When I was a wide-eyed teenage World’s Strongest Librarian, Piers Anthony was one of my very favorite authors, and there was nothing better than his Incarnations of Immortality series. He also was writing the Xanth books that I was in love with, but Incarnations set my feverish little brain on fire.
Imagine: there are offices for the occupations of Death, War, Nature, Time, Fate, Good, and Evil. Now imagine that the beings performing these duties are suddenly taken out of the action and have to be replaced by normal humans. That, in a nutshell, is the incarnations series.
One of my favorite parts of every superhero story, whether it’s in comic, movie, or novel form, is when the transformation happens and the protagonist has to learn how to use their powers. I love the scenes were they have to experiment and learn their new duties.
That is essentially the first half of every Incarnations of Immortality book. It is great fun to watch someone trying to figure out how to go about their job as the new Thanatos, or Death. How do I harvest souls? What do I drive? What am I supposed to do with this sickle? Am I allowed to intervene?
The second half or so of each book concerns the plot of the book and generally advances the overall story arc of the series. What I mean by that is that by midway the hero knows what they have to do and the real meat of the story gets underway.
Here, in order, are the books in the series. I have read all but the eighth, and from other reviews I have read, I do not think I have any interest in it.
- On A Pale Horse (Death)
- Bearing An Hourglass (Time)
- With A Tangled Skein (Fate)
- Wielding A Red Sword (War-this one was my favorite)
- Being A Green Mother (Nature)
- For Love of Evil (Evil/Devil)
- And Eternity (Good/God)
- Under A Velvet Cloak –I can’t tell who this one is about.
I have the feeling that, subjected to my legendary, incandescent critical skills, these books would not be quite as glorious if I read them today. So I won’t, and I’ll keep my memories pure. I’ll look back fondly at these ridiculous little paperbacks and know that they were awesome. Forever!