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Incarnations of Immortality #2

Bearing an Hourglass

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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 Incarnations of Immortality—Death, Fate, War, and Nature—made him 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.

In the end, armed only with the Hourglass, Norton was forced to confront the immense power of Satan directly. And though Satan banished him to Hell, he was resolved to fight on.

372 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 12, 1984

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About the author

Piers Anthony

388 books3,924 followers
Though he spent the first four years of his life in England, Piers never returned to live in his country of birth after moving to Spain and immigrated to America at age six. After graduating with a B.A. from Goddard College, he married one of his fellow students and and spent fifteen years in an assortment of professions before he began writing fiction full-time.

Piers is a self-proclaimed environmentalist and lives on a tree farm in Florida with his wife. They have two grown daughters.

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7,440 (32%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 518 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,854 reviews16.4k followers
May 12, 2016
The second in Piers Anthony incantations of immortality series, this was as imaginative as On a Pale Horse, maybe even more thought went into the story, but it seemed bogged down by the time travel eccentricities.

I have since found that most time travel stories fall quickly into complicated storytelling but this one was especially convoluted. It could be that Anthony was ambitious in his design, but I think the story would have been improved by a more linear approach.

Profile Image for David Staniforth.
Author 8 books226 followers
May 29, 2017
Well here's I book I read around thirty years ago and, upon joining Goodreads some years back, awarded in retrospect a five star rating. Having just reread it, I can't justify those five stars and now feel it is more like a 3.5. Obviously the book has not changed, but I have, and thinking about how we react to a text in these circumstances has proved to be a rather interesting exercise. I am more educated as a reader than I was back then and, as such, am more aware of glaring faults in the narrative that would previously have gone unnoticed. The tale is a complex one, as one would expect any story about time to be, but the author makes it unnecessarily complicated and is then forced into a need for over explanation, pushing the style towards much telling rather than showing. I also found some of the dialogue clunky and unrealistic, as that too tried to shoehorn further explanation. For example, Chronos meets a different incarnation for the first time and this incarnation says, "of course you live backwards while I live forwards." Both characters already know this fact, so it is only there to remind the reader, despite already having been established several tens of times. There are also several chunks of chapter-long text that I had to skip, because as a more informed reader, I just found them to be unnecessary, laboured, and boring.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
17 reviews6 followers
September 19, 2011
As a fan of the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres, I felt an obligation to like Piers Anthony's novels. I have tried time and time again with this book, Wielding a Red Sword, Isle of Woman, and the Xanth series. In every book, I keep coming back to feeling like I'm reading a dirty old man's wildest fantasy.

Xanth is the most lighthearted and easiest to read of the Anthony books I've read. At least I'm not as offended at the shallowness of the characters as I am in Anthony's other books.

Isle of Woman really upset me. As an Anthropologist, I was looking forward to reading a novel about characters set in the early days of human civilization, but it quickly devolved into a caveman sex-romp. No, that wasn't as interesting as it sounds.

But this book, oh wow. This was all I could stand. Every female character was introduced from the standpoint of her sexual appeal and there was not a single brain between them all. Bare-bosomed, giggling, freshly-bathed, soap-slippery, sex-starved, brainless bimbos were all over this book. I got physically very angry at the countless descriptions of Orlene and her decolletage and Clotho's lithe suppleness.

Speaking of Clotho, why was it that Norton was only in love with the Clotho aspect of fate? If he were truly in love with the woman who was all three aspects, shouldn't he be equally as pleased with Lachysis? Especially since Lachysis was probably much closer to Norton's own age. This is about as stereotypically shallow as possible.

In a word: Disgusting. In two words: Absolutely abysmal.

Finally, this book is an intellectual vacuum. I got this one from the library in order to entertain myself while on the treadmill. This book actually made me dread working out EVEN MORE than I already did.

I no longer feel obligated to like Piers Anthony. I'm far too offended by this book to ever think about reading another one of this old man's sexual fantasies. I felt the need to shower all the filth off of me after reading this book, but then I thought about how much that would have pleased Anthony and I decided against it.

Yuck, Yuck, YUCK!!! :P

Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.9k followers
July 1, 2010
3.5 stars. A good sequel to the excellent On a Pale Horse. I love the premise of this series and I thought the first book was original, well written and a lot of fun. This book, while not up to the level of the first is still pretty good and I will certainly read more of the series at some point.
Profile Image for Sarabeth.
42 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2012
I read this book in Middle School and thought it was amazing. I just had the chance to re-read this and found myself asking, "What was I thinking?!"

Norton's story was interesting at first, but then somehow the story goes to hell! He ends up in a space western, then randomly in a fantasy thread, all of which take pages and pages that just seem like filler. There is no relation between these "adventures" and the main plot line of the story. When the plot DOES decide to make an appearance, it proceeds agonizingly slowly. Have you ever seen shows/books where people stand around and TALK about the scheme rather than just IMPLEMENTING IT? That's what we have here. Most of the book is Anthony entertaining strange ideas about time paradoxes that belong in a physics textbook, not a story. He doesn't even bother making everything tie in together. In other places there are logic questions that are clearly Anthony showing the readers how intelligent he thinks he is.

However, the most egregious sin of this book was its objectification of women. Every single women sounded the same- big breasted, thin, nice rump, shining hair, etc. "These kinds" of women were the ones Norton found attractive. Others were characterized as stout or heavy-set, the worse case being when the author describes Lyla as having "flab" on her chin and thighs and Norton's reaction of disgust. Truly, it seems that Anthony's ideas of beauty and what women should look like are as flawed as his plot. Why not just take Barbie and replace her hair color, then you'd have each "heroine" in this absurd book. The only way I survived this novel was by skimming most of it. The Author's Note is also incredibly pompous, with Piers Anthony claiming he doesn't allow for writers block and considers those who have it to be lazy and 'not really there to work.' I salute his efforts to make his process transparent to fans, but in the end he just comes across even more full of himself.

Profile Image for Melissa.
1,067 reviews72 followers
October 28, 2018
I have to admit I skimmed some of this one....how can the same author who has such great creativity in some of the larger story plots about the fight between incarnations and good and evil, ALSO have some decidedly ugh side plots filled with inner and outer dialogues than make me feel well icky.

Guess it’s safe to say I’m really conflicted with this series so far. 🤷‍♀️
Profile Image for Matt Guion.
34 reviews47 followers
August 23, 2013
Book two in the Incarnations of Immortality series is about the Incarnation of Time. Now, if you know me, you know that I love stories about time and time travel. My favorite book is The Time Traveler’s Wife, my favorite movie is Back to the Future. This storytelling idea holds a great deal of fascination for me. Bearing an Hourglass features the Incarnation of Time, someone who can travel to any point in time, can bend time to his will, and who freaking lives backwards. This should be a book of endless fascination, one of my favorites in the whole series.

This book bored the ever-loving snot out of me.

Even as a kid, when I first read these books, this one was my least favorite. 1, 6, and 7 were favorite, I liked 3 and 5, 4 was okay, and 2 I read because it was part of the series and I felt like I had to. Many series suffer from what I like to call “Second Book Syndrome,” where the first book sets expectations so high that the second book is just a complete disappointment, either because the first book was just too good, or because after achieving the publishing success he needed with the first book, the author doesn’t feel the need to try as hard on the second book. And I’ll admit that the expectations set by On a Pale Horse do factor into my opinion of Bearing an Hourglass.

On a Pale Horse used the personification of Death to give us a deep, multi-faceted, and unique look at the concept of death and dying, helping us see it in ways that we, perhaps, hadn’t considered before. Anthony’s intentions at the time, stated pretty early on, was to do a book for each of the five incarnations (Death, Time, Fate, War, and Nature), so my expectation was that this would be another idea-driven book like the first one, this one exploring the nature of time, the perceived passage of time, cause and effect, and many of the other things that are usually pretty deeply explored in time travel stories like The Time Traveler’s Wife and Back to the Future. Unfortunately, the only things that were really explored were the technical details of how the hourglass--Time’s magical artifact which allowed him to travel--worked, which were mind-numbingly boring, and the fact that Time, or Chronos, lives backwards, which Anthony tried to explain so often and so thoroughly that not only did it leave nothing to the imagination, but it ended up making the idea way more confusing than it needed to be. In short, rather than exploring time from a philosophical perspective, Anthony just explained and explained and explained and (my God, shut up already!) EXPLAINED! how time worked in his own particular universe.

In lieu of an idea-driven story, I would have settled for a character-driven one. Those I will always accept. But if Anthony’s writing has one weakness (and it doesn’t. It has several. But this is one of them) it’s his characterization. He has one male protagonist and one female protagonist that he writes about constantly. Yeah, he’ll change the names and appearances (kind of) and maybe add a few personality quirks, but that’s all they: quirks. Fundamentally, they’re the same. And Norton, the man who becomes the Incarnation of Time, is no different. He’s bland, boring, and absolutely forgettable as a character. Yeah, he has this tragic romance at the beginning that he has to come to terms with, but even that’s just glanced over, just this little side story that doesn’t really go anywhere. None of the characters left any impression on me whatsoever. Even the office of Time itself is uninteresting, which is really something coming from me. The first book gave us quite a bit of detail on what exactly the Incarnation of Death does, how he does it, and why it’s important. But even after reading this book at least twice, I have no idea why the Incarnation of Time is even needed or what exactly he does, aside from travel through time and sleep with Fate.

Finally, given what an interesting story Anthony set up in the first novel with the war between God and Satan, and given that this story is taking place twenty years after the first, when some major blow is supposed to be struck against Satan, I would have been perfectly fine with a purely plot-driven story. But even though I can tell that Norton defeated Satan and won the day, it really feels like absolutely nothing was accomplished. So little happens in this story, because when it comes right down to, there IS NO PLOT. There are a bunch of little subplots, but absolutely no main plot. There are whole chapters in this book that contain nothing but pure distraction, offering only minimal connection to the story. In fact, the story in this book offers only minimal connection to the overall story of the series. There is no reason why you can’t completely skip this book. You would lose nothing in the overall story.

I really feel like this was a book that Piers Anthony felt obligated to write, but he had no idea what to do with it. I think this really illustrates that Anthony’s strength lies in fantasy, not science fiction. The sci-fi elements he does have in here are either poorly explained or overexplained . . . or in many cases, both. There is nothing driving this book, not ideas, not characters, not plot, and it really shows. I’m willing to admit that my expectations were set pretty high by the first book, but it really feels like Anthony wasn’t even trying on this one. It’s just a bad book, plain and simple.

Worth rating: Worthless
109 reviews
January 1, 2009
2.5 stars really. Unsatisfying ending. Sections are standalone short stories with the main character, but unrelated to overall plot in every but the vaguest sense. These sections are bad sci-fi, extremely shallow and fun. The meat of the book is mediocre. Overall a forgettable book. The shining light are several 30 page stretches of shallow fun. This being the second book of his I've read, I now am saddened by the thought that adolescents (and please not adults) would become introspective by Piers Anthony's implicit statements on the human condition. I hope that doesn't sound uppity, but he's really not good for that purpose. I heard that this is the low point of the series, so I'll continue on.
Profile Image for Sarah Jane Wood.
142 reviews7 followers
February 17, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Juan Valera.
39 reviews11 followers
July 30, 2015
Time is a complicated concept. Humans have known this ever since we first began to entertain the idea of time travel and of paradox. So it should come as no surprise that "Bearing an Hourglass" is a seriously complex novel, with storylines crisscrossing each other at every opportunity. I mean this in a good way; "Hourglass" is a great book if you're looking for a plot that begins as an indecipherable mass of intrigue and slowly (Very. Slowly.) introduces the reader to it, even as the plot itself races onward. One thing to keep in mind; this book would be approximately 12 pages long if not for all the time traveling going on. The story twists and weaves within itself such that the reader will return to a point in time that happened in chapter 1 sometime around chapter 15, but with the perspective of someone that now knows exactly what's happening. At that point in chapter 1, nobody, not even the protagonist, and definitely not the reader, knew what was going on.

Being a writer myself, there's always a little something to be learned from the books I read. Anthony is a favorite author of mine, especially because his writing style seems subtly different in every story, as if he changes his writing to match the mood of the story, rather than all his work "sounding" the same. It dawned on me that writers don't need to maintain the same voice throughout their books, even through a series like this one. Throughout the Incarnations of Immortality series, Anthony has sounded more and more like the characters that star in the books; in Upon a Pale Horse he sounded depressed and pensive to match the Incarnation in that book (Death). In Hourglass, he develops a knowledgable (wise, even) tone as the story progresses, sounding more like my idea of Father Time than anyone has a right to. I've learned to do the same in my writing: put enough of yourself into your characters that readers can recognize you in it. At this, Anthony is a master.
Profile Image for Chak.
483 reviews5 followers
January 3, 2011
Bearing an Hourglass was a disappointment. On a Pale Horse was a hard act to follow. Hourglass was off to a quick and compelling start, but once Norton became so downtrodden that he was easy to manipulate into accepting the Office of The Incarnation of TIme, the book started to unravel for me. He was a well-developed protagonist who was easy to root for, and the idea of Time living his life backward was a good one (in fact, it was this idea that got me to pick up the first three books of this series) but I was annoyed by the clunky explanations of the physics behind it all (though I appreciated the effort) as well as the transparently elementary nature of Satan's tricks and how Norton's playing a part in them was insulting to the intelligence of his character. Also, Norton's debates with Satan paled in comparison with Zane's debates with him in On a Pale Horse, which were more thought-provoking and morally ambiguous.

I will go on to the third book in the series, however, because I'm still intrigued by the story and love the fact that these novels can be read as stand-alone books and probably can be read in any order (except that On a Pale Horse does establish the reality of Earth a little bit in the beginning, but it would be easy to pick up no matter where you started). I forgot to mention in my review of On a Pale Horse that I LOVED the Author's Note at the end (and loved it in this book as well). Anthony lets you into his entire world - the personal world of his family, his life, his writing process, the publishing business, pretty much everything that went on in his world while he was writing the book. That was even more fascinating than the book for me. The Note at the end of each book is long, but very worth reading.
Profile Image for Joan.
1,963 reviews
January 25, 2023
This is the one I dislike the most in this otherwise wonderful series. Anthony mentioned in his author's note that he had to do a fair amount of research for this title. It shows. Instead of it being incorporated more easily there are large infodumps in this title which are mostly confusing rather than interesting. He also mentioned Asimov in his note. He needed to leave the hard science to Asimov in my opinion. Another problem is that a substantial amount of the book is simply Norton trying to figure things out in a logical manner. Again, it was not terrifically interesting. I suspect Anthony was trying to show his audience how to reason things out but it was not a well done lesson. Finally, Satan seems more two dimensional in this title than in "On a Pale Horse". Luckily I know I loved the rest of the series so I'm willing to take a chance on it since otherwise I dislike this title enough I doubt I'd read the rest of the series. I was rather hoping I'd like this title better now that I have more time but time didn't seem to help me understand Chronos any! Recommended to those who loved Pale Horse enough to want to read the entire series. I promise you it gets better. I do rather agree that Norton was ridiculously infantile in his reaction to any female around. He is vastly in love with Orlene but gets along just great with Helga and even ok with the fantasy character from the fantasy sequences! It does make you wonder if Anthony was able to really understand that a real relationship is based on friendship and respect, not sex.
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
4,030 reviews329 followers
January 31, 2019
Out of all the Incarnations, the office of Time seems to be the most baffling one, since Chronos has to live backwards in time. But having power over spacetime (and being able to travel anywhere within) seems to be a more than adequate compensation for having to live backward and seeing everyone move forward. It seems that Mr. Anthony had a LOT of fun writing this book, playing around with the ideas of paradox, time travel, alternate realities, terrene and contraterrene worlds, space travel, and the like. It gets especially heady towards the end, such as the conversation between Chronos and Bemme, or Chronos traveling to the end of time and back and his realization/understanding of time and Satan's lies.

Overall a solid book with a lot of philosophical/scientific ideas with more seriousness than 'On a Pale Horse', this book is definitely one of the better in the series. Two thumbs up!
Profile Image for Barry.
81 reviews
September 22, 2007
This book's unusual concept of the main character living his life backward in time is interesting and makes the book worth reading as a learning experience if nothing else. Being the second book in the series, it could stand alone though I wouldn't recommend reading it without reading On a Pale Horse first. Sometimes the character's interactions with others are hard to follow, but it is an enjoyable book.
Profile Image for Diana.
1,509 reviews86 followers
August 6, 2018
This isn't my favorite in the series, it definitely suffers from second in a series syndrome. However, it's a definite must to read because if you skip it you'll miss seeing how the incarnations and their stories are intertwined. There are multiple things in the series you'll miss out on if you don't read this one. Which is why even though it's not a favorite I still give it a 3-star rating. Just remember when these were written there weren't many strong women in the Fantasy genre.
Profile Image for An EyeYii.
3,449 reviews57 followers
February 22, 2014
"They sure don't make Heroes like they used to" p 174. With the help of Death 'Thanatos' and girlfriend Luna (why no marriage?), three aspects of Fate Clothos, Atropos, and whoever, Satan's trickery is out-manoeuvred. Fun bits, Bat, Bem, Femme, in overall yawn. Inch-by-inch quasi-science blather makes time travel boring.

Worst is 'climax'. Fate says human safety hinges on one moment. But, for same reason, universes cannot split into parallel alternates, number of small decisions in chain is uncountable. One decision is not the only susceptible weak link. Butterflies, breezes, and paths are innumerable, small decisions add up to infinity.

Instead of peak excitement, hours stretch and stretch and ... Yawns while Chronos tries to stay awake waiting for when imp appears to divert Luna from becoming Senator and saving world - in future. Because somebody says so, that's why. He dabbles, dawdles, diddles nurse Helga, who doesn't mention previous - or was it later? - meeting, to pass time, walks backward into pedestrians trying to avoid Satan's watchers, wastes time.

Norton, "jack of any trade, expert at none, except maybe tale-telling" p 3, hikes in beloved artificial wilderness "always kind to animals" p 4 (those are his defining traits? have no bearing on plot), but needs money, agrees to provide heir for ghost Gawain whose family arranged respectable posthumous marriage to Orlene "honey-golden hair hung loose" p 23. She cannot see Gawain, but does see aura glow brightly for her perfect mate, pampers Norton, gives him magic ring he calls Sning, that talks in squeezes, one for yes, two for no, three for dunno.

Gawain offers financial support and lessons in fighting dragons (handy later), but wants the baby to look like him and asks Mother Nature Gaea for a favor, without mentioning genetic fatal wasting disease that kills within a year. Death Thanatos (book #1) has to take innocent in person, explains situation to Norton p 61. On basis of one conversation "he likes you" p 77, suggests for Chronos Time job.

Norton "sank into a pointless depression"p 54. True depression is a chemical imbalance, no cause, no reason. Norton is merely lonely, sad, mourning, grieving; he misses attention of Orlene, who now dotes only on babe. Therefore makes no sense he raves "never want any woman but her" p 69. Gawain in "shirt-sleeves .. change clothing at will" finds him on Mars p 73, "promised Clotho .. today" p 77 takes him to meet Chronos.

By living backwards, Norton can "be with Orlene again" p 77. Or not. Everyone else lives forward. Somehow "the maximum that could last is about four years". The theory for that, along with other time travel blather, is too confusing.

Blah blah blah. Position Hourglass, sand changes color. He experiments and everyone repeats: Sning, Clothos, Chronos, Thanatos, Satan. Yawn.

Satan offers tour of time, minion, ornament on neck chain. Idiot falls for Prince of Lies' "winning smile" p 110. In three sort-of Quests, he fights an alien Bem (Bug-Eyed- Monster in Dr Who origin movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEwikI...) with space cowboy Bat Dursten (spin off "Bat Masterson"), fights an Evil Sorceress and Guardian Dragon (remember Gawain's lessons?) for Damsel Excelsia and unicorn Alicorn. Final combination team and along the way, they all fight the trickery of Satan.

Profile Image for Clint Smith.
26 reviews
January 9, 2019
After finishing two Piers Anthony books I’ve decided...meh, not really a fan.
Profile Image for Charlotte English.
Author 64 books307 followers
December 21, 2011
The underlying premise of this series is that concepts such as Death, Time, Nature, Fate and War each have an immortal incarnation: a mortal man or woman who takes on the role for a given period of time, and whose job is to take care of all worldly matters pertaining to that concept.

The first story introduced Death to us. Bearing an Hourglass is the second book, and as might be guessed from the title it’s about Time. Norton is an ordinary man who agrees to take on the role of Time after a series of misfortunes and disappointments in his mortal life – specifically, the loss of the woman he loved.

As Chronos, he is obliged to live his life backwards, which makes interaction with other people confusing and difficult. This is merely one of a number of mind-bending ideas set forth in this story. Mr Anthony’s grasp of complicated time-based paradoxes is considerably better than mine, I admit, but I enjoyed the challenge of keeping the convoluted plot straight as Chronos does increasingly weird things with the flow of time.

Learning his new job is difficult for Norton, as might be expected, but this is further complicated by the activities of Satan, the Incarnation of Evil. Norton may be brand new on the job, but he’s launched into the thick of things right away as Satan tries to use Norton’s inexperience for his own ends. This portrayal of Satan wasn’t that original, I suppose: he’s a sharp-suited, urbane, smooth-talking businessman. But I didn’t mind that; he was fun to read about, and his plots are suitably fiendish.

Which brings me to an interesting point about this series. Satan’s latest plot relates back to the tricks he was pulling in book one (On a Pale Horse). Having previously read that book I could see some of it coming; if I hadn’t it would have been a different experience, as most of it would have been a surprise. Knowing what Satan was trying to pull somewhat earlier than Norton didn’t at all ruin the experience though; it was interesting, and a clever way to connect the two books.

I had mixed feelings about Norton himself. He is a bloke with a one-track-mind. Even after he loses the one woman he sincerely loved, he’s so easily distracted by an attractive female (of which there is always a very ready supply). He lets go of the aforesaid former love rather easily in the end, and this supposedly driving motivation just fades away. He came across as a rather flimsy hero, then, whose love isn’t worth much.

All told though, this was an enjoyable read. The first book was more fantasy than science fiction; this one was more science fiction than fantasy. I’m looking forward to the third book: I’m sure there are some more surprises in store.
Profile Image for Anastaciaknits.
Author 3 books41 followers
October 30, 2016
I've read this book a few times over the years, and I'll state the same thing at the beginning of reviewing all the I of I books: this is a re-read, and the first time reviewing the books. I'm reviewing all of the books after I finished re-reading the entire series, which I don't normally do & didn't do deliberately this time, either...

I do believe this is one of Anthony's better series, but there's a lot of promise to the series, and for some of the books, a lot of promise and not a lot of delivering.

This was always my least favorite of the books in the series, not counting the horrible 8th book which I pretend doesn't exist because it's so horrible WRONG and BAD. This continues to be true in re-reading the books, especially after finishing rereading all of them.

My issue with the book- or main issue, really- is the same now as it was then. I just can't wrap my head around the fact that Chronos lives backwards. I understand why he does, but it just seems like there's these huge gaping holes in the story line that is just ignored, all these holes created by the fact that he lives backwards. And the only explanation in the entire series is that Chronos is "mostly immune" to paradox- mostly immune meaning whenever Anthony doesn't want to explain something, Chronos is immune, the rest of the time he's not immune? Hmm.... I don't write books, I don't pretend to be an author, but when there's HUGE gaping holes in a story line it just feels like the author is being lazy... In his LONG author's note in the back of the book, Anthony leads you to believe that the holes in the story line will be answered later on in the series, but this never happens.

This is turning more into a series review, and I apologize.

To make a long review longer, a lot of this book is important to the rest of the series, and I do feel as if it's important to hear each Incarnation's point of view for the series as a whole, but it's still my least favorite of the series.

Profile Image for Mike.
341 reviews27 followers
April 9, 2012
Poor George Guidall is such a great voice actor that he's often hired to read horrible novels. But even a rose growing out of shit is still a shitty rose.

I own maybe 4 books in this series and have owned them for about ten years. I keep trying to get into Book 1 but I just cannot. So this attempt was via Audio and with one of my favorite narrators George Guidall.

More than halfway complete but I cannot continue. I really like the characters, i just hate this story! This novel is contaminated with Nonsense and, for a Fantasy novel, that has to be difficult. How can you go wrong in Fantasy when you have the power to create your own World and it's Languages and Cultures and Rules and Laws.

Maybe that much power is the reason for the trouble. But when you find yourself pinned against a wall you yourself created what's the best resolution: apparently CONVENIENCE.

Very often the "rescue" moments were so tidy and convenient it felt unfair! Nonsense. Also, the many layers and layers of past timelines, possible future timelines, parallel time and paradox I guess am just not smart enough to follow.

Is my distaste for this novel and DISTRUST of this series strictly all mine? I have not read any other Anthony but, for ten years, have found the very idea of this series intriguing. It frustrates me that I just cant accept these for what little they are! i'm seeing about the same reaction from die-hard Anthony fans as well.

My two star rating is out of courtesy. Perhaps if I'd read book 1 or 3 book 2 would be more acceptable? Also, George Guidall certainly did an amazing job distinctly voicing the many characters and also reading words backward.
Profile Image for Melissainau.
246 reviews
March 17, 2012
OK, I'm giving up. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, maybe a little more, and this book is so unutterably horrible that it sucks the joy out of reading. All I feel is guilt that I am not finishing it and a sense of dread at having to return to it. I might try the next book in the series but I am genuinely surprised that I remembered this series with any fondness at all, and mortified that I ordered 5 of the books (only had 2 of my own) to complete the set, with a view to recommending them to the Bigster. BIGSTER STAY AWAY FROM THIS DROSS!!! I have given the book 1 star to show that I rated it at all, but if I could I would give it NEGATIVE stars because, as already noted, it sucks the joy out of everything else with its manifest horribleness.

It's not the horrible ways that women are (or aren't) portrayed.
It's not the boring bits.
It's not the fact that the hero is just such a moron.

It's all of the above plus a miasma of icky that permeates the book.

It's not even a good "Teenage Boy Book". It's just not even good.

So I am officially Giving Up. And reviewing, to mark that.
Profile Image for Scycer.
297 reviews5 followers
November 26, 2016
Mr Anthony Piers may I bow down and congratulate you on your amazing writing. Half the time I wonder was he on LSD or some other drugs and half the time I feel like I am on a chair with a psychiatrist showing me weird pictures asking me how I feel.

I am blown away and find it amazing that Piers can make the illogical tie up with the logical.

I read the first Immortals series a long time back on a PDF document while in college and since I have set myself on an adventure to find these classics from second hand book stores and after nearly 8 years I reached the second one. Boy has this journey been rewarding.

I first came in touch with Anthony Piers through the series "Biography of a space tyrant " and then came to the Immortals series. One clue for those who are yet to read the book, perhaps Merin was Chronos at some point in time.

A brilliant read.. though not a serious read. Chill enjoy and relax. Let your mind take you to places rarely visited.
Profile Image for S..
Author 5 books66 followers
September 10, 2019
after reading two high literature books (Bindi by Paul Maisano and the Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin), I'm taking a break with the highly-readable if somewhat disreputable Piers Anthony. this isn't the hypersexualized Xanth series, but the almost as popular Incarnations of Immortality series, and the action proceeds fluently.

Anthony, despite his audience of incels (ha), can tell a story. so we bring out the four stars, and note that this isn't great literature or even literary fiction at all, but if it succeeds in capturing the attention, then it isn't all that bad...
36 reviews4 followers
September 22, 2007
The 2nd book in the Incarnations series, while I love books that deal with Time, this isn't as good as the Death book, but I still love it.

And though it's nice to have read book 1, it's not required. These are independant stories until you get up closer to book 4 or 5, and even then you won't be that confused.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
245 reviews
August 7, 2007
Slightly more adult writing from Mr. Anthony. In this series he reveals the incarnations (Time, Death, War) to be real offices people can enter or vacate. This series allows him much more room for social and moral commentary while still being fun and escapist reading.
Profile Image for ALICIA MOGOLLON.
148 reviews11 followers
October 7, 2019
Really fun and intriguing read. The characters are well developed and likeable.
723 reviews
March 2, 2022
This book was so dumb I contemplated quitting but ultimately decided to skim instead.

I liked the first book because it focused on how Death would do his job: the difficulties of being everywhere, the weighing of souls for good and evil (and how much THAT is in the eye of the beholder), the pain and heartbreak of sudden, violent death. I enjoyed watching him question the system and figure out his own priorities within it.

THIS BOOK WAS NOT THAT BOOK. Time really doesn't seem like he has a lot to do. He can jump around, but he always seems like he doesn't know what's going on. Even as he "lives backward" (more about that logistical nightmare in a second), when he meets up with his colleagues, more often than not they still have to explain shit to him, because even though he lived through it already, things got changed in the past and so he doesn't actually know what happened. And Time is not a very interesting character: other than liking the wilderness and having loved and lost, he's pretty boring and wishy-washy.

The whole living backward thing is an interesting idea, but the author really does not know how to make it operational. In the extended scene of making everyone live backward, they don't actually live backward: they're still capable of saying different things even if their bodies move backward (HA HA: pooping in reverse is SO FUNNY). So when Agleh/Helga is helping him, she helps him FORWARD by doing reconnaissance for him (after he asks her, not before) and talking to him in conversations that move in the correct way for them to communicate (stupid idea of writing that comes off the page--doesn't work). NONE OF IT ACTUALLY WORKS. So it's just a gimmick that adds to the muddle of the rest.

As for the whole "fiction is lies" thing: I had an inkling of this before it was revealed. The adventures he has on the planets that have "contraterrene" time and anti-matter and all of that seemed like gobbledy-gook from the Devil. The adventures themselves were DUMB and took up a lot of pages (hence the skimming, especially when it had been revealed that the stories were meant to sideline Time from the main action). It's an interesting point, and I give the author credit for writing "bad" fiction to show how stories are manipulating and manipulatable. But reading "bad" fiction is not fun.

He really cannot help himself from writing about the beauty (or not) of every single female character. They are ALL introduced by their physical characteristics, whereas the men rarely are. I am clearly not the (adolescent, male, straight) audience for this, and I got exasperated after awhile.

I finished it because I'm hoping to continue the saga, but if the next one doesn't get better, I'm out. Probably.
Profile Image for Erik.
211 reviews7 followers
April 24, 2019
I think this series is growing on me a bit. While I am certain the first book was better written, I believe this book has a better plot and is far more creative. Not always in a good way, but unforgettable and different for sure.

I found the sidebar scenes to be annoying/ jarring to read, yet appreciated the effort to engulf the reader into the same confusion as our protagonist Chronos faced. I really liked how Anthony manipulated the writing to illustrate time moving backwards and forwards. I've never seen this done like that before, and it was a positive experience for me now but could prove annoying if it continues in the remaining series books.

Yes, all the women are either supermodels or frumpy undesirables. But you don't find frumpy Bond women in the movies, and in that vein you will not find them in these Anthony books either. It is what it is. If it is going to bother you, just move along because there is nothing I can really do to whitewash this. I'd hope you can simply ignore that segment and simply enjoy the story, because it is really decent.

I sort of dinged the first of the series for the treatment of our fairer sex, so I am sort of feeling that this penalty is served and will not continue that going forward. Reviewer's choice I'll call it. The story is well tied in with the first book, and I'd frankly tell people to read the first one in order to better handle the plot here. I do hope this is the weakest of the books (based on other reviews), because then I will really have some good reading ahead. The handling of Time was very thought provoking and tied in well with the thoughts given on Death in the first book.

Overall, I'd say a nice fun 4 Stars.
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