Jan 26, 2008

[Books] Wielding a Red Sword (Incarnations of Immortality - Book 4)

Wielding a Red Sword (Incarnations of Immortality - Book 4)Okay, I know I've been posting a number of reviews for the Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony. In case you're wondering why, it's mainly because I finally got around to reading Wielding a Red Sword, the fourth book in the series. I figured that since I was eventually going to post a review for it, it was only fair to post my reviews for the previous three books, which I had read some time back before the Geeky Guide came to be.

I just finished the book earlier today and I'm not overly enthused about it. Still, it was an interesting read all the same.

Wielding a Red Sword follows the adventures of Mym, a prince born with a pretty severe stutter who becomes the Incarnation of War. It's a somewhat ironic role for him given his situation, but then as is the theme in these books it's mainly because of Satan who seems to be trying to force the Incarnations to change persons, thus forcing a new Incarnation into the office at a critical time essential to Satan's plans.

For the four books that I've read thus far, this is the novel I liked the least. It's not a bad book, mind you, but compared to the others it just didn't seem as striking. I suppose it didn't help that the characterization of Mars in this novel seemed different as compared to how he was characterized in the previous books as being rather haughty and confident. This time around he was more deliberate and there were significant attempts on his part to reduce the amount of conflict due to his aversion to it instead of managing effectively. This could be explained by the fact that this was his first time in the role, but still it all seemed a bit off.

Also, as much as I appreciate interaction with the other Incarnations, I felt that this book had the most need for the lead Incarnation of the book (in this case Mars) to call on the aid of the other Incarnations. I could be wrong, but that's how it came across to me, like Mars always needed to have another character to play off in order to remain interesting.

His primary artifact of office, the Red Sword, wasn't all that impressive either. While I had no major assumptions in terms of what I thought it would be capable of, I still found it rather disappointing to find there were no real nuances to the weapon as compared to the vestments of Death or the hourglass of Time, both fairly complicated items in terms of usage. The Red Sword was just something Mars used to focus his will and pretty much felt like something to make wishes on.

I think the story was pretty solid and how he dealt with his final challenge from Satan was pretty good too but the characterization was what killed it for me. I suppose I wanted a stronger Mars, not one who was overly introspective and too sensitive about his stutter.

Now I'm torn between taking a break from this series or going on to the fifth book to explore the history of the Incarnation of Nature.

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