Jan 30, 2008

[Books] Being a Green Mother (Incarnations of Immortality - Book 5)

Being a Green Mother (Incarnations of Immortality - Book 5)Well, it seems I'm pretty much committed to finishing the rest of the Incarnations of Immortality before moving on to any other book series. While I won't quite admit to being hooked or addicted, but I am pretty intent on seeing the end of the path and understanding the greater pattern that Piers Anthony has set up to connect all 8 books, of which I already have the first seven.

Being a Green Mother (Incarnations of Immortality, Book Five) was a very different book as compared to the first four on so many different levels, even I was surprised at how things developed. This is definitely one of my favorite books in the series so far and I can only hope to do the work justice in this review.

It was the title of the book that first got me thinking - the previous four books were more or less about the tools or aids that helped the other Incarnations perform their duties - Death's Pale Horse, Time's Hourglass, Fate's Skein (albeit a Tangled one) and War's Red Sword. However this book wasn't about something they acquired in order to assume their new office but simply referred to Being that Incarnation.

The next bit came in the form of the structure of the novel itself. While each story starts with the Incarnation in their previous lives before they take on the office, more and more this book seemed to be stuck in that mode as we follow Orb, the daughter of Fate (Niobe) as she continues her quest in search of the Llano - a fabled song that held great power in its singing. We first met her and her "twin" sister Luna back in Fate's novel and again encountered her during the travels of War in his book. This time around, she took the spotlight, so as a reader you assume she will take on the mantle of Nature and you go through the first few chapters waiting for this to happen.

Unlike all other books where you're sure to get to the main character's life as an Incarnation soon enough, you'll find yourself more than halfway through before it even becomes a distinct possibility. That's the beauty of this book at the same time - the story of Orb is quite compelling even outside the realm of the Incarnations (although they make a generous number of appearances throughout the story) and amongst the lives of those they've affected. While this book still stands independently of the others, the experience will certainly be enriched if you've read the four previous titles. It's that kind of book within a series that tempts you to go back and re-read all the prior books just to refresh your memory of the old characters they keep reintroducing into the story.

Once you get to the end, then you'll really be in for a surprise - several in fact if I'm counting correctly. Maybe I was just being too simplistic in how I followed the story but I think I'm smart enough to realize plot implications when I encounter them and despite my own projections of where the story was going, I was still baffled in the end.

My kudos really go out to Piers Anthony for this title, a true masterpiece of planning and careful plot development not just in this book but across all titles within the series. He clearly had a master design in mind that was not linear in its progression and worked very hard to keep the titles in line throughout the writing of the series. While Being a Green Mother may not be the end of the series, but it's the kind of highlight that really strikes you and makes you take pause for a moment and just ponder how one man could come up with all this on his own.

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