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I’m still reading the first book and what I don’t understand is how the shadows are created. Do they work like parallel universes, or are all of them created by the princes of Amber trying to get to a certain place, thus creating some number of permutations along the way?

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    Even in the books they don't know; they speculate, and there is a common debate as to if they simply find what they are looking for in a Multiverse of possibilities, or, if by looking, they are creating them. From a practical perspective, it doesn't matter, so they wonder, but don't really have any answers. Merlin creates a tool to index shadows, but the same question exists -- what exactly is it indexing -- all possibilities, or all possibilities that one of them has explored. – K-H-W Aug 10 '15 at 13:43
  • I see so I should just read on and not wait for a hard answer . thank you . – Uri Popov Aug 10 '15 at 13:49
  • "Do we make the Shadow worlds? Or are they there, independent of us, awaiting our footfalls? Or is there an unfairly excluded middle? Is it a matter of more or less, rather than either-or? A dry chuckle arose suddenly as I realized that I might never know the answer for certain. Yet," – David Banner Mar 5 '16 at 8:59
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Shadows are cast by the Pattern (emphasis mine):

...but of Shadow I have this to say: there is Shadow and there is Substance, and this is the root of all things. Of Substance, there is only Amber, the real city, upon the real Earth, which contains everything. Of Shadow, there is an infinitude of things. Every possibility exists somewhere as a Shadow of the real. Amber, by its very existence, has cast such in all directions. And what may one say of it beyond? Shadow extends from Amber to Chaos, and all things are possible within it.

(Page 77, The Chronicles of Amber)

Corwin says that "in a sense" the shadow walkers create them, but personally I think this is him being poetic rather than literal, given the cite above (and given Corwin's penchant for waxing poetical):

You may call them parallel worlds if you wish, alternate universes if you would, the products of a deranged mind if you care to. I call them shadows, as do all who possess the power to walk among them. We select a possibility and we walk until we reach it. So, in a sense, we create it. Let's leave it at that for now.

(Page 123, The Chronicles of Amber)

I think that "parallel universes cast by the pattern" is the truest answer, given:

what we learn about Corwin's pattern, the disruptions to reality it causes, and the null space between patternverses throughout Merlin's books. The role of the pattern(s) in being basic to reality as a foil to chaos supports the stance that the patterns are what "create" the multiple realities called Shadows.

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    Excellent answer, but I think you are underestimating Zelazny's love of ambiguity. He was deliberate in his ineffability. – docwebhead Jul 20 '17 at 2:20
  • From later on in Merlin books we also learn to think of Shadows differently,taking into account Chaos. But I don't want to spoil it. – Gnudiff Sep 12 '17 at 10:59

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