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Book Title: On a Pale Horse|
The author of the book: Piers Anthony
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 629 KB
Edition: Del Rey Ballantine
Date of issue: October 1st 1983
ISBN 13: 9780345309242
Read full description of the books On a Pale Horse:
4.0 stars. Piers Anthony is a MIND-NUMBING ENIGMA to me. He is capable of writing extremely thought-provoking, imaginative stories that are both original and speak to fundamental aspects of the human condition. The mystery is that he does so infrequently, despite being one of the most prolific authors in the speculative fiction. Wait....on second thought, maybe that is the answer. Quantity of production slamming right into the proverbial nuts of quality.
Well this first novel in the Incarnations of Immortality series is certainly one that resides in the relatively exclusive group of high quality Piers Anthony books. Along with Macroscope (which I need to re-read soon), it is my favorite of his novels and I found myself impressed by both the general concept of the story as well as his execution of it.
The Incarnations series is founded on the premise that humans assume the roles of 5 of the 7 major supernatural offices called "Incarnations" (i.e., Death, War, Fate, Time and Nature). The other 2 Incarnations, Good and Evil, are permanently held by the Big G and the man downstairs who are engaged in a perpetual fight for the souls of all mankind. All of this takes place in a world similar (though advanced) to ours, except that both science and magic exist side by side (e.g., flying cars and flying carpets, organ transplants and healing elixirs).
As you can guess based on the title, this first book in the series focuses on the Incarnation of Death...DUH!! Zane is a lonely, suicidal man who, while contemplating taking his own life, accidentally kills Death (I know, ironical). Zane is then tasked with assuming the role of Death. I know this may sound cheesy, but it is actually handled pretty well in the story and has some very humorous moments.
Death's role is to send the souls of the deceased to either heaven or hell (or purgatory) depending on the balance between the good and evil present in the soul at the time of death. (QUICK NOTE: yep...turns out a person's religion has NOTHING to do with it and heaven or hell is solely (no pun intended) a matter of doing more good than harm during your life.). Kinda comforting isn't it.
Anyway, good deeds are extremely light. In fact, they are lighter than air and actually float. On the otehr hand, evil deeds have substantial weight and weigh a soul down. So a good person's soul will float up towards heaven whereas a bad person’s will....you get the idea. Finally, when a soul is in extremely fine balance between good and evil, Death is the final arbiter of the soul’s final destination.
That's about all you need for set up. The rest of this very interesting novel involves Zane learning about how the universe is run and coming into conflict with Satan over the soul of a particular person. It seems their is an ancient prophecy that says that this individual will foil Satan’s plans for the world, so naturally ole horn head wants the person dead. In addition to being very entertaining, there are some very neat discussions about the nature of good and evil.
This is Piers Anthony at his best. Taking a “big picture” concept and making an entertaining yet thoughtful examination of it in the context of a terrific story. I have read the next two books in this series and while not as good as this one, they are generally entertaining with “flashes of brilliance.”
Read information about the authorThough he spent the first four years of his life in England, Piers never returned to live in his country of birth after moving to Spain and immigrated to America at age six. After graduating with a B.A. from Goddard College, he married one of his fellow students and and spent fifteen years in an assortment of professions before he began writing fiction full-time.
Piers is a self-proclaimed environmentalist and lives on a tree farm in Florida with his wife. They have two grown daughters.
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