historical notations: recorded history
It is said that perhaps the accounts written by the King are somewhat biased, but indeed, as far as history knows, they are accurate, right up until the day that the evil King Eric died in battle against his brother and Corwin stepped up and took the crown of Amber for his own.
The origins of the kingdom of Amber are lost in a haze of legend. The oldest records tell of a small city on the slopes of Kolvir. Led by a powerful and charismatic king named Oberon, this small city grew and grew. And so did the legend of the Royal House of Amber.
Amber was already a reknowned kingdom when Oberon finally married a woman from one of the loosely allied territories around Amber (known today as the Golden Circle). Her name was Cymnea, and she became Amber's first queen, and the mother of Benedict, Osric and Finndo.
But the life of the royal family was far from serene. It soon became apparent that Oberon had a habit of ranging beyond his marriage, a fact that became known throughout the kingdom. Outwardly, Cymnea bore the shame of her husband's philandering with a quiet dignity, but behind closed doors, theirs became a bitter relationship. And then came the greatest insult to the queen - a woman appeared with a babe in arms, claiming her newborn son, Eric, was fathered by Oberon.
There was no public acknowledgement of the ensuing feud between king and queen, but some of the castle staff told of the vicious battles that followed in their family memoirs. But the rift did become acknowledged when Oberon dissolved his marriage to Cymnea and shortly thereafter, married the woman who claimed her child was his son. Her name was Faiella.
Little is known of how Cymnea's children felt about the dishonor visited upon their mother, but when one looks at the events that followed it can be seen that there was little love lost between Oberon and his eldest sons. Osric, though aquited for his role in the deaths of three sons of a noble house, was soon sent to the front lines in a short-lived war between Amber and one of the fledgling Golden Circle territories. It was portrayed as an honorable assignment, but any honor bestowed was posthumous, as Osric did not live beyond his first battle in that war. And Finndo, who decried his father's decision, also found himself sent out on service to the Crown, from which he never returned. Only Benedict survived, most assume because he stayed as far away from his father as he could manage.
Young Eric soon had a brother, Corwin. Only a few years apart, the two competed for their father's favor, which Oberon usually granted only to set them at odds. Born between Oberon's marriages, Eric found himself in an awkward position, for Oberon never legitimized him as his son. And then Faiella died, giving birth to Oberon's first (known) daughter, Dierdre.
Some were surprised, but Oberon doted on his new daughter. And as Dierdre grew, she became a new pawn in Eric and Corwin's plans to gain Oberon's favor. But it is said they met their match in their sister, who used them as coldly as they used her. But the three were forced to some cooperation when Oberon married Clarissa.
In Clarissa, it is said that Oberon met his match. A woman who wore the mantle of power as if it were no more burdensome than a cloak, Clarissa, who would be Amber last queen (until Corwin's wife Caer), left a lasting mark on the crown. She gave Oberon three children: Fiona, Bleys, and later Brand, though he was never recognized, as his birth resulted from a short-lived reconciliation after Oberon divorced Clarissa.
Publicly, Oberon divorced Clarissa, but it was commonly known that she left him after another one of his extramarital dalliences resulted in a daughter, Lewella (who he legitimized after Brand was born, to spite Clarissa - and unintentionally or not, his son Eric).
After Clarissa, Oberon never married again, but a series of women were prominent in his life. First there was Dybele, the mother of Flora. Then Rilga, mother of Julian, Gerard and Caine. And last, Random was born to Paulette (who later killed herself, some say in grief over Oberon's philandering).
After Paulette, Oberon had no publicly acknowledged lovers. And he found himself with a very unruly brood, who, over the years, became even more unruly when Oberon refused to name any one of them as his heir. There are many stories (some of legendary proportion) of the squabbling among the siblings, but none became the stuff of history until the fateful fight between Eric and Corwin.
There are conflicting accounts as to the substance of the quarrel, but it is assumed it involved their long competition for Oberon's favor. And what precipitated the fight is not as important to history as its outcome. Both went into Forest Arden. Only Eric came back out.
When, years later, Corwin had not returned, many thought his exile had become permanent. He was assumed dead. For all those years, Oberon had said nothing to Eric about his brother's disappearance, but it was recorded in the letters of a castle servant that one night, during a family dinner, Oberon pointedly reminded Eric that Corwin was a legitimate son, and that if Oberon were to ever choose between the two, it would be his acknowledged son.
Years passed. Oberon's children came and went, intent on their own plans and plots. Amber continued to grow, in size and power. There were some rumbling from the Golden Circle (and was long rumored that the Faery who were driven deep into Arden by Amber's expansion still held a grudge), but none dared defy the great King.
And then he disappeared.
Suddenly, the sibling squabbles took on a deadly serious tone. Bleys and Eric were most vocally at odds over what to do, and Bleys soon left Amber. It was then that Eric seized the throne and proclaimed himself king.
It was an uneasy time in Amber. The nobles, nervous at the sudden change in leadership, wondered what it would bring. None were fond of Eric, who had all his father's ambitions, but little of Oberon's charisma. And when Brand disappeared, some began to wonder.
For nine years, Eric held the throne. There was no open dissention to his reign from either the nobles or those of his siblings who remained in Amber, but all were restless under his rule. There are few specific incidents that anyone can point to, but all felt that there was an edge of darkness to Eric. Oberon had been a hard (and often cruel) man, but he was just. It was not a trait his son shared with him.
And then Corwin came back with his brother Bleys at his side, and an army at his back. It was a valiant effort, but Amber's forces were too much for the invading army. Bleys fell from the mountain during the attack, and was never seen again. And Corwin was taken prisoner by his brother, and imprisioned in the bowels of his own home.
Not long after that battle, Eric crowned himself king. The varied accounts of that coronation all speak with horror of Eric's cruelty, when in punishment for the attack, he had Corwin's eyes burned out, so that his brother's last sight would be of Eric as the rightful king of Amber.
The next four years saw a dark cloud fall over Amber. Again, there was little that could be pointed to, but all felt a strain under Eric's rule. Many said it was his gloating arrogance in his defeat of Corwin, who had always been liked amongst the nobles. But suddenly, Eric's mood took a turn for the worse. Though it was never officially confirmed, a rumor soon spread that Corwin had escaped.
Nothing was heard about the imprisioned prince, but for that first year following, all walked softly around the king. But all of this was forgotten as a surprise threat from outside, from the far distant kingdom of Chaos, as a vile road of darkness and evil carved its way into Amber.
It was while Eric was distracted with this Chaosian attack that Corwin made his own bid for the Crown. He defeated Eric, finally, and Eric was killed.
And thus Corwin became king of Amber.
last updated 3/3/99
return to the forest