Sarah Jane's Reviews > Bearing an Hourglass

Bearing an Hourglass by Piers Anthony
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's review
Feb 13, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: mythology, fiction
Read in July, 2009

Despite my indifference (and at times annoyance) with On a Pale Horse, I went ahead and plowed through Bearing an Hourglass. I won't rant at length about this one, but suffice it to say that I'm equally unimpressed. I'll reiterate, for the sake of those I know who swear by this series, that I probably would have enjoyed it when I was younger (read: less discerning). Piers Anthony's writing is just...well...not great. I think this series suffers from a flaw I've found in many fantasy books: when an author attempts to apply too many powers and too many limits to power simultaneously, it's very hard to prevent contradictions and loopholes in the story.

For anyone that isn't familiar with the series, it's seven books long and each book focuses on a particular "incarnation of immortality." They are the incarnations of Death, Time, Fate, Nature, War, Evil, and Good. The general basis of the series, as near as I can tell, is Satan attempting to gain power and the other earthly incarnations (meaning those other than God) attempting to prevent Satan's rise to power. Pretty straight forward.

The plots of the first two books have been interesting, although I found many drawbacks. Most notably, as I said before, the writing is just so-so. Anthony is very redundant. Dialogue is mediocre. For example, characters tend to say exactly what they're going to do and what they think. To give you an idea of what I mean, a moment in the book might go something like this:

Zane saw the girl falling from the roof. "Oh gosh! She's falling! I should save her. Don't panic. What can I do? Maybe I should catch her. Yeah. I'll catch her. I should move under her." Zane moved forward to catch the girl. "Look, I caught you!"

Obviously, that's an exaggeration, but not by much. Needless to say, after 300 pages, it gets a bit old.

Many parts of the book are contradictory, too. Others just don't make sense. For example, people moving backwards in time don't usually say, "emit ni drawkcab gnivom m'I." They say, "time in backward moving I'm." Although, sometimes they do the latter. It's not consistent. Also, some people moving backward in time are aware of said movement, but can't do anything about it (that's acceptable) but other people can. In general, I just find things like that frustrating.

Finally, both On a Pale Horse and Bearing an Hourglass had deus ex machina endings. Super lame.

Basically, my opinion is the same as before: if you're ever stuck in an airport and your flight is delayed for eight hours and one of these books is available, go ahead and check it out. They're not awful. They're just not that great.
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Daddy I disagree with you on what the plot was about, the book was about him learning to use his new powers, and the others (not just Satan), trying to use him for thier own purposes. Of course I liked the books.

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