Chapter 6: In the land of Avernus, Bleys and Corwin take advantage of local religion to raise an army of Shadow men against Eric. Despite the size of the army, it won't be enough to depose Eric, so Corwin raises more from a world of rat-like me. Even with a quarter million troops, he feels it won't be enough. Corwin then uses his Trumps to convince Caine and Gerard to be negligent enough in their duties to Eric for an army to slip past their patrols.
On the night of departure, Corwin tries to contact the remaining members of his family. He contacts Brand, who begs deliverance from a hellish prison, but the connection is severed before Corwin can react. Corwin then tries his father Oberon's card. Oberon is still living, but is in an area of Shadow that masks his signal. Through the faint connection, the former Lord of Amber gives Corwin his blessing.
The next day, Corwin leads the navies to Amber while Bleys marches upon the city. The dying soon begins, from storm and ambush. Eric bleeds away the army and fleet through a thousand small cuts. Through the Trumps, Random tells Corwin to turn back since Eric can control the weather through the Jewel of Judgement. However, Eric is about to assume the throne, so Corwin presses on. In the waters near Amber, Caine's fleet meets Corwin's. Told to surrender, Corwin stalls, attempting to trade his fleet's safety for the chance at a duel with Eric. Eric refuses to duel, leaving Corwin with no other chance but a desperate fight. Finally, as his fleet is reduced to one last ship and twelve crewmen, Corwin surrenders his navy. But before Caine can take him captive, Corwin uses the Trumps to escape to Bleys's camp.
Corwin leads his navies on a forlorn hope to gain a foothold in Amber, with the expectation that Bleys will relieve his sailors with the armies, if either can survive Eric's defenses. In an attempt to even the odds and save some Shadowmen lives, he attempts to cut deals with the members of his family not directly involved in the succession. The mysteries of Brand's captivity and Oberon's exile will drive the plot of the Corwin cycle, the first five books of the Chronicles of Amber. Unfortunately, neither Brand or Oberon can influence Corwin's cause, which, at the end of the naval battle, appears lost.
The men of the Shadows might lack the Substance of the residents of Amber, but Corwin regrets their loss more than the fratricides he is planning. Where Corwin (de)values his brothers and sisters of Substance based on utility, the less real Shadowmen have a marginal level of innate value to their lives that affects Corwin's conscience. He will still spend their lives to gain the throne of Amber, however, as the city itself is the only thing he truly values.
Avernus is a volcanic lake considered to be the doorway to the underworld. Many of the Shadows featured by name in Amber have mythological connections. The realm of Avalon will appear once again in our reading in the next book, The Guns of Avalon, with visible mythological links to the Matters of Britain and France.
The cosmology of the Amber series is similar to that of Nethereal's. The source of all reality is the Earth of Amber. As a person leaves the city, he steps into Shadow, which grows thicker and darker until the realm of Chaos is reached. The city of Amber occupies a similar place to Nethereal's White Well, which is the source of prana for its universe. As a person leaves the White Well, he descends through various Strata, each with a progressively diminishing level of prana, until, at the very end, he reaches the Void. In both the Chronicles of Amber and Netheral, the lords of Light and Chaotic Void clash. However, while Amber gives the perspective of the "gods" of Light and Void, Nethereal's story belongs to the beings in the shadowy middle realms.