Jan 24, 2008

[Books] On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality - Book 1)

On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality - Book 1)My partner was the one who introduced me to Piers Anthony first through the world of Xanth then eventually through this epic series, The Incarnations of Immortality. In this series, human beings are allowed to take on the roles of various personifications of cosmic forces in a world that is an odd mix of science and magic.

On a Pale Horse is the first book in the series and it follows a man called Zane, who eventually takes on the mantle of the Incarnation of Death.

This first book is an interesting way to get into the series with a figure that a lot of us have encountered in one way or another in other media. Death seems to be something fairly easy to want to personify and Anthony was pretty smart in selecting him as the very first Incarnation to write about.

Initially the story felt a bit slow and the writing a bit simplistic, as is Anthony's style for the most part given how he's handled the world of Xanth. However, once the story starts to take its course and more and more about alternate realities of the Incarnations comes into play, things get more than interesting.

It seems that Piers Anthony put a lot of effort into making the story both complex in terms of plot but somewhat simple in terms of level of writing, an interesting twist, in my opinion. Deceptively, it makes it seem like the story is easy enough to read through however upon second and third readings, there are more insights to be gained and other layers to the overall plot that you're bound to miss the first time around.

The true beauty of the stories of the Incarnations lies in the fact that all books are intricately intertwined yet manage to stand independently of one another as needed. And yet as you go through each book, there is a limited sense of progress through time as more and more interconnections are made and earlier parts of entire series need to be reviewed in order to make better sense of things.

On it's own, Own a Pale Horse is a pretty strong book but not the best in the entire series. It's main function is to introduce the reader into the realm of the Incarnations and generally how things work as they struggle against Satan, the Incarnation of Evil. Some of the explanations for things may seem a bit convoluted and confusing, but then again this is the beginning of the entire series so things become much clearer the further you progress into the story.

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