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Bearing an Hourglass

(Incarnations of Immortality #2)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  21,874 ratings  ·  482 reviews

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 incantations 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
Mass Market Paperback, 372 pages
Published October 1984 by Random House Ballantine Del Rey (first published July 12th 1984)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  21,874 ratings  ·  482 reviews

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Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
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.

David Staniforth
Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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 narra ...more
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. ...more
Mar 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 re
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
I have to admit I skimmed some of this 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. 🤷‍♀️
Apr 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 proce
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 Pie ...more
Matt Guion
Aug 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Sarah Jane Wood
Feb 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mythology, fiction
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 ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers of fantasy looking for a vacation book
Recommended to Chak by: YMCA share-a-book shelf
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 se ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
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 ...more
Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: probably
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. ...more
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. ...more
An Odd1
Feb 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
"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 unco
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
Clint Smith
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
After finishing two Piers Anthony books I’ve decided...meh, not really a fan.
Charlotte English
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, fantasy
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 deli
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: A Sadist.
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 wit
Feb 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NOBODY!
Shelves: sff, books-i-loathed
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 ...more
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 fro
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 i
Jennifer Troike
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys fantasy
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.
Aug 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: most
Shelves: fiction-fantasy
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.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Really fun and intriguing read. The characters are well developed and likeable.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Millie Taylor
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Once again, it's interesting to see how you feel about a book when you read it as a teenager vs adult. I remember loving this book as a teenager and thinking that Norton was a neat, if nerdy guy who fit the job of Chronos quite well. Now? Well...

As with On A Pale Horse, I was reading this and thinking, "Dang, I don't remember Norton being this slow!" Also, he could have saved a LOT of trouble for everyone if he'd just quit thinking with his penis. Seriously, Nort? I don't care how much Excelsia'
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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 environm

Other books in the series

Incarnations of Immortality (8 books)
  • On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, #1)
  • With a Tangled Skein (Incarnations of Immortality, #3)
  • Wielding a Red Sword (Incarnations of Immortality, #4)
  • Being a Green Mother (Incarnations of Immortality, #5)
  • For Love of Evil (Incarnations of Immortality, #6)
  • And Eternity (Incarnations of Immortality, #7)
  • Under a Velvet Cloak (Incarnations of Immortality, #8)

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