Did you know that the Showtime series Dead Like Me by Bryan Fuller was inspired by the book On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony? Me neither and I loved that show. It’s a good trivia to know, I guess. By the way, this book is the first of the Incarnations of Immortality series. It’s not a long series, but why not do a reading guide anyway?
What are the Incarnations of Immortality series about?
It’s an eight-book fantasy series by Piers Anthony. Mostly published between 1983 and 1990, the eighth book only came later (in 2007), the Incarnations of Immortality series transport us in a fictional reality and history parallel to ours where magic and modern technology help advanced society at the same time.
The story is about supernatural ‘offices’ and, more precisely, it’s the adventures of the ‘Incarnations’, humans who hold these positions. Each Incarnation goes from a mortal life to the office and can use them as they see fit. Those offices are Death, Time, Fate, War, Nature, Evil, and Good.
How to read the Incarnations of Immortality Books in Order?
Like other fantasy series, each book tells a self-contain story, but there are real connexions between the novels, mostly the exploration and development of the characters.
- On a Pale Horse – When Zane shot Death, he learned, too late, that he would have to assume his place, speeding over the world riding his pale horse, and ending the lives of others. Sooner than he would have thought possible, Zane found himself being drawn to Satan’s plot. Already the Prince of Evil was forging a trap in which Zane must act to destroy Luna, the woman he loved … unless he could discover the only way out…
- Bearing an Hourglass – When life seemed pointless to Norton, he accepted the position as the Incarnation of Time, even though it meant living backward from present to past. The other seemingly all-powerful incantations of Immortality made him feel welcome. Even Satan greeted him with gifts. But he soon discovered that the gifts were cunning traps and he had become enmeshed in a complex scheme of the Evil One to destroy all that was good…
- With a Tangled Skein – When the man Niobe loved was shot, she learned that she had been the target, in a devious plot of the Devil’s. Hoping for revenge, she discovered, too late, how intricate his scheming was, and that he had managed to trap her son and her granddaughter, Luna. Niobe’s only chance to save them was to accept a challenge by the Prince of Deceit – a challenge to be decided in Hell and in a maze of Satan’s devising!
- Wielding a Red Sword – Mym was a dutiful son, but rather than agree to his father’s choice for his marriage, he took up the Red Sword, symbol of office of the Incarnation of War, in order to ameliorate some of the suffering caused by the Earth’s constant petty wars. But Mym discovered that Satan was waiting to trap him, and he must now take desperate measures to outwit the evil genius who aimed to destroy the world…
- Being a Green Mother – Orb had a rare gift – the magic which manifested whenever she sang or played her harp. No one could resist her music. But she knew that greater magic lay in the Llano, the mystic music that controlled all things. The quest for the Llano occupied Orb’s life. Until she met Natasha, handsome and charming, and an even finer musician. But her mother Niobe came as an Aspect of Fire, with the news that Orb had been chosen for the role of Incarnation of Nature – The Green Mother. But she also warned of a prophecy that Orb was to marry Evil. Could she be sure that Natasha was not really Satan, the Master of Illusion, laying a trap for her…?
- For Love of Evil – Parry was a gifted musician and an apprentice in the arts of White Magic. But his life of sweet promise went disastrously awry following the sudden, violent death of his beloved Jolie. Led down the twisted path of wickedness and depravity by Lilah the harlot demoness, Parry thrived – first as a sorceror, then as a monk, and finally as a feared inquisitor. But it wasn’t until his mortal flame was extinguished that Parry found his true calling – as the Incarnation of Evil. And, at the gates of Hell, he prepared to wage war on the master himself – Lucifer, the dark lord – with dominion over the infernal realms the ultimate prize!
- And Eternity – After an overwhelming succession of tragedies, life has finally, mercifully ended for Orlene, once-mortal daughter of Gaea. Joined in Afterlife by Jolie – her protector and the sometime consort of Satan himself – together they seek out a third: Vita, a very contemporary mortal with troubles, attractions, and an unsettling moral code uniquely her own. An extraordinary triumvirate, they embark on a great quest to reawaken the Incarnation of Good in a world where evil reigns – facing challenges that will test the very fiber of their beings with trials as numerous, as mysterious, and as devastating as the Incarnations themselves.
- Under a Velvet Cloak – It is the year 500 AD. Kerena, a beautiful young girl living near King Arthur’s Camelot, is apprenticed to Morely the Seer. Morely teaches her fantastic magic, but when he mysteriously disappears, Kerena finds herself out on the street and must resort to prostitution to survive. Kerena prospers as a skilled courtesan until she is taken into service by Morgan le Fey, the sorceress sister of King Arthur. Kerena’s knowledge of magic grows as she is required to carry out nefarious deeds for the evil Lady Fey. One of her missions is to seduce Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table, to prevent him from locating the Holy Grail. But Gawain and Kerena fall in love and she conceives his child, a child she discovers is cursed to die an early death. Using her Seer abilities, Kerena tries to locate the fabled Incarnations of Immortality, seeking their aid in removing the taint from her baby. Rebuffed by all seven major Incarnations, Kerena vows revenge. But revenge against such mighty immortals would require an even greater power…
If you like Incarnations of Immortality, you may also want to see our Dragonriders of Pern reading order, or our guide to Terry Brooks’s Shannara series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.