Thursday, March 18, 2010

On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony

On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony, Del Rey, 1983

I began to develop a sense of a déjà vu as I read through On a Pale Horse.

The story takes place in an alternate version of the United States where Satan is in the midst of an agressive ad campaign to convince humanity that Hell is a desirable place to be because it is much more permissible than heaven.

In this alternate reality, magic is commonplace with white (good) magic and black (evil) magic being practiced and sold regularly.

The story's protagonist, Zane, is down on his luck and decides to shoot himself in the head after he loses the love of his life (as predicted by a lovestone) in a underhanded deal with a magic stone dealer. Just before Zane pulls the trigger, Death appears and startles Zane, causing the suicidal, soon-to-be hero, to shoot Death instead.

Death dies because he was negligent and not wearing his bullet-proof hood, and in this world, that means Zane must become the new Death.

The rest of the book deals with Zane's experiences in his newly appointed role. His main responsibility is taking balanced souls (those with an equal amount of good and evil) to their respective destinations (Heaven, Hell or Purgatory).

In the process, Zane uncovers a sinister plot laid down by Satan (can you imagine Satan hatching an evil plan?!) and sets about trying to thwart it with the help of other Incarnats (Chronos, War, Nature, Fate, Death).

It's at this point that I realized the book reminded me of the Spawn comic book series; so much so, that I wonder if this series was the comic's inspiration.

There are a total of five books in the Incarnations of Immortality series, and I can't wait to start the next one.
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