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Thursday, October 27, 2016

On a Pale Horse by Pierce Anthony

On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, #1)On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  When Zane shoots Death, he has to take the job, speeding over the world riding Mortis, his pale horse/limo, measuring souls for the exact balance of Good and Evil, sending each to Heaven or Hell instead of Purgatory. The new Thanatos is superbly competent, ends pain when he ends lives. But Satan is forging a trap for Luna, the woman Death loves.

For October book group.

Ah, to re-read a favorite thirty years after it's publication. This might be a book that didn't quite stand up to the passing of time, but nevertheless, I still enjoyed it for nostalgia's sake.

It's kinda fascinating really; I LOVED this series when it first came out and devoured every book. I read them again later. And read them yet again. Now it's probably been 10 years? And outlook on life and awareness of the printed word has changed a bit.

  • This read a bit like Heinlein. How so? The pontificating on how things "should" be in society. 

  • This read a bit like Heinlein in Anthony's treatment and portrayal of women. I never noticed the shallowness before - women are judged solely on their looks: a turn of leg or a tress of hair, beauty is rewarded, homely is to be avoided and decried.
  • For women, 40 is considered "old". Just ask Fate, who was dressed in tweed and conservative clothes.
    > Comparing Mother Nature to a 'distaff dog'.
  • The concept of saving the damsel in distress.

    I could go on, but my point is made.

I am also aware that this is an exploration of death, and of our belief in Heaven and Hell. What I find with this current reading, it is very much a WASP point of view, or Christian point of view. At at time in the US when church attendance is at a low point, where more people are agnostic or apathetic than not, and many people just are worried about the status of their "souls", this bit just didn't hold up very well - in my humble opinion.

What makes this book still fascinating to read is the personification of the Incarnations - they are Mortal until they don the aspect of Death, Fate, War, Time, Nature. I enjoyed watching Death become his office, dealing with a elemental bureaucracy, where even the computers have attitude. I greatly enjoyed Mortis and his ability to transform according to need. The touch of 'tabloid' TV brought a nice sense of humor to the plot.

Ultimately, mixed on whether this has stood the test of time, but enjoyed it anyway for nostalgia's sake.

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