All of these novels have inspired my work in some important way.
Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber
“Amber is the one true realm, casting infinite shadows of itself.” Only the royal family of Amber have the innate talent to navigate the shadow realms of Amber, of which Earth is one such shadow. At the beginning of Nine Princes in Amber, the first book in the series, Corwin wakes in a hospital with no memory of his identity. As he learns that he’s a prince of the royal family of Amber, so also is he pulled back into his brothers’ and sisters’ perpetual treacherous vies for their father’s abandoned throne.
Corwin moves from one near-catastrophe to another, each one often devised by a different family member, but his wit and his wry, cynical view make all of his misadventures—and indeed, this series as a whole—a joy to read.
The patterning described in my series is nothing like the pattern the royal family of Amber must walk in order to manipulate the shadow realms of Amber, yet Zelazny’s novels did provide a spark of inspiration for my own realm of Alorin, where “all things are formed of patterns.”
Anne McCaffrey’s The Rowan
The Rowan is a beautiful blending of science fiction and fantasy. The story follows The Rowan’s life from a traumatic disaster on a far colonized planet through her training as a telepathic and telekinetic adept with a powerful gift. Adepts such as The Rowan form the foundation of space travel in McCaffrey’s tale, which is part adventure, part coming of age, and part love-story. Ultimately, in trying to save her true love, The Rowan births a gift that may be the key to saving all of humanity.
The way McCaffrey described The Rowan made an indelible impression on me. The Rowan provided the early inspiration for the Healer Alyneri in my series.
C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy
This is one of those series that never really loses that popularity wave. But in case you missed hearing about it the last time it crested, the Coldfire Trilogy, starting with Black Sun Rising, is a must.
Gerald Tarrant is one of the most memorable anti-heroes ever written. More admirable still when you realize Friedman wrote him long before Mark Lawrence made the villainous blackguard interesting. In Gerald Tarrant, Friedman presents a man of cold arrogance and bold evil—and makes you fall in love with him, hook, line and sinker.
The artful way she crafted Tarrant inspired me to explore virtue and vice in my own story’s cast of personalities. Some of my more alarmingly compelling characters have Gerald Tarrant as their distant grandsire.