (was Lorraine one?) throughout Shadow?

Did the love he felt change him? Lorraine gave him shame. Deirdre gave him her namesake: sorrow.

Dara, I think, gave him a strange kind of hope.

If I were to work with love in a campaign, I couldn’t ask for better. Shame, sorrow, and the odd piece of hope. All interesting, personal conflicts, and all worth investigating.

Your thoughts?

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