Roger Zelazny’s The Dawn of Amber: Book 1, by John Gregory Betancourt

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Without hesitation I unbuckled my swordbelt and slid into the seat across from her, balancing my weapon across my knees. My fellow passenger was strikingly beautiful, I found, with long dark hair and a wide, almost familiar face. Thin nose, full lips, strong chin––

The first of the prequels to the late great Roger Zelazny's Amber series, published in 2002 but I only got around to it as part of a Humble Bundle a few years back. I had been warned that the prequels were terrible; actually while the first book is not superb, it's not awful either. Our viewpoint character is Oberon, future father of the Nine Princes of Amber, who is pulled from a career as mercenary (his girlfriend killed off before we even meet her properly) by his mysterious father Dworkin, for magical dynastic plotting with his brothers and sisters. It's a bit flat, compared with the heights of the original, but I'll persevere with the series. You can get it here.

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