On a Pale Horse

Piers Anthony
On a Pale Horse Cover

On a Pale Horse


I first read this series when I was in college (the first time), so that would have been in the early 90's say around 93-97, or so, and I absorbed this series reading all 5 books our library had. I remember the series seemed to be of less quality as I went along, but I must have enjoyed them because I read all the books I had access to at the time. Someone recently suggested I read them, and to be perfectly frank I had forgotten I had already read the series until this person brought up the name. I thought "This is the perfect novel for the "Read it again, Sam" challenge. I have been burned by some of the novels I have reread. Why is our memories of novels so much better than the actual novels themselves so often?

I'm happy to report that this novel at least, has stood the test of time for me. I just loved the idea of the Incarnations being an office instead of a person. Each new office holder brings their own beliefs and morals to the party. This book is of course about The office of Death. At the beginning of the novel the office of Death is taken over by Zane, an unambitious young man who in a moment of youthful self-centeredness decides to kill himself, but at the last minute, when Death has literally come to collect his soul, Zane changes his mind and shoots Death, and thus becomes the new death. Think "The Santa Claus" but with a gun instead of a ladder.

Zane begins to learn his job with the help of his trusty Steed/Car Mortis, and through this we are introduced to the other Incarnations; Fate, Time, War, Nature, and Satan. God does not actually make an appearance, but he is much discussed.

I enjoyed almost the entire novel. There was this weird section about the different types of thinking using match sticks that seemed awkward and poorly written, slowing down the novel at a bad moment, but I just skimmed over that section and was none the worst for it.

I think I will eventually read the rest of the series and maybe try to get the last two books in the set. I never read these novels about Satan and God, maybe it is time finished the series.