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Wielding a Red Sword

(Incarnations of Immortality #4)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  18,582 ratings  ·  260 reviews
Mym falls in love with Orb, then Princess Rapture in Honeymoon Castle, but father wants to force another marriage. In berserker rage, he takes office of War. He tries to ease suffering caused by human conflicts, When demoness Lila says pretty Princess Ligeia is trapped by Satan, he has to organize a rebellion in Hell to set everyone free. Author Note 24-pg bio 1-pg.
Paperback, LCC 867900, 314 pages
Published December 1987 by Random House Ballantine Del Rey (first published September 12th 1986)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,582 ratings  ·  260 reviews

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Oct 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
Original review (2 stars):
This series has been a roller coaster ride for me. I thoroughly enjoyed books 1 & 3 but struggled to even finish 2 & 4.

I think I may have liked Wielding a Red Sword the least, which I didn't think possible after reading Bearing an Hourglass. At least I liked Norton and Orlene. I can't say the same about Mim and Rapture. The only thing that kept me going was the connection to Orb.

I am so curious about Orlene and Sning and hope to get some resolution on that front in numb
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Another in the series of the incarnations of immortality, this one follows Aries on some adventures.

Like Frank Herbert's Dune series, this one lets the reader go easily, as each successive book in the series gets a little worse, until the reader doesn't mind leaving the series.

This one was entertaining, but the originality and imagination of On a Pale Horse is gone and we are just slogging along to the end.

Still fun though.

Jeremy Preacher
Jan 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
I only have a couple of the Incarnations of Immortality series, because it is a wildly uneven series as a whole (Anthony, predictably, can't write female protagonists worth a damn, and the one about Time is straight out of pulp space opera for no obvious reason) and this was #3 on my list of the three that I can stand.

It's kind of awful. But first, the good bits:

1. This book was totally the reason I bought a translation of The Book of Five Rings at age 12, and that is a profound and fascinating
Elizabeth Rose
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Took me so long to read because I couldn't bring myself to want to put myself through the misery. Characters are slightly more developed here than in other books, but this one reeks with racism (unfair, one-dimensional stereotypes of Indians), sexism (woman's suffrage is taught to the poor, backwards Indian woman by a demon of hell, the only women worth Mym's time are pure virgins, Mym outright talks about the whole 'men are allowed to sleep with many women, but women should know only one man' a ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I need more books in my life whose titles begin with a gerund. Those were the days.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
i seemed to like this better as a kid
I just cannot get excited about this title, probably for two reasons. 1) I suspect Anthony gave it a noble effort but still had trouble rationalizing the necessity of war and 2) I don't really agree with his rationalization. However, the human who was the incarnation of Mars was a great character! It also was fun seeing the perspective from a Hindu point of view. Besides, the way Mars got into Hell itself and made a crisis for Satan was lots of fun! So Ultimately, I'd say this was a 3.5, roundin ...more
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
After the series improved a bit with the third installment, I had hopes for subsequent books, but after slogging through this I am turning my back on Piers Anthony and the rest of his "Incarnations of Immortality" series. Anthony is a prolific and best-selling author, but I just don't like his style. The characterizations are thin and too often stereotypical, the dialogue is usually stilted and unnatural, and the "philosophy" behind the Incarnations isn't all that thought-provoking (in part, I s ...more
Don LaFountaine
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who enjoy fantasy stories
Book # 4 of The Incarnations series is about the Incarnation of War, Mars. Another wonderful addition to this series.

It follows Mym, who is forced to leave a woman he loves in order to marry another woman; all in the name of what's best for his country. Then after he falls in love with this second woman, it ends up that the only way he can stay with her and not be forced to marry another is to become Mars. All thanks, of course, to Satan. He then starts to tempt Mym by sweetening the pot, so to
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
Not the best in this series, but still very good at 4/5 stars. Some books in this series were bound to be better than others but it's all good, and this book does not disappoint even if it's a bit repetitive in some parts. However, the philosophical discussions between Mars and Satan are to be considered and thought about, since they raised some excellent points (and I became more appreciative of this book after reading 'For Love of Evil') ...more
An Odd1
Feb 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
The first of the series shows Death as imperfect youth who grows into responsibility, eases pain and suffering. Likewise, War serves purposes in society. Groups, rather than teenage individuals, rebel and gain independence. Masculine aggressive hormones are channeled to larger goals. Remembered pluses bury under blather in re-read.

Mym stutters under dictator father Rajah, runs away. Orb sings, her suggestion stops his speech impediment. He falls in a forever-after kind of love, twice. Honeymoon
A compelling collaboration between real life and fantasy.: This, the fourth book in the Incarnations Of Immortality series, has to be the most compelling. It begins in a travelling circus in India, where we first meet the main character Mym, a mysterious character who gradually throughout the book we get to know, like and sympathise with due to a speech impediment. Mym befriends, and falls in love with, a young and beautiful musician called Orb, with whome we met as a child in the previous Incar ...more
Jaime K
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more of a 4.5 stars as I felt like I was able to get into it faster than with books 2 & 3.

As with the previous 3 novels, Wielding a Red Sword weaves the main Incarnation's life with those of others we have met before. This is about War, who was known as Mym as a mortal. He was in love with Orb, Lachesis' daughter, and sends is current love Rapture to stay with Luna (Lachesis' granddaughter and Death's lover) during the day.

And, as usual, Satan puts his hand where it doesn't belong, tryi
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 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...

OK this is another one in the series I liked. Mym is a sexist jerk, but he's a product of his upbringing and Piers Anthony wrote him that way, so it's not Mym's f
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This book lost some of the balance present in #3, and is merely getting 3 stars not because of the story itself but because I just didn't like it as much. AND... the main character Mym, as a woman, his views of women and their purpose is a tad offensive. HAHA! But I guess that's what you get when you have a backward thinking Hindu prince expecting a wife AND a harem. His nature is tempered by his first love, but becomes increasingly noticeable throughout the book. It seems that his main motivati ...more
Andrew Breslin
Oct 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
It's been ages since I read On a Pale Horse and though the details are hazy, I remember enjoying it. So when I won this as the consolation prize after a narrow whiskey-soaked defeat at the local pub quiz, I thought perhaps I was the winner after all. No such luck. My delusuions have been dispelled. I am and shall remain: a loser.

I haven't read any of the other Incarnation books, and now I doubt that I will, unless the sadistic quiz-master continues to foist them upon the also-rans. While Pale H
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I originally rated this 4 stars back when I first read it, but with many more years of reading behind me now, I realize this is actually the book in this series that I like the least. This one is about Mars, God of War. It's hard to reconcile a mortal who stutters becoming the God of War because he must sing his commands in order to make himself understood. Sorry, that's just rather odd and doesn't seem to fit the Incarnation. It is interesting, though, to see how his views on the necessity of w ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Re-read 2018

Mim is a berserker who had to learn to overcome his stutter that his father shamed him for. Because he didn't want to live in his country or deal with his family any longer due to how they have treated him he leaves in the middle of the night and ends up doing menial work in a traveling circus. During that time he receives more help with his speech from a singer in the caravan, who he ends up falling in love with. Unfortunately, his fate takes him on a different path, and he eventual
Misty Dawn
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: no one.
Recommended to Misty by: Nir Chezrony.
Shelves: fiction
not as good as the first three... on a pale horse being the best.
and while i know i'm not his target audience, per se, putting female virginity on such a high pedestal is getting old. i noticed it from the beginning, but this one really pushed it past endurance. the only female of significance who's had sex before finding her 'one true partner' is a demoness. of course. the evil seductress who refuses to be shy for impure concubine, the virgin maiden in a tower for princess.
maybe my infatuation
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I recently heard a fascinating "This American Life" segment that tangentially involved Piers Anthony. It piqued my curiosity so I randomly selected this novel from my library. The book was published in 1986 and by today's standards would be considered YA. I viewed the plot as Anthony placing some Reagan-era foreign policy hot spots against a standard fantasy tale with swords, apparitions and nymphs. If I read this when I was 15 I would have thought it was awesome; so you can say gaining context ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This series was delightful. Not only were the characters well rounded, but the story lines made me think in new ways. I completely enjoyed the author's views! I also was amazed that each book stood alone so well and were all designed so they could be read in any order with no loss of ideas or integrity to the story. I have always had difficulty with understanding war ... the ideas and concepts in this book aided more than any history or ethics class. ...more
Apr 19, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked the irony in this one; the book spends more time on love than anything else, and learning how to function in his office is almost incidental. And when it's not love, it's a continuous seduction attempt by a concubine. Fun, fun! It's also cool that Mars is a Hindu, and is thrown into this "Heaven or Hell" mentality when he's more into the Reincarnation idea. ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fourth in the Incarnations of Immortality series,I found this story great if, for no other reason, the Incarnation of War, Mars, actually realizing his romantic interest in the end. George Guidall, as in the previous stories, does an awesome job as narrator and really brings the story to life!! 7 out of 10 on this one for me.
Mike (the Paladin)
Not a bad read. Wonder what Anthony thinks of war????

Anyway, I found the "Incarnations of Immortality" series to (as you may be used to me saying if you've read many of my reviews) run hot and cold. I burned out on them fairly quickly.
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Love the whole series
Matt Guion
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
The fourth book in the Incarnations of Immortality series focuses around the Incarnation of War. I feel like this book had the potential to be as good as On a Pale Horse. War, like Death, is a difficult subject with many facets and many moral implications to discuss and explore. And the book does resemble On a Pale Horse in some ways. All of the books thus far have a similar structure. The first part introduces the mortal character and shows how he or she becomes the Incarnation. The second show ...more
Erik Akre
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: maybe mythology nerds? or Piers Anthony readers?
Shelves: fantasy
Piers Anthony holds the same place in my heart held by cheap paperback Star Wars novelists. It is a perfectly fine and good place in my heart. He does what he does, and on his own terms he delivers. For example, in the bizarre and extensive author's note addended to this novel, Anthony tells his readers about the fan mail he receives, and one letter illustrates the point. A fan wrote and thanked Anthony for his novels, because they helped ease the boredom of a long convalescence. And there you h ...more
Marian Willeke
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
After three books that wove the concepts of death, time, and fate in how the world functioned, I was looking forward to seeing how Anthony interpreted war and managed it from the perspective of the incarnations. While there was some scattering of philosophical intertwining concerning how war worked on a systemic level, one has to slog through a series of love-gone-wrong experiences for Mym that frankly feel irrelevant and annoying.

Even providing plenty of grace for the huge space between commone
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
These have been the most interesting books from Piers I have read. In this series we follow humans who become supernatural beings based on ideals and concepts. In this book we follow War. War is new to his job and Satan tests him relentlessly. This is what endeared me to this book.

Unlike other books problems are not solved through murder of ones enemies. Its not just positioning oneself to kill someone then carrying it out; since they incarnations can not kill each other. This is something Piers
Berry Muhl
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
(I read this book several weeks ago, so start / finish dates are approximate.)

I've read a decent chunk of Anthony's output over the years: three Cthon novels, maybe three-fourths of all the Xanth novels, and one other Incarnations of Immortality novel. (Well, part of it. I don't think I ever finished the first one.)

It's an interesting premise, which I won't spoil except to say that it takes on a sort of Greek mythology approach to anthropomorphizing various Immortal entities.

In this one, a perso
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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)
  • Bearing an Hourglass (Incarnations of Immortality, #2)
  • With a Tangled Skein (Incarnations of Immortality, #3)
  • 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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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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