Isaac Helgram

D.Psy, MD


At some angles, he looks like a college sophomore with an intellectualism beyound his years.  At other angles, he looks like a middle-aged man with a youthful exuberance.  Because of his extensive periods of study in different shadows, his true age is a matter of rough estimate.

His usual expression is genial but with an air of smug curiosity, as if he was constantly thinking “How novel!  How exciting!  I should have this mastered quickly.”

He was thought to be the son of Fiona Barimen and an unnamed Helgram. It was later revealed that his father was the controversial Gaius

Isaac seems to have been a happy and well-adjusted child, although of course Fiona made sure he had every advantage available to adjust to.  There is no indication that Isaac missed a father figure, or that Fiona sought to provide one.  However, consider that the most prominent males in her life were Brand, Bleys, Oberon and Dworkin.  It is a matter of speculation what, and how much, she truly expected from her male child.  She seems to have been pleased with the results, however.
Fiona either hoped or expected her son to be an accomplished scholar, and his formative years were spent in enriched academic environments.   Isaac matriculated in a fine preparatory school, a parallel to Eton or Exeter.  As an Amberite, he was able to do well in physical activities but was never of athletic temperament. His sports were fencing and rugby, which seems an anomaly for him. Either that incogruity was itself an attraction, or he was on some level preparing for a political career in Amber.
He also participated in the local version of the Scouts.  This seems less incongruous as the tracking and survival skills may have been seen as potentially valuable in areas where civilization or technology was unavailable. He acquired a respectable number of badges but formed no lasting friendships.
Adjectives used to describe him are “uncannily intelligent,” “cooperative and involved,” and “smug.”  These labels seem to be consistent throughout his development.

At some point in his adolescence, he decided that the most interesting course of study was the mind itself: how facts were known, how opinions were formed, how memories were created and recalled.  Until he was old enough to travel unsupervised, he voraciously read any book he could find on the topic.  Even Fiona’s detractors admit she has a fabulous library.

Isaac’s studies followed an idiosyncratic pattern. He would select a high-caliber institution where, following most countries on E1, there was no “pre-med” major but a student graduated with an bachelor’s degree and then pursued advanced studies leading to a post-graduate degree (MD).  He favored periods corresponding to 1850-1950 on E1.  In at least two occasions, he began his studies shortly after a world  war so he could see the effects of trauma and brain damage.
Upon settling in as a student, he would acquire a young kitten as a pet. This kitten would be well cared for, but as soon as it died Isaac would begin getting his affairs in order and preparing to move on.  The cat was apparently bought deliberately to be a timer for his stay in any one place.  There is no sign he tried to find the same kitten each time.  Having a cat seems to have been something he did as a traveling student.  Living in Amber, he has not acquired a cat, perhaps in deference to Fiona and her parrots.
Isaac’s various trainings focused on psychiatry and neurology, but he would make forays into neurosurgery, pharmacology, and anesthesiology.  He was seen as studious and accomplished, and polished if not completely personable. One comment was “the nicest, smartest, man I ever wanted to throw into the lake.”  As before, he was an active participant during his stay but never looked back after leaving. There was justified concern that his curiosity and intellectual pride drove him over and above care for patients.  However, he always sought out the toughest patient population available and was always conscientious, resourceful and effective for them.
It is estimated that Isaac went through this education cycle about ten times, possibly twenty.  It should be noted that at no time did he learn more than basic clinical skills regarding other organs. He can serve competently as a battlefield medic or a general practitioner, but never pursued any specialized medicine not connected to the brain.
His social patterns also developed in distinctive ways.  He would gravitate to salons where the prominent and accomplished met to discuss the affairs ot the day and the affairs ot their set, and otherwise educate, amuse or edify each other.  Although he was democratic when selecting and caring for patients, and professionally was an unabashed believer in meritocracy, outside his profession he was an utter snob.
It is not clear if or  how extensively he exploited the abilities inherited from his parentage, or how much he preferred to use mundane social skills to encourage or discourage attention from others.  However, Isaac usually saw anywhere from one to three women socially, with no pretension on either side that a permanent relationship was either sought or wanted.  Evidence of the trait some have called Isaac’s “telepathological” side appeared occasionally when individuals in his social set suddenly began acting as if their libido was at its highest and their inhibitions at their lowest. This was usually ascribed to drink or recreational pharmaceuticals, even if the individual had only been mildly partaking at the time.

Among the many degrees he has earned, the only two he uses routinely are “Doctor of Psychology” and “Medical Doctor.”  Within psychology, he has studied among a variety of practitioners, and picks ideas from each as he considers the treatment of each patient.


 It is not clear exactly when Isaac learned sorcery but it was probably shortly after he made plans to settle in Amber.  There were no signs of him attempting to learn these skills out in Shadow and many accomplished sorcerors and potential teachers might have sought to use Isaac for leverage on Fiona, who herself was more than capable of tutoring him anyway.
Upon arriving in Amber, his simple ambition was to create an ideal sanitorium for the care and treatment of patients suffering from any of the diverse traumas or psychic damage that could be brought on by any of the wars and intrigues Amber is known for.  Fiona herself seems aloof from military, economic or political considerations, and Isaac is generally inclined to the same attitude. Friendships with Geran, Jericho and Lucius, a growing taste for adventure, and facing a number of threats have made Isaac more willing to become personally involved in conflicts and acquire useful resources.
His only certain loyalty appears to be to his mother.  He initially claimed and developed the Shadow of Lambeth as a home, without thinking of any military or economic uses.  Given that Lambeth is a Shadow of the Realm and given his high degree of control, it is likely Fiona helped him cultivate Lambeth. Although Lambeth is now home to a minor power, named Neolympus, Isaac has made or clear that his Squiggle serves the Pattern the way the local constabulary serve the Throne.


Isaac currently lives in a house loosely based on Ascott House in Buckinhamshire, although not quite as extensive.  The architecture has shifted a little during his stay which may reflect either use of magic or his control over Lambeth.  The house now doubles as living quarters and seat of government.

The house is well sound-proofed and warded, Isaac probably taking advice from his mother on how to ensure privacy, so speculation of what goes  on in there has to be based largely on the known habits of Amberites in  general and Isaac in particular.  The inhabitants themselves are cordial if usually circumspect.  Based on conversational tidbits, and normal comings and goings, we  know the following.

The bottom floor has a largish dining room, enough for perhaps 30 people,which is also used as a meeting room by Isaac and his Cabinet;  a library full of books Isaac doesn’t mind lending out (primarily histories and other fiction), a meeting room, and a kitchen with extensive pantry.

The second floor has a dozen bedrooms, and two private studies. One study belongs to Isaac and the other to Hillary.  They share the master bedroom.

Hillary is currently roughly 30 years old.  How Isaac was able to arrange her rejuvenation when Matthew apparently could not (or would not) may be explained by Isaac’s non-medical skills.  It is believed that Isaac was able to modify the Replicate Shadow spell to recreate her at an arbitrary age and physical condition, and then use his own developed psychic abilities to transfer her psyche into the new body.  If so, then Isaac must have disposed of her original body somewhere in Lambeth, perhaps accelerating decomposition.  Any remaining forensic evidence might still be useful.

Hillary appears to have joined Isaac willingly but with his skills and abilities that may be a deceit on his part.  Like the other members of his Cabinet, Hillary does act and speak autonomously and has no qualms about contradicting Isaac.  Hillary defers to him apparently voluntarily, while the members of the Cabinet, who were formerly simultaneous subject matter experts and live art objects in his library, are known to at least partially be compelled, either former Lynxists who Isaac helped capture or women whose loyalties would be expected to lie elsewhere.  However, Isaac seems to have no doubts about their current loyalty to him or Lambeth.   Among them, the most forbmidable  may be O-Ren Ishii. former Yakuza boss and now Trade Minister; Susan Ivanova reportedly from a high-tech Shadow, Minister of Security; and Cleopatra, the former  empress now Minister of Foreign Affairs.  The weakest link may be Opera Winifred, now Press Secretary.  The Ministers’ interaction with others outside the house is primarily focused on their assigned duties.





As an academic and a psychologist, Isaac Helgram was aware of the principle of unintended consequences  and how unexpected benefits and perverse drawbacks could impact individuals and groups.  He found that the principle showed up in many varied forms in papers, in discussions, and even in treatment of patients.
When it happened to him, though, he hated it.
At the moment, the distinguished scholar of the mind was seated behind his desk, aware of the primal instincts encouraging him to either duck under the desk or climb through a window.   Glaring at him were the hard-set but otherwise pleasant faces of four women he’d personally recruited to serve and advise him, whose loyalty he had ensured through all his skills, and who currently had him cornered.

“You are not getting out of this,” grumbled Hillary, the former PM of BNA and now of Lambeth.  Isaac had thought that her emotional attachment to him was a function of the manipulations he had used to gain advantage of her sharp mind.  It had recently sunk in on him that she knew how throroughly he could and would control her so it actually did not matter to her that he did.  Her interest in him was due to factors including his personal power and his willingness to give her a freer hand in Lambeth than she did under the naive and opinionated Matthew.
“You’ve been sloppy,” added O-Ren, possibly the most physically dangerous of the lot.  Isaac had recruited her in her prime, before she was overtaken by all the forces she challenged and defied as she took over a dangerous criminal cartel.  Isaac had put her in charge of Law Enforcement and Public Safety.
“You dont just get to throw us all in a chest and go home,” continued Susan.  She had been a decorated military officer in a technologically advanced world, where she not only maintained order on an artificial world populated by various races, but defended it against invaders and successfully pursued the invaders back to their homeworld.  Isaac had given her the Security mandate.  She was the best strategist of them all.
“You should have known Corwin would be chasing a fugitive through Lambeth.  You should have known who that fugitive was, why they were running, and where they were going,” finished Cleopatra, former monarch.  Isaac had offered her an alternative to suicide.  She was in charge of Foreign Affairs.  She wanted to be in charge of Isaac, but he knew his mind and hers too well for her to have a chance.
Isaac was in power here.  He could have made them all forget they had this argument.  He could have let them have the argument with an imagined Isaac sitting in the chair while he walked away, ignored.  But he could not walk away from the fact that they were all right.
On the other hand, they worked for him.  “All right, so how do we build up a spy service?”  With that simple question, Isaac broke the alliance against him.  Now all eyes were on Hillary, Isaac’s and the three women who wanted her position.  However, she was going to demonstrate she knew her job — and theirs.
“The Lambeth locals aren’t going to be much good for that,” Hillary replied, “because they’re your ideal neighbors.  Pleasant, easy-going and not terribly curious or suspicious.  Great if you’re a Prince of Amber who likes sitting quietly.  Also great if you’re a visitor who wants to move around without anyone looking closely or asking questions.   But for what you need, Isaac, the immigrants from Ultima Terra would be perfect.  They’re already inclined to be on their guard because of UT’s police state.  And they want to have real roots here, which means they’ll leap for an opportunity to protect this place *and* themselves.  That was why they were so eager and effective when you got them combining their limited magical resources to help with large-scale projects like moving earth and finding water.  This is another opportunity.  Between your abilities and their eyes, wards, familiars, crystal balls, what have you, you’ll have all sorts of tripwires, alarms and early warning signs in place.”
“You also have the Lynxists,” O-Ren pointed out, “who were running secret societies with some degree of success before you…recruited them.”  She smiled a big smugly at the pause, and Susan and Cleopatra chuckled darkly.  Isaac was never going to be allowed the illusion that all of his advisors had joined him willingly.  “And of course, I also know something about organizing cladestine activities.  I obviously can’t evade a sophisticated and intense psychic search, but I, Susan, Iolanthe and Nancy can certainly explain to your recruits what to look for.”
Unruffled by her name being omitted, Cleo said smoothly. “and I can help identify what sort of information the spies might be looking for.”
“We can do that,” said Hillary to Cleo, but for the benefit of all.    Not for the first time, Isaac began to rethink his policy against any deliberate tinkering with his advisors’ perspectives or attitudes.

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