Jess's Reviews > With a Tangled Skein

With a Tangled Skein by Piers Anthony
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's review
Dec 31, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: offensively-bad-books
Read in November, 2008

I picked up this book in part because I'd heard a lot of good things about Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series and in part because it revolved around one of my favourite mythological trios, the three Fates. On both counts I was disappointed.

Misogyny and racefail abound. The Fates, while ostensibly powerful and influential beings, are expected to fulfil 'traditional' female roles: Atropos, the Crone, must perform "grandmotherly functions", while Mother-archetype Lachesis does the household chores. And the Maiden, Clotho? Well, she's expected to sexually service male immortals when the need arises. Seriously.

The reasoning behind the latter is that sometimes male immortals get romantically involved with mortal women, which causes bad things to happen, and apparently the only way of dissuading them from continuing these relationships and causing Armageddon is to distract them with some immortal loving. Piers Anthony apparently thinks that all men are helpless in the face of their lusts and sexual urges, an argument which he has also used to justify some sickening rape apologism.

All female characters whiney, one-dimensional and atrociously stereotyped - overly emotional, irrational creatures who need the grounding presence of a strong male figure in their lives to function properly.

Particularly facepalm-inducing is the Japanese Clotho, who runs away from her strict family to avoid an arranged marriage; her notoriously fiery temper then leads her into a feud with a horrible caricature of an Asian martial artist (called, would you believe it, Samurai) who assumes upon meeting her that she's a geisha. And I paraphrase:

Him: "Sorry, I thought you were Japanese."
Her: "I am Japanese! But I am LIBERATED! I ran away from my family because I would not follow their medieval ways!"
Him: "But the medieval ways are good ways!"

(Apparently Piers Anthony thinks 1980s Japan = medieval.)

Her: "Whatever, sorry for attacking you."

So then there's this bullshit fight scene wherein Clotho realises she'll either have to kill Samurai or yield. But she's inexplicably fallen in love with him, oh noes!

Him: "Say what?"
Her: "I'm sorry, I wanted to be liberated, but your manliness has overcome me!"
Him: "Meh, liberation has its place when it is understood. Now, you were saying something about sexytiems?"

But even these two are surpassed in annoyingness by the lead character, Niobe; allegedly a sharp and resourceful woman, but consistently portrayed as whiney, irrational and unintelligent, needing the help of her husbands to solve the simplest of brain teasers. I particularly enjoyed her bargaining strategy when it came to rescuing her husband from death:

"Bring him back! I love him!"
"I can't."
"But I love him!"
"No, you don't understand, I really can't."
"But I love him!"
"You would have to die instead."
"But I love him!"
"Which would prevent a series of events needed to forestall the apocalypse."
"But I love him!"
"Seriously, it would basically tear apart the fabric of reality."

...and this is supposed to be the wily, clever woman who outwits Satan. Seriously.

(Satan? And don't even let me get started on that mess. He, too, reads like a caricature, tossing around pick-up lines that are so cheesy it hurts.)

There are some interesting concepts involved, but they're overshadowed by poor execution, lousy writing, irritating characters and grating sexism, rendering what would have been a middling sci-fi novel laughably bad.
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07/18/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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David Sarkies Piers Anthony certainly seems to be caught up up on sex. Your right about his female roles as well.

message 2: by Ann (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ann Alton I couldn't have said it better. I think I dislocated my eyes rolling them so much.

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