Patrick's Reviews > For Love of Evil

For Love of Evil by Piers Anthony
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Nov 15, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: book-series, reviewed
Read from September 16 to 18, 2011 — I own a copy

Originally, the Incarnations of Immortality series was meant to end at Being a Green Mother when Satan is finally defeated by his love for Orb. This was an ending that I found very dramatic, even if in a corny way. After reading that, I thought it was an excellent conclusion. But it wasn’t the end. Piers Anthony continued his series with two more books detailing the most important offices: Good and Evil. Thus, For Love of Evil and And Eternity were born.

For Love of Evil is one of the best books in Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, if not the best. Up until this one, the books have all been very engaging, though following a similar format. Every time, a new person takes up the Incarnation office and gets tricked by Satan somehow. However, this one is totally different, it is about Satan himself.

Sympathy for the Devil is often a difficult thing to achieve. It’s pretty controversial and the Devil, Satan, Lucifer, or whatever you want to call him has long been a landmark villain in the history of literature. Of course, he’s been the main antagonist of the series for quite a while, but every good villain deserves a good backstory. Nobody is just pure evil from the get go. The story of how Parry gets into the office of Satan is quite an intriguing one.

Like every other Incarnation, the story starts off of Parry’s mortality. He is a successful musician who, quite ironically, becomes a priest. He lives his life battling off the forces of evil. Through blessings, prayers and magic, he becomes the leading force in the crusade for good and is on a never-ending quest to stop evil. Ironic, huh?

Similar to other books in the series, a love interest is the main conflict here. Like I’ve said before, Piers Anthony’s love scenes aren’t exactly too convincing. But then again, neither is Romeo and Juliet or any other love scene from any form of media that I’ve come across. Parry’s love interest here is Jolie who is killed but still accompanies him as a ghost.

I won’t give the details of his full corruption, but it is quite an intriguing one indeed. For most incarnations, the transition from mortality to office wasn’t too shocking. However, a priest being turned to Satan is something to be surprised at. I believe that Piers Anthony does a pretty good job of his corruption. When putting myself in that situation, it seems very likely to fall for such temptation. I felt that overall; his transition was a lot more dramatic than the other Incarnations.

For Love of Evil does what nearly every other book in the series did; it tried to intertwine its own story with the rest of the series. However, For Love of Evil probably does a better job of doing this than any other book in the series because it traces back the entire series. It begins far before any of the other characters (Zane, Niobe, Orb, etc.) have ever lived because Parry was alive during the Crusades while the other characters live in the distant future. It chronicles many of the major events from Parry’s point of view such as his taunting of Niobe, Lilith’s seduction of Mym and his love affair with Orb.

(minor spoilers ahead)

Ever thought “This person’s not really mean, he’s just misunderstood”? This book attends to that phrase better than any I’ve read. Imagine that just by holding the office of Satan; people would automatically assume you’re evil! (Well, of course it’d happen, but it’s never right to judge.) Of course, Parry wasn’t truly evil. He’d just kicked Lucifer out of the throne and unknowingly assumed the position. Unsure of how to find a spell that would dominate the demons; he approaches the other Incarnations in good faith. However, they assume he’s evil and proceed to ignore, insult and humiliate him. Geez, can you blame the guy for being evil?

Many of the evil things he does are mostly out of trying to get revenge on the other Incarnations. For example, the Black Plague was caused out of his desire to get revenge on Nature and Death. Even so, he did spare certain areas from the Plague out of sympathy for the people. I guess he’s not all that bad is he?

He even befriends JVHV a lesser Incarnation of a Jewish god. Yup that’s right. He befriends God. (Didn’t see that one coming eh?) He also tricks one of the Incarnations into stopping the Holocaust in order to please JVHV. His reason for being evil? There needs to be order in the world. Someone needs to tempt people in order to determine whether or not they are truly good or evil. That way, God and Satan and find out if they truly belong in Heaven or Hell.

The main flaw about Piers Anthony’s story is the same as the rest of the series. He does at times seem to be a bit sexist or juvenile. Yes, he does enjoy referencing female bosoms from time to time, which does get old. However, the sex scenes do, to an extent, play an important role in the story and are pretty important. Unlike previous books in the series, (Wielding a Red Sword) Anthony seems to keep a decent filter on how much sexual content is present in the book. Lilith’s corruption is very sexual, but for good reason of course.

The story of Parry’s journey from a mortal priest to becoming the Incarnation of Evil is a truly unique one full of drama and despair. It certainly sheds a different light on a character that we’d never expected to have compassion for. However, it’s always good to humanize the villain because villains in fiction should never be two-dimensional generic bad guys. Parry’s motives can be called evil but to do so may be unfair. The series has always had a knack for playing around with the definition of good and evil, but it’s done most prominently here. Whether or not Parry should truly be called evil or just merely someone doing his job is up to the discretion of the reader. The life of the Incarnation of Evil certainly isn’t an easy one, and Parry’s extensive tale of love, betrayal and loss is truly a fascinating one. So all in all, don’t be surprised if this book makes you consider sympathy for the Devil, I mean Parry.

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09/17/2011 page 202
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