Saturday, June 23

With a Tangled Skein – Piers Anthony

Niobe was beautiful, self-possessed, and too good for the men her father offered her in marriage. After two rejections, her father stood firm – she would marry Cedric, a stripling from an academically inclined family. Though Niobe protested, her father stood firm, and Niobe ended up living in a hut with a boy almost ten years her junior. Proximity, Cedric’s physique and comely face, his tender personality, and his gift – when he sang and touched her it was as though an orchestra accompanied him – changed her mind, and affection soon turned to abiding love. When Cedric went to university the parting was hard on them both but did not dim their love, and the arrival of a son compounded their joy. Cedric’s professors said he was truly gifted, and his potential was boundless.
Then hunters, working as agents of Satan, killed Cedric. Distraught with grief, Niobe set herself alight to summon Death and plead with him to take her life in Cedric’s stead. Perplexed, Death took Niobe to each of the Incarnations in turn, and they discovered that it was Niobe who was slated to die – Cedric had substituted himself, and Niobe was slated to thwart Satan.
Niobe arranged for Junior to be raised by her husband’s family, alongside his uncle Pacian, only twelve years his senior, and took over the position of Clotho, the youngest aspect of Fate.
I enjoyed this chapter of the Incarnation series more than the second – the interweaving of Niobe’s personal and Immortal lives was well done, the story is more complex, and the roles she plays as aspects of Fate were much better defined. Interestingly, in this book Chronos’ role is considerably more highlighted than in his own book – he is seen as the most powerful Incarnation, with great ability.
The common thread – that Luna Kaftan is destined to challenge Satan – is expanded upon, and her connection with the Incarnations is clarified. In addition to being affiliated with Thanatos she is intimately bound with Fate, and her story is inextricably intertwined with Niobe’s. – Alex

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