On the topic of Gerard and Flora, I want to mention a few other things.
First, obviously, I’m part of the group who likes to believe there’s more there than meets the eye. Now Corwin does acknowledge Llewella had depths that were untested. That isn’t really acknowledged with Gerard or Flora.
A few reasons spring to mind.
First, they’re just simple characters. Gerard is big and dumb. Flora is pretty and dumb. Neither necessarily needs depth. The curtains are blue because the other curtains are inscribed with sacred symbols.
Two, Corwin’s biases were showing. Corwin didn’t like G or F, so he ignored them.
Three, Zelazny made a mistake.
Now this is possible, because it covers one of the great unresolved plot holes of Amber. Not only did some random dude, Ganelon, beat Gerard in a straight fight, but no one asked questions about it. Everyone thought, Oh, the strongest man in the universe just got his butt kicked by an old alcoholic from shadow. Must be Tuesday.
And no one questioned. Benedict watched and just let it slide.
Now, there are some extenuating circumstances, and people were off their game. But come on.
The best response is to overlook it or do some handwaving. It’s like why no one took a shotgun to Voldemort. There might be some in-world explanation that is never revealed.
To establish a consistent headcanon, some unknown in-world explanation is required, and that’s fun. But creating that kind of hidden backstory is the equivalent of giving Gerard and Flora complex motivations, completely unencumbered from the actual story. It is fun. The simplest hidden backstory, and by that I mean some bit of plot that explains what’s going on that’s never directly mentioned in the books, is that the entire family of Amber had a moment of collective stupidity. That does happen. If we open to the door to that, then it’s a very short step to ‘Corwin never noticed Gerard and Flora are smarter than he thought because he had an ongoing moment of personal stupidity.’ This also happens, and the only thing we really have to sacrifice is the notion that Amberites are superior to humanity in all ways.
The Amber DRPG leans into super Amberites really hard. I find that nonsensical. Corwin takes out Benedict through unreliable footing. You think game-Benedict would let that happen? Heck no. You think game-Benedict could be taken out by a sucker punch after falling to unreliable footing? Nope. But it’s OS canon.
Nor do I think there’s any foundation for super-smart Amberites. Like, seriously, if Corwin was super smart, why didn’t he just go to therapy until he resolved his Daddy issues? Why didn’t any of them? Mistakes were made.
If Corwin thought he was fine psychologically, he might very well think he was just so much smarter than G and F that they were beneath consideration. Especially if, as my headcanon dictates, Flora played him like a violin and admitting Gerard was smarter than Gerard appeared would weaken Corwin’s insecurity-based sense of superiority. And it’s not like other people didn’t suspect Corwin had issues. Wasn’t it Ganelon who implied Corwin might have a hidden death wish when they were guarding the Pattern of Tir-na Nog’th. Ganelon/Oberon wouldn’t see Corwin’s daddy issues as a problem. If Oberon didn’t inflict them intentionally, him not minding them would be a small hop.
But Oberon might well see Gerard as being smarter than he appeared, as Gerard did get stuck at home as the Lord of Amber.
It’s a bit more complicated to read ellaborate motivations into Flora because she stays out of things. Somehow she always winds up on the winning side, and somehow she spends most of her time in casual oppulence. She plays a slightly larger role in Merlin’s Chronicles, but I really don’t like her character in those. I tend to ignore it. Still, she is competent.
But Occam’s favorite solution is she’s pretty and dumb, and he’s big and dumb.
There’s a fourth issue, a lemma to point 1, and I think this is somewhat more likely. G and F were written simply to make the characters with hidden depths special. Fiona is hot and dumb at first blush, and that is way wrong. Caine comes across as an utter jackass without two brain-cells to rub together, and he’s atleast got three. They’re special, but a character can’t be special without a comparison. By writing two bland people, the apparently bland but actually surprisingly complex characters are more special. I’ve never liked Caine much, and his little dealy-oh didn’t make me like him more. I change my opinion of Fiona pretty regularly. If I was going to burn that bridge, I’d ship Fiona and Corwin.
I don’t really like him either, honestly. But I do find Corwin and Fiona both very interesting.
Anyway, I can’t write romance for beans, and I want a new motorcycle. There is no connection between these points.