Shadows of Amber, by John Betancourt

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Two hundred yards away, I paused and looked over my shoulder. At that moment, branches and tree trunks burst outward into splinters. Something large and black and nearly shapeless moved half behind the cover of the forest, half in the open. Rounded black limbs reached a hundred feet into the sky. More limbs stretched from the forest at ground level, toward me. At their touch, bushes and trees lost their leaves, turned gray, and collapsed in puffs of dust. Grass withered and died. The stream froze. Even as far away as I now stood, I felt a sharp coldness radiating from its darkly massive body.

Fourth and, praise be to God, final of the prequels to Roger Zelazny’s classic Amber series. It’s noticeably shorter than the other three, as if the writer had simply given up. Understandable if so. I read it several days before writing this and can’t now remember anything about it. You can get it here.

This was the SF book that had lingered longest unread on my shelves. Next on that pile is Death Draws Five, edited by George R.R. Martin.