I started rereading this because of a pretty negative review at tor.com
. And then I realized that rereading the whole series would get me mega-karma in a reading challenge at Goodreads.com, so I'm off...
I've always loved the Amber novels, and I've read this more than a few times. Tim Callahan at Tor had some good points — it does finish rather abruptly, but he complains "That’s a complete novel according to the standards of 1970?", and the problem is that that's exactly what a complete SF/Fantasy novel was like in 1970. Publishers considered word count, and if your book was twice the word count they wanted, you got it published as two books if you got it published at all. In this case, it was published as five…. Yes, it has no real female characters. Like pretty much any other SFF writing of the time (including some considered "feminist" — I'm thinking LeGuin).
But for all its faults, [book:Nine Princes in Amber] is thoroughly engaging. Corwin is a bastard (well, not in the legal sense, which is probably important), but he's a better man than any of his brothers, and we get the sense that he's improving. Sure, he can sacrifice a million people to unseat his brother from the throne of Amber — but if you look at it from his point of view, it's hard to see that anything's lost, as he can go right back into Shadow and find those same people again, and in any case, there's a feeling that it really is worth the cost. The thing that makes Corwin a better person than his brothers is that he even considers the cost.