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Headscratchers: Incarnations of Immortality
  • Most of the events of the second half of Wielding a Red Sword would never have happened if one of the other Incarnations had just told poor Mym that he couldn't conceive a child with Rapture because the magic of the Incarnation offices prevents all one's cells from aging, including the reproductive ones. You'd think someone (particularly Zane, who has a similar girlfriend situation) would have been neighborly enough to tell him.
    • That assumes Mr. "I'm a prince, I don't have to give a [bleep] about anyone else" would have condescended to listen to someone who was not also royalty. It took him losing Rapture to finally start growing out of the spoiled-prince bit and get a few clues about others mattering.
    • Also, Zane himself might not have been aware of the matter. After all, if he and Luna were not trying to conceive, he might well not have noticed his sterility.
    • And then there's the slight fact that Rapture left him because she wanted to be her own woman instead of a glorified concubine to a husband in charge of War.
    • Nobody tells anyone anything in this series. The most experienced Incarnations (Fate and Gaea) are manipulative bitches who are willing to let their colleagues die if that's what it takes to stop Satan. Fate isn't going to tell Mym something if he can mature more (or come to hate Satan more) by learning it on his own.

  • In contrast, Mym figured out intuitively how to get out of his body, when Zane had no idea how to do it in On a Pale Horse - Molly had to guide him through it. This may be partially justified by the fact that one of War's main abilities is to phase in with living people, but it still bugged me when I read it.
    • There's also the possibility that Mym is just smarter than Zane.
    • Or that Zane would've figured it out eventually, he just happened to run into Molly before he really had the chance to.

  • So far in the first three books, Piers Anthony seems to have an affinity for forced relationships: Luna and Zane's forced meeting (with intent to make them date), Orlene and Norton's forced dalliance (with intent to make her pregnant), Niobe and Cedric's forced marriaged, to name a few. I didn't really bat an eye at any of it until Niobe — shown explicitly not to love Cedric at all, except in a patronizing, motherly way — instantly falls in love with him when he beats the daylights out of some would-be rapists. They immediately make sweet love and everything is wuvvy-duvvy, going-at-it-like-rabbits (both of them were virgins until that point) from then on. Urgh. I groaned out loud when that happened.
    • More forced relationships in books 4-7: Mym/Rapture (the Incarnation of War), an Arranged Marriage between a prince and princess; Parry/Jolie (the Incarnation of Evil), also some kind of arranged marriage. In Volume 5, there's a prophecy that Orb will marry Satan, and that's also a forced relationship—but unlike the others, Orb avoids this marriage until the very end of the book, when she can't fight fate and does marry Satan. Volume Seven involves Vita, who is a forced prostitute, but it doesn't get any closer than that.
      • This is explicitly Fate's modus operandi, though; the Fates' most important role in the Gambit Pileup is to arrange love and marriages so that everyone will be hooked together at the right moment for God to get tossed out and Orlene to seize the throne. Zane calls them out on it, but sadly, they just brush him off.
      • This is typical of Anthony in general, actually — cf. Blue Adept and many Xanth novels (Ogre Ogre and GitG especially). Some outside force decides that A and B are "made for each other" and sticks them together to make it happen.
      • Well, an outside force is... its name is Piers Anthony. Sorta takes the romance out of it when you realize it's just him banging his action figures together, huh?

  • Heck, if that's the only thing annoying you... So the Senate of the USA impeached god in "...And Eternity". Fine, I'll roll with that. But what about every other country with Christians living there? And every faith has it's own set of incarnations. Fine too... Except both Gaea, Satan and Mym are shown to have powers that would affect everyone on the planet (Some of Satan's ploys don't exactly leave the Buddhist safe do they? The black plague didn't check you religion when it infected people).
    • Everybody else voted. Everybody else voted first. The US Senate ended up with the swing vote.
      • Which still leaves plenty of Fridge Logic regarding the christian incarnations being fundamentally capable of affecting people who aren't under their jurisdictions. And for the impeachment part, I can see other mainly christian nations doing a vote (I guess), but what about the non christian countries? I somehow don't see Iran doing that kind of vote for the sake of it's christian minority.
      • The Christian system is, however, the most powerful and dominant religion in the world, its God asserts authority over everyone, the Incarnations assert the Omniscient Morality License ("By the right of necessity. All mankind will be damned if we don't meddle."), and they have the power to enforce that where they need to. Also, it's possible that, in a world without Islam, assuming that's the case, Babylonia and Persia would be Christianized instead. In any case, it's mentioned that Satan's forces (Those Wacky Nazis) were capable of slaughtering JHVH's followers. That still doesn't explain why Mym is allowed to screw around in India for a personal interest, though...
      • As for non-Christian nations, I imagine that the Indian sultanates (Iran, see above for my theory) weren't asked their opinion and their Christian minorities were discounted. The rules for the vote itself were agreed upon by what amounted to consultations and compromises between the Incarnations (including Satan) and the nations of the world; exactly how the former interact with the latter is anyone's guess of course.
      • Non-Christian nations weren't at issue in the vote to impeach God. One of the Incarnations (Nature I think) stated that the vote would be cast only among those mortals that believed in God. (How exactly that was supposed to work was not explained.)
      • Even taking into account that what Satan does, and certain Incarnations, affects the whole world, it doesn't seem either fair or sensible for people who don't even believe in the Christian God to be voting on whether He should be replaced. For one thing there's the Logic Bomb of how you can vote about someone you don't even believe exists, and then there's the whole issue of religious rivalry, past atrocities leading to resentment and grudges, those who think religion itself is wrong/stupid/dangerous, all of which would result in plenty of good reasons to sabotage the Incarnations' efforts so as to make their deities supreme, get revenge, save the world from the "opiate of the masses", and so on. Far better to leave it up to those whom it actually matters to. If those not voting don't even believe God and Satan exist, then they would think the whole vote is a ridiculous charade, and if they do but choose not to acknowledge/worship them, then God's followers wouldn't accept the non-Christians' votes anyway—it's an internal matter. Those who follow other deities would likely believe they would save them (or they'd just get reincarnated and the world doesn't matter anyway), and those who don't believe at all would probably consider the amount of evil and destruction in the world to be no worse whether there's a Satan/derelict God in charge or not.
      • Some, not all, of the concerns above can be addressed by the fact that while the "God" who is the Incarnation of Good is a Christian Deity, the others are not: Mars, Chronos, Thanatos, the three Fate aspects, and Gaea, for example, are from ancient religions that no one has sincerely practiced in over a thousand years. They represent the concepts of War, Time, Death, Fate, and Nature, which exist everywhere, regardless of whether you believe in the specific deity. There is no place that is outside of their jurisdiction. Now, obviously, that explanation does not apply to the clearly Christian God, but I'll leave someone else to ponder that. As for Mym being allowed to "screw around in India" for personal interest, the case in question was a battle being fought in a war, which placed it under his jurisdiction: He's allowed to influence it however he sees fit as long as he doesn't go barging in on the territory of other Incarnations. If he wants to stop the war, the only person who has the authority to argue with him is God, and obviously that isn't going to happen.

  • "Oh, hey, I'm technically legal now that I've been off time-traveling and shit! Time to boink!"

  • There are a couple of discontinuities that are especially glaring on re-read, the first meeting with Chronos in the first book should have been Chronos's farewell, and there is an incarnation of dreams mentioned by Lilah in "For Love of Evil" that shouldn't exist until centuries later, in the resolution of the last book.
    • I think Chronos was trying not to freak out the new guy with the whole "I live backwards" thing on his first day.
      • I'd like to think that Zane, having been informed of how Norton lives, may have spoken to him privately a few days later and given him the opportunity to say "farewell, and thanks for all the help over the years".

  • Fridge Logic: Various cases, but one relating to Satan has always kind of bugged this troper. In the first book, Death makes some references to Persephone, causing Satan to snap that he'd like to keep his private life private. Later books show that the tale of Hades and Persephone couldn't have been this Incarnation of Evil's private life at all. So Hades was an Incarnation of Evil? Why was Satan taking umbrage on his behalf? Was it just a ruse to keep the nature of the office secret? But why, to what purpose? Is For Love of Evil a huge Retcon? Arrrrg!
    • Well, he is the Prince of Lies. Also, could be metaphorical.
    • It was actually Molly who brought up Persephone. Also, if I'm understanding the main page right, the first five books were planned, then the next two, then the last. The Persephone line may have just been an oversight when writing for Love of Evil.
      • If Greek culture had a relevant Incarnation(different cultures have different sets of Incarnations), it would probably be someone like Cronus or Oranus rather than Hades, who is noted many times on this site to have been a fairly reasonable fellow, as gods go. Zane in this instance is Sadly Mythtaken, and Satan is in all likelyhood just screwing with him.

  • Satan had a wager revolving around him damning one person or their descendants, to the third generation. Peachy. The plot of the first six books is eventually revealed to revolve around stopping him from damning Cedric and Niobe's family. Once, it bugged me that this essentially reduced decades of god-level conflict to a grudge against a handful of random people, but en even bigger issue is this: to get the edge to save his family from Satan, The Magician (Cedric and Niobe's son) sold his soul. And then went to hell for it. So... didn't Satan win the wager?
    • No. The wager doesn't just involve him damning the person. The deal was that he had to corrupt or otherwise influence Niobe, or her child, or her grandchild in a way that would enable him to take power from God. Having the Magician's soul in Hell didn't give him any leverage over God, so he didn't win the wager. Furthermore, I'm not sure if "grudge" is the right choice of words. Satan didn't have anything personal against Niobe or her family, he just saw them as a means to a larger end.
    • Also, the Magician chose to study Black Magic and damn himself willingly, so as to help save Luna and in turn the world. So that does not count as corruption. Technically by the rules he had been damned, but that isn't what the wager with Gabriel meant by damnation or corruption since the Magician didn't actually turn evil.
      • I seem to recall that Gabriel specifically said "daughter or granddaughter" not child or grandchild. Since the Magician was a son, he didn't count.

  • Speaking of Satan, why does he bother fighting the other Incarnations in a way that they can even see as a conflict? He proves repeatedly that his illusions can convincingly counterfit people an Incarnation knows and trusts, aspects of an Incarnations realm (I.E., the Fate computer), and even uses of an Incarnation's powers! What could possibly be stopping him from just leading each of them in turn to a remote corner of the galaxy where they won't be likely to hit his plans by accident, then trapping them in a constant fantasy of beating Satan and/or boinking all those hot people/gods/demons/ghosts they're all so interested in? Sense of fair play? And if his illusions can affect anyone, why not use them on the Angels to counterfit God's will (God wont speak for himself, after all), and re-arrange Heaven to his liking?
    • In For Love Of Evil, Satan is revealed to be generally good, despite being the Incarnation Of Evil. Perhaps he wants to fight fair. As for re-arranging Heaven by pretending to be God, he would have two problems with that: 1) His issue isn't with Heaven, it's with the Celestial Bureaucracy as a whole. He wants to change how good and evil are defined and influencing the angels isn't enough to make that happen. (In "...And Eternity", he says that a joint meeting between himself and God is necessary to change those definitions.) Thus, in order to accomplish anything, he would need to either be God or have a new God to deal with. 2) Although he holds the title of the Father Of Lies, Satan believes in keeping his word when it is given. He made an agreement with the Angel Gabriel that he would abide by the terms of the wager, which states that he must influence the members of Niobe's bloodline. Attempting to influence Heaven would be cheating. (And in any event, Gabriel knows that God is tuned out, so he would most likely see through the charade.)
    • Satan can't really put them in a constant fantasy for too long. Death alone can't take too long from his duties. None of the Incarnations can. If one of them was missing too long, it would throw the system off horribly along with his plans. All he can do is distract them away from his true goals and hope they don't catch it.
    • The above, and plus, as the penultimate part of the first book (and second) shows, an Incarnation can't be balked in their primary office once they assert themselves, i.e. Death can't be stopped from taking a soul, Time can't be manipulated, ect ect. This makes any long-term deception difficult.
    • He does put Chronos in a Lotus-Eater Machine. Chronos breaks out.

  • So, I'm currently re-reading And Eternity, and I have a huge issue with the Evolutionist/Creationist debate scene. Jolie, who is arguing Creationism, states that dinosaurs didn't exist and the bones the scientists found were just put there by God for laughs. Orlene, who is serving as the juror between the two sides, seems to have no problem with this statement. This was really aggravating when you realize that Gawain, her ghost husband was killed by an Allosaurus, a dinosaur! No one seems to bring that up.
    • Orlene is acting as a debate judge. She believes in Evolution, she knows some of the facts, but she can't take a position based on her own knowledge, only what's presented to her. (All Piers Anthony characters will always scrupulously follow the rules of any game, remember.)

  • In Bearing an Hourglass, are all the Incarnations that Norton meets the ones that we know personally, i.e. the ones that is introduced in each book? We know that Zane is still Death, but is War Mym, is Nature Orb etc
    • Near as I can tell, And Eternity happens before and after Bearing an Hourglass. Norton is present in the first section, but the last section happens after Chronos is replaced, and Norton temporarily has to step in because otherwise the then-Time would be affecting his own thread. So the answer is "yes."

Immortals After DarkHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Indian in the Cupboard

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