Characters from the Incarnations of Immortality

Characters from the Incarnations of Immortality

This article contains brief biographies for major characters from Piers Anthony's "Incarnations of Immortality" series. The protagonist of each book in the series, as well as some other major characters, are listed here.

The Incarnations

Zane

"On a Pale Horse" begins in the late twentieth century, perhaps circa 1980. Zane is a photographer with no money and no hope for a pleasant life when he decides to kill himself. After a magic-gem merchant tricks him into giving up his chance for a fulfilling romance with a wealthy, loyal woman for a useless Wealthstone, Zane is about to shoot himself when the grim spectre of Death enters his apartment. Terrified, Zane shoots Death instead, and the Incarnation of Fate arrives to tell him that he must assume the office. Zane becomes the new Thanatos and learns on the job about his helpful gems and his titular steed Mortis, who besides the typical form of Death's pale horse can also become a limousine, airplane or boat, always pale, depending on the situation. Zane explores his powers and duties, and with his Deathwatch inadvertently summons Chronos, the Incarnation of Time, who gives him further instruction. Zane sets out to collecting the souls of humans who are in such close balance of good and evil that they cannot find their eternal destination (generally either Heaven or Hell) alone; all other souls need only Death's general, overall approval. He realizes then that his own soul must be in such a balance for his predecessor to have come for him. He also learns about his new home in Purgatory and about those souls who are perfectly balanced and serve there for eternity.

Zane's first clients are less than successes; besides being late and allowing the dying person to suffer longer than necessary on more than one occasion, he tries to convince one woman to kill him and take his job before changing his mind, and rescues some people whom he feels do not need to die rather than collect their souls. He is horrified by the number of unnecessary, avoidable and even ridiculous deaths in the world, as well as by the system for judging good and evil (for example, an infant conceived of incest or rape is initially unable to attain Heaven before becoming an acting agent).

One of Zane's clients, a powerful Magician, informs Zane that it was he who ensured that Zane would become the next Incarnation of Death and sets him up with his daughter Luna, an artist who shares Zane's passion for auras and paints them around all her human subjects; she trusts her father enough not to worry even though he doesn't tell either of them why he has brought them together. To ensure that his soul was collected personally, the Magician put some of his evil on Luna's soul so his own would balance. Luna later reveals to Zane that she had sex with an incubus in order to learn more about her father's black magic, and is thus currently destined for Hell; Zane confesses that he used a penny curse to disable the machines that were keeping his mother alive against her will. The two grow closer by knowing each other intimately in this way.

While on a date at the Carnival of Ghosts, Zane learns both that there is a prophecy that Luna will save humanity from Satan in twenty years' time, and that she is slated to die in the next month. Zane hopes to stop this despite the typically difficult bureaucracy of Heaven/Hell relations, but the date of Luna's death comes before the next meeting. Knowing she must die, Luna chooses a noble death as a (physically, her only intercourse having been with a demon) virgin sacrifice to a dragon, saving both the slated young woman and the dragon's egg. This inadvertently balances her soul's good and evil, and the other Incarnations appear to inform Zane that he can refuse to collect her soul, thwarting Satan's plan—but until Satan gives in, nobody can die and there is immense suffering. They explain how duty would have compelled Zane's predecessor to take Luna's soul, but that Zane was chosen to fall in love with Luna so he would resist.

Armed with his scythe and knowledge given him by Gaea, the Incarnation of Nature, who demonstrated to him the absolute power of each Incarnation in his or her own sphere of influence, as well as the pros and cons of various patterns of thought, Zane defends himself in a battle against Satan's minions, coming to the conclusion that because his soul stays in balance during his trial period, he cannot die because nobody would collect his soul. Eventually Satan must call a draw, and Luna is allowed to live, thus thwarting any other attempts of Satan's to stop her by means of death. Zane and Luna continue their relationship, and Zane remains in his office.

Zane returns as the Incarnation of Death in all later novels, which all happen at least partly after the events of "On a Pale Horse". In "Bearing an Hourglass", he is shown to be still romantically involved with Luna, who is aging naturally while he ages slowly (only when not wearing his cloak and apparel).

Norton

Norton is first seen in "On a Pale Horse" as the Incarnation of Time, though it is not revealed to be him until the next book.In "Bearing an Hourglass", Norton is a man of about forty living a life of nomadic wandering perhaps twenty years after the events of "On a Pale Horse" (technology, for example, is shown to be more advanced by this time). He meets a ghost named Gawain who asks him to father a son by his wife Orlene to become his heir. The arrangement is strange, as Orlene, who married Gawain after his death, cannot see the ghost, who appears to urge Norton on in his endeavour. Norton and Orlene eventually fall in love, and she gives him a snake-ring (which he affectionately names Sning) which can answer his questions (mostly yes/no) by squeezing his finger. After some time they conceive a son. Gawain, aware of this, asks Gaea, the Incarnation of Nature, to give the child his own genetics so it can continue his bloodline. Unfortunately, this gives the child a disease that runs in Gawain's family, and he dies shortly after his birth. Orlene commits suicide in grief.

Gawain again approaches Norton, who is left with little direction in life and refuses to father a child with another woman, but this time the ghost comes with the proposition of becoming the Incarnation of Time, Chronos, to rule over all earthly aspects of time. This entails living backwards in time until the moment of his birth—or conception; presumably the officeholder knows, but it is never made clear in the books—which Gawain tells Norton will allow him to see Orlene, who is alive in the past. With this Norton accepts, and Gawain leads him to the place where Norton's predecessor, the future Incarnation of Time, hands him the powerful hourglass.

Norton immediately begins literally to live backwards in time, and by experimenting with his hourglass and asking Sning learns he can travel in time in either direction, halt time, and temporarily live forwards in time, in synch with mortals and the only instance in which they can sense him outside of his backwards mansion in Purgatory. He is visited by the Incarnation of Fate, who gives him some helpful information and co-operates with him in her work, fixing tangles in her threads of fate with the help of his hourglass, widely recognized as the most powerful magical device in the world.

Because Norton lives backwards in time, his past is everyone else's future, making him an isolated character even among the other Incarnations. He also realises that this will make it impossible to have a relationship with the forward-living Orlene. He does, however, have an affair with Clotho, the youngest aspect of Fate. This is both awkward and intriguing to Norton since her past is his future.

Satan visits Norton at his Purgatory residence, and explains that while Norton can travel through all of time on Earth, he (Satan) can transport around the entire universe because evil permeates all of reality. Twice he sends Norton to a distant galaxy where, he claims, time flows backwards, allowing Norton to live more normally and become involved in epic adventures. In return, Satan asks Norton to go back about 20 years and stop a man from committing suicide. Upon consulting with the other Incarnations Norton learns that this man is Zane (q.v.), and doing so would lead to Luna's premature death and Satan's triumph over humanity.

However, an amulet given Norton by Satan turns out to be a disguised demon, which set out and saved a politician from poisoning, thus preventing Luna from achieving her position as an American senator in the ensuing election. To return to this period in time again, Norton must approach it as close as possible (a few hours after the demon's deed was committed) and reverse all of time with him (known as the Drawkcab episode) until the correct moment. This proves difficult, but with the help of a woman comically known to Norton as Agleh (speech being heard in reverse to him), he succeeds in stopping the demon. In this modified reality, Helga later seeks forward-living mortal Norton and they start a relationship, though it does not interfere with his future with Gawain and Orlene.

Thwarted, Satan traps Norton in the backwards world he had earlier visited. Unsure of what to do, he joins in the adventure, and soon learns that this is a fabrication. He finds help from the only character who can explain paradoxes beyond what Norton already knew, thus one who knew the true nature of their world, and by travelling to the extremities of time, Norton realizes that he has been tricked; a demon on his hourglass was reversing the colours, and in reality Norton was simply in a play staged by Satan's debtors, never having left Earth.

The demon on the hourglass disembarks two years after the events of "On a Pale Horse", trying again to stop Luna from running for office. Norton heads over there and uses his hourglass to show the world what will happen if Luna isn't elected. He also tortures the angered Satan by forcing him to live backwards for a while, thus stopping the Adversary from trying to trick him furthermore.

Norton returns in his office in the later books, and in "And Eternity" re-encounters the ghost of Orlene, giving her a grain from the hourglass for her mission. When God is dismissed and an election is called among the Incarnations, Norton is summoned with this grain, as the Chronos at the time already knows the future and wishes not to interfere with the other Incarnations' decision.

Niobe

Niobe is first seen in "Bearing an Hourglass" as Lachesis, an aspect of Fate, but it is not revealed to be her until the next book.

In "With a Tangled Skein", Niobe is a proud, beautiful young Irishwoman (around 21) who is forced to marry the teenaged (perhaps 16) Cedric Kaftan because so many men are off fighting in World War I. She considers him too immature for her and at first hates the marriage, but Cedric's good nature, kind-heartedness, and desire to please his wife win her over, and she soon falls in love with him. She learns that Cedric is brilliant and talented and encourages him to attend college and hone his magical abilities. During this time their son, known only as Junior, is born.

Some time later Cedric returns home hastily and one morning, when he is out with Junior at their favourite tree (the home of a friendly hamadryad), he is shot and killed. A grief-stricken Niobe learns that the assassination was plotted by Satan and meant for her, but that Cedric learned of it and took her place; Niobe resolves to make Satan pay for this.

She is invited to become Clotho, an aspect of the Incarnation of Fate; here it is explicitly revealed (for the first time in the series) that Fate is three women sharing one physical body. Eager to thwart Satan's plans and to avenge Cedric, Niobe agrees, first leaving her child with Cedric's cousin. The three Fates weave the tapestry of life: Clotho, the youngest, spins the threads from the substance of Void; Lachesis, usually middle-aged, measures the threads and places them in the tapestry; and Atropos, the oldest, cuts the thread of each individual human.

Niobe's other duties include having an affair with Chronos, the Incarnation of Time, and journeying alone into the area where resides the Void to replenish her supply. Here she encounters Satan, who explains how the whole of existence is simply to determine the winner of the battle between good and evil based on the number of souls won by each side at the end of time. At all other times, though, Niobe is aided by Lachesis and Atropos, and the latter allows her to visit her son and his cousin Pacian in the guise of a family friend, without arousing suspicion about Niobe's unchanging age. One day, the Fates take the two boys to a fortune teller, who gives a strange and disturbing prophecy: that each of the boys will marry the most beautiful woman of her generation and bear a daughter who will oppose a tangle in the threads of life, but that one of the daughters will marry Death, and the other Evil. A second fortune teller predicts that one of the boys will be the saviour of deer, his daughter the saviour of man, and that the other will love an Incarnation while his daughter will be one.

Pacian reaches adulthood and marries Blanche, a kind but plain woman, thus defying the prophecy. Their daughter Blenda, however, is fantastically beautiful. In time, Niobe's son, now known as the Magician, marries Blenda. A demon appears at the wedding to kill one of them; the Magician protects them, but the demon kills Blanche instead. Meanwhile, the Magician has fulfilled another part of the prophecy by realizing his father's dream of creating a spell that protects deer from hunters and land developers, enabling them to 'shoot back'.

Some time later, Niobe finds in Pacian a love similar to that she has for Cedric, and after thirty-eight years as Clotho she re-becomes a mortal to marry him (so that he also marries the most beautiful woman of her generation). Within a week of each other, she gives birth to a daughter, Orb, while Blenda gives birth to a daughter, Luna—so named because they are as similar as two twin moons. The two girls grow up together under the Magician's protection, and develop incredible talents. As they mature, Satan begins to attack them—he is uninterested in a wife who is not evil—but Niobe protects them.

One year after the events of "On a Pale Horse", Niobe, now middle-aged and again widowed, is asked to join the Incarnation of Fate once again, this time as Lachesis. Satan has arranged simultaneous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for each of the aspects of Fate, hoping to take advantage of their successors' inexperience; the current office-holders hope to use Niobe's previous experience as aspect of Fate to trick Satan into thinking he has succeeded without allowing his plan to come to fruition.

They learn that Satan plans to cause political turmoil in the United Nations by having one of his minions plant a stink-bomb; they investigate potential culprits, but this turns out to be a waste of time. Satan also asks Niobe, whom he does not yet recognize, to stop one of Niobe Kaftan's descendents from working in politics; the Magician, however, had made sure the girls swapped hair colours, so that Niobe keeps her promise by keeping Orb out of politics, where she was never fated to go anyway. At this point she mentions something more than Satan had, and he recognizes her. This was only a red herring; Satan's real plan was to give renewed youth to some aging politicians, allowing them to start over in their careers with plenty of experience, while vacating their positions to be filled by Satan's minions. The inexperienced Fate seek the Magician to help them, but Satan has manipulated him into Hell. He cannot prevent Niobe from searching for her son, but he can make the quest very unpleasant and she must risk her own soul in the process. Niobe calls upon the Incarnation of War to supervise the contest and ensure it is a fair one.

Niobe leaves the Fates' collective body and goes to Hell, where she must travel through a maze full of illusions and beasts. She has one hundred threads, which dispel illusions and (at a cost of two threads) revive her if she runs into an actual danger; Satan has placed one hundred illusions. She travels through a labyrinth, down a snowy slope, through a factory of murderous machinery and across the river Lethe, whereafter demons disguised as Cedric, Pacian, Blanche and Blenda appear to try to trick her. She makes it to the final chamber by remembering a puzzle Pacian taught her, and finds that Satan has disguised the Magician among twelve identical demons. Following another puzzle of Pacian's, Niobe is able to isolate her son and learns that it is Atropos, whose reckless and dangerous cutting short of some people's threads may mess with fate but can ultimately stop any of Satan's plots. Satan is forced to let her go free and cancel his plans.

Niobe returns in later books in her role as Lachesis, which she holds at least as far as the end of "And Eternity". She is particularly active in "Being a Green Mother", where she advices her daughter Orb on her new duties as the Incarnation of Nature and on the plans of Satan. Throughout her tenure as Lachesis Niobe is seen as the "senior" aspect of Fate, first because of her prior experience as Clotho and later because she serves longer than the Clotho and Atropos who join her after the triple change-over.

Mym

Mym first appears in "Bearing an Hourglass" as the Incarnation of War, though it is not revealed to be him until two books later. He explains to Norton the five fundamental interactions: strong, electromagnetic, weak, gravitation and magic.

In "Wielding a Red Sword", Pride of the Kingdom is an Indian prince who has humiliated his father because he has a stutter that makes speaking very difficult for him. His father arranges his marriage, but he escapes and joins a traveling circus. Here he meets Orb, a singer who teaches him to speak in song, effectively overcoming his stutter. The two fall in love, and he gives her a magical snake-ring; but soon thereafter Mym (a name he picked up at the circus and by which he is known throughout the book) is found and brought back to his father. He agrees to wed a princess named Rapture of Malachite if they fall in love after thirty days spent in his father's honeymoon home; upon arriving there, though, they learn that they can hear each other's thoughts whenever they are on the property, and they soon realize that they are worth each other's love, and concede happily.

Later, the political situation in India shifts, and Mym learns that his father has chosen a bride from another kingdom for Mym; so when Gaea, the Incarnation of Nature, approaches him with the offer of becoming the Incarnation of War, he accepts and takes Rapture with him, and their closest servants assume their forms and continue their duties.

Mym and Rapture take up residence in War's castle in Purgatory, where they encounter his companions, a spin on the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, Pestilence, Famine, and Slaughter. Mym begins his duties of supervising the world's wars, allowing conflicts to be resolved without getting out of hand. (Satan, unsurprisingly, is trying to do the opposite so that the balance of the world shifts in favour of evil, and hopes to take advantage of Mym's inexperience to accomplish this.)

After some time Rapture, who must spend some time in the world of mortals, falls in love with another man and leaves Mym. Satan first offers Mym his experienced demoness Lilith, then the fresher Lilah. Mym refuses, and insteads seeks the captured princess Ligeia. This turns out to be a trap of Satan's, and Mym's soul is caught in Hell with Ligeia's, while his body rests on earth. Mym suspects Ligeia of being another form of the same demoness Satan offered him in different forms, and reads her mind; because he has no body, though, she sees into his mind just as much, and the two learn each other's secrets in a moment. Mym uses lessons from his favourite book, Miyamoto Musashi's "The Book of Five Rings", to lead the occupants of Hell in a rebellion and to defeat Satan one-on-one. He escapes with Ligeia and resumes his duties.

During this time, however, Satan has manipulated the international situation to a point where tensions are higher than ever before, and if war should break out (which would be likely since almost every nation has adopted martial law), it would likely bring about the Apocalypse. This change is world politics invalidates any power of Luna Kaftan's, the American senator whose fate was to thwart Satan's conquest.

Mym realizes, as in previous books, that each Incarnation has the greatest power in his or her own sphere of influence, beyond that even of Satan. In keeping with this, he travels to a physical manifestation of the Doomsday Clock, which sits at three minutes to midnight. He threatens to escalate world conflict to bring about the Last Judgment and end of the world. The trick is that the balance of souls in the world is currently in favour of good, so God would triumph over Satan. Satan withdraws, and Mym returns the world to a relative peace. It is at this point that Mym realizes his ultimate purpose as Mars, not to heighten or lower conflict, but to regulate it and ensure that conflicts are handled fairly. After the conflict with Satan is resolved, Gaea removes Mym's stutter permanently. Mym marries Ligeia, a more suitable wife as she is dead and can reside in Purgatory with him indefinitely, and understands the ways of royalty; and Lilah, who has also fallen in love with Mym as well, serves as his entire harem, which is an arrangement that all three like.

Mym reappears in "Being a Green Mother", where his and Orb's story is retold from her perspective. He appears more briefly in "For Love of Evil", and in "And Eternity" is visited along with the other Incarnations as part of Orlene's quest.

Orb

Orb first appears in "Bearing an Hourglass" as the Incarnation of Nature; she has taken the form of a middle-aged woman, though she does not age normally.

In "With a Tangled Skein", Orb and Luna grow up together and acquire their gifts to further their gifts. Nothing is yet described of Orb's adult years.

Orb is a character in "Wielding a Red Sword", but the same story is retold from her point of view in her own book.

In "Being a Green Mother", Orb is a young girl who discovers the natural music of the forest, which her father Pacian teaches her about. Orb's talent in singing, and her cousin (ostensibly, though technically her niece) Luna's talent in seeing auras, are honed by the teaching of a hamadryad that had previously looked after Luna's father (the Magician) in his infancy. Orb's mother Niobe helps the girls acquire a harp and paintbrush that will help them enhance their skills.

In adulthood, Orb sets out to find the Llano, a magical song supposed to be the most beautiful imaginable. She travels to Basque country, where she meets Nicolai, Gypsie elder, and Tinka, his blind daughter who due to her handicap is considered unmarriable. Orb teaches her music and dance, transforming her into a beautiful young woman and winning the favour of the Gypsie community. Next she travels to India, the original homeland of the Gypsies, and joins a travelling circus. Here she meets and falls in love with Mym, teaching him to sing his speech so as not to stutter. After he is taken back to his father, Orb learns she is carrying his child, and after her daughter is born, she leaves the child (with Mym's snake-ring) with Tinka, trusting her to find a suitable family. Tinka leaves the girl with a wealthy American tourist family with no children of their own.

Thanatos, the Incarnation of Death, introduces Orb to a band he had met early in his career, three drug-addicted rock and roll musicians and Lou-Mae, an African-American singer. Together with Orb, they begin to tour and join in her search for the Llano. They inhabit Jonah, an enormous magical fish, and Orb hires Jezebel, a succubus who is middle-aged by day but young and beautiful by night, for housecleaning purposes. Over time, each finds romance: the three band members start relationships with Lou-Mae, Jezebel, and a fan named Betsy who joins the travellers and works as secretary when they begin to receive fan mail.

Orb's romance is different. Due to the prophecy that her daughter will marry Satan (indeed, all other parts of it have already been fulfilled), Niobe, now Lachesis, warns Orb to be wary of his attempts to capture her, and gives her a two-part song from Gaea, the Incarnation of Nature, to defend herself. Satan comes to her singing two parts of a song to seduce her; Orb sings one part of the counter-melody, and is joined by a young man named Natasha singing the other half. Natasha has learned parts of the Llano himself, and helps Orb in her search. She realizes that other songs she has learned—the song of the river from her youth, Satan's song of seduction, the song of negation—are all parts of the Llano. However, Orb's companions are skeptical of her new lover, particularly Jezebel, who recalls that the name Natasha has been used by Satan. Natasha helps them in a time of crisis and undergoes several tests proving he is not an entity of evil, but the next morning Jezebel (who, being a demon, does not dream) doesn't remember any of it.

Meanwhile, Orb has been approached by Gaea and offered her position. Realizing the power of the Llano, she assumes the position and uses the music in her duties. She finds herself completely in love with Natasha, and accepts his proposal. At this point he reveals that he is in fact Satan in disguise ("Natasha" read backwards is "Ah, Satan") and that he has made an agreement with Fate: he may court Orb without the other Incarnations interfering, but everything he says must be a lie (or part of a greater construct of lies) until his marriage proposal, when he must reveal the truth. Even Orb's previous meetings with each of the Incarnations, even her mother and Mym, the new Incarnation of War, were staged by Satan with disguised demons playing the parts.

Orb refuses to wed Evil, and insists he teach her the final part of the Llano, the Song of Chaos, so that her power can be complete. He sings it, producing no effect; he informs her that nothing will happen unless Gaea herself sings it, which will produce disastrous and unpredictable effects. She sings it once and rain storms attack the world; twice, and great hurricanes and other storms arise in every land. She travels everywhere trying to save her friends, keeping them safe through the turmoil. She sings the Song a third time, mixed with the song of negation; global temperature lower dramatically. Frustrated, she sings it a fourth time, and the Earth is so shaken, it violently destroys all life.

The Incarnations gather and Orb learns that her power was in tune with the five elements—Water, Air, Fire (negated, so cold instead of heat), and Earth—and singing it a fifth time will turn all of Creation into Void, the fifth element, thus returning everything to primal chaos. Knowing this is her ultimate weapon, Orb stops, and Chronos agrees to return to the time just before Orb first sang the Song of Chaos and warn her, but doing so requires the consent of all the other Incarnations. Satan will agree only if Orb will marry him; she knows she loves him, and so agrees. Chronos stops her from singing the Song of Chaos, and Orb grimly prepares for her wedding in Hell.

The lovers sing to each other at their wedding; Orb sings the Song of Love from the Llano, while Satan, to everyone's surprise, sings "Amazing Grace". After singing the hymn, he vanishes, being unable to sing a heavenly song while being the Incarnation of Evil.

Orb's and Satan's love affair and marriage are described from Parry's (Satan's) point of view in "For Love of Evil". Here we learn that Satan truly does love Orb and is not simply seeking to corrupt all of humankind by the union of Evil and Nature. After the wedding, when Parry is suffering in Hell, Orb takes the drop of blood in which Jolie resides, allowing Parry's wives to live together. In "And Eternity", they share a body when they make love to Parry.

Parry

Parry appears as Satan in every book. In the first book, "On a Pale Horse", Zane comes to the conclusion that Satan is an incarnation, D-evil, or of evil as God is the incarnation of Good (also possibly at the end of "Being a Green Mother")

In "For Love of Evil", Parry is an orphan in Medieval France who is adopted and taught white magic, the purpose of which is to help others, by a local wizard. His father encourages Parry, aged perhaps fifteen, to take a wife, and he chooses the peasant girl Jolie, recognizing her potential. She is very fearful of him, expecting upon his invitation to be abused, but he wins her over with kindness and his amazing singing talents. Jolie joins in the magic tutelage, and she and Parry fall in love and marry. Shortly after their wedding, however, the area is attacked by Christian soldiers fighting in the Albigensian Crusade; the sorcerer is killed, and Parry escapes in the form of a bird while Jolie goes to warn her family. Both are captured, and a Captain plans to rape Jolie; Parry rescues her, but she is wounded and he is ill-equipped and unable to save her. Thanatos, the Incarnation of Death, arrives and declares that because her death is linked to a great evil to come, Jolie must stay on earth at least until it comes to be. He allows Parry to take a drop of her blood on his wrist so that she may follow him and inhabit the stain.

Parry hides from the crusaders by joining the Franciscan Order, where he practices his piety and his singing, and enjoys the company of Jolie's ghost. Later, though, he hears of the new Dominican Order, whose intent is to root out evil and heresy. Parry keenly joins the group and excels due to his adept nature and secretly used white magic.

Parry learns from the heretics he works with of Lucifer's greatest plan: to ravage Europe, the centre of Christianity, with an invasion from the Mongols' Great Horde. Parry and Jolie ensure that the Horde turns around and retreats in time, but during the mission Jolie convinces Parry to let her inhabit a willing young woman so they can consummate their marriage, violating Parry's oath of celibacy. Lucifer takes advantage of this opportunity by sending the demoness Lilah (also known as Lilith) to corrupt Parry. Using his feelings of guilt and playing on his sexual desire, Lilah succeeds in corrupting Parry, who in turn corrupts the Inquisition itself, seeking to lead people to evil rather than deter them from it. Throughout this period, Jolie refuses to interact with Parry and remains dormant in the stain on his wrist.

After many years, Parry is on his deathbed, and Lucifer comes in person to watch him die. Provoked, he attacks Lilah, but Parry parries, sending Lucifer, off guard, to Hell. Quickly, Lilah urges Parry to claim the office, choose a name from among a list and decide upon a form to assume. Unsure what she means, he chooses the form of himself at age 25 and the name Satan—and becomes the next Incarnation of Evil.

Parry first must regain control of Hell from the head demons by finding the curse that destroys demons. None of his predecessors (Lucifer, Asmodeus and Mephistopheles are named) will tell him, so he seeks out Nox, the Incarnation of Night. She points him to Ozymandias, the only human to have researched the subject successfully. Parry finds Ozymandias' soul in Hell, and with help from Chronos, the Incarnation of Time and the only Incarnation on good terms with him, he shows the ancient king a poem written about him. This wins over Ozymandias' heart, and he tells Parry that there is no such spell. Parry realizes that demons simply vanish out of fear when their master starts muttering, and that the senior demons will have to obey him once he has this knowledge or all of Hell will be tumultuous pandemonium.

Parry is humiliated by Gaea, Incarnation of Nature, so when she is replaced he tricks her successor by unleashing the Bubonic Plague, which she is unready to handle. From this, though, he learns that things that appear good or bad may be the opposite (the Inquisition began to root out evil and ended up promoting it; the Plague killed many people but paved the way for cultural and economic reform across Europe). Parry spares Poland from the brunt of the Plague when a young girl shows him her country's suffering; he realizes after that Jolie had helped her, but still she does not manifest herself to him.

Ironically, Parry is not actually evil, but uses temptation to test people and try to keep the good from falling into evil. To this effect, he is perhaps the most effective Incarnation of Evil at sending souls to their most suited destination. However, Parry is not immune to evil; he has affairs with Lilah and Nefertiti. Lilah warns him early on that he will eventually tire of her, as have all his predecessors—the result for Lucifer was his sending her to Parry, and thus his downfall. Parry refuses this, but it comes true nonetheless, and he loses her permanently when he sends her to Mym and she never returns.

Unsatisfied with the standards defining good and evil (as Zane was in "On a Pale Horse"), Parry visits Heaven and approaches God, finding him to be entirely introspective and inactive. Parry consults with the Archangel Gabriel, who agrees to a contest: if Satan is able to corrupt a specific influential individual or her immediate descendents so that the balance of the world shifts to evil, he will win the power to determine good and evil that is currently held by God. The individual is revealed to be Niobe Kaftan who will appear in the early twentieth century—thus buying six hundred years for Heaven.

Narration is sparse until this time, when Lucifer, now another damned soul working for Satan, first tries to have Niobe assassinated; later Satan tries to corrupt her by inspiring doubt in her after she has taken the role of Clotho, the youngest aspect of the Incarnation of Fate. He is aware of the prophecy concerning her descendants, his targets, and that he will marry either Pacian's or the Magician's daughter. Several scenes from the previous books are shown again, reinterpreted to show Parry's will not to corrupt but to evoke evil in mortals, with some of the most wicked acts being the works of others for which Satan must take credit to maintain his image and position.

Until the twentieth century, Parry remained on good terms with Chronos, but one officeholder, in the twentieth century, is from the beginning even more hateful toward Satan than most Incarnations. Parry also befriends YHWH, the Hebrew god. After World War II YHWH is agonized by his people's suffering, so Parry taunts Chronos, claiming to have destroyed an entire people. Enraged, Chronos, who lives backwards, prevents the Shoah; rather than the Nazis taking power, the Holy Roman Empire is re-formed, and the genocide never happens. (The comparative abundance of Gypsies in other books can also be seen as a result of this.)

Parry's meddling with the Kaftans culminates in his attempted corruption of Orb, which turns into love on both sides. When she assumes the office of Gaea, he proposes to her, and after a disastrous rebellion on her part that Chronos (Norton) undoes, she agrees. However, Parry realizes that he loves a good woman, and that he could never corrupt her. At their wedding, he sings "Amazing Grace", which doubles not only as his expression of love but as his abdication of office. He winds up in the tormentuous fires of Hell, where Orb appears to take the blood stain, and Jolie, from him to be with her.

Niobe, who by now is a sort of representative of the five Incarnations, appears to tell Satan that since nobody claimed his office, a greedy, lecherous pig, the most evil person in the world, has become the Incarnation of Evil. However, he is despicable and ineffectual, and everybody prefers Satan. Niobe gives Parry a thread to escape, and when he loses it Nox shows her support by returning it to him. Parry confronts his successor, and though the new Evil is more powerful, he stands alone as he is not through his 30-day trial period and has not yet learned the trick of the curse. Parry tricks him and destroys him, re-claiming the office.

In "And Eternity", Jolie shares Orb's body when they make love to Natasha. Satan is visited as part of Orlene's quest, and he makes a bet with Nox, offering Orlene an easy way to retrieve her baby if she will ask Luna to sit out the crucial upcoming vote. (Luna and Orlene are both Niobe's granddaughters.) Because of Orlene's noble intentions, Satan loses the bet with Nox, so when the Incarnations confer to choose a new Incarnation of Good, Satan's vote belongs to Nox, and on her behalf Parry nominates Orlene, whom nobody can oppose.

Orlene

Orlene is the child of Mym and Orb, as revealed in "Being a Green Mother". Orb left the child with her friend Tinka, who gave Orlene to an American couple, tourists in the area. In "Bearing an Hourglass", Orlene is an adult. She has married Gawain the ghost, but the only purpose of this is to produce him an heir, and she is understandably less than happy. Also, because they married after his death, Orlene cannot see her husband, only the men he brings home, and she doesn't even believe Gawain exists. Gawain produces Norton to father the child, and Orlene takes him into their home. They grow to love each other, and Orlene gives Norton the snake-ring she received from her birth mother as a puzzle. She also shares with him her ability to see auras, which she shares with her cousin Luna. They have a son, but it dies in infancy, and Orlene commits suicide in grief.

In "And Eternity", Orlene's ghost is sinking to Hell because she feels responsible for her son's death, but Jolie, who has been watching after her at Parry's behest, holds her up. She keeps Orlene at the home of Gaea, the Incarnation of Nature, who is not aware that Jolie's companion is her daughter, having decided years earlier not to use her powers to watch over the daughter she has left behind.

Jolie and Orlene travel to the domain of Nox, the Incarnation of Night, who is looking after Orlene's child in the afterlife; having been conceived of an extramarital affair, the infant cannot go to Heaven. Nox teaches her about the passions of man by transforming Orlene's body into that of a male; she is unable to control the foreign impluses or to stop herself from ravishing Jolie. Nox restores Orlene's form and gives her a list of things to acquire, one from each Incarnation, that will allow her to restore her son's life.

Jolie is asked to look after Vita, a fourteen-year-old drug-addicted prostitute, so she and Orlene inhabit her body and help her to kick her addiction early and escape her pimp. They meet a judge named Roque Scott and help him to sort the guilty from the innocent using Orlene's ability to see auras. They also meet Orlene's ostensible aunt Luna, a successful senator whose time to save mankind is approaching. Vita and Scott begin to fall in love, although her being a minor makes this technically evil.

The three women first visit Thanatos, the Incarnation of Death, who is in fact Luna's love Zane. Orlene needs a clean soul, and Zane offers that of a newborn baby left to die. Orlene goes to take it, but instead delivers the child to safety, to Thanatos' approval. Next they visit Chronos, the Incarnation of Time, to ask for time for the child's life; Orlene is surprised to find that the new occupant is her lover Norton, gives her the chance to change their past so they can remain together. She learns to accept that the past is here irreversible, and Norton gives her a grain of sand from his hourglass. Next the women visit the Incarnation of Fate, led by Niobe as Lachesis, who is struggling through a tangle, to ask for a new thread for Orlene's child. Orlene thinks of Nicolai, the Gypsie who helped her mother years before, and the elder is able to help solve the problem. He then replaces Atropos, who has cut her own thread short in order to save her daughter from an abusive husband. Fate promises Orlene the Thread, and the women return to earth, where two years have passed for their two days in Purgatory. Nox puts them through a test to debate between evolution and creationism, and they conclude that the two are compatible.

With Jolie and Vita, Orlene returns to Purgatory to visit Mym, the Incarnation of War and her biological father. To win a seed of violence to make her son a man, Orlene must accompany him on a mission, where she learns about the suffering of war. Next she visits her mother Orb, who is Gaea, to ask for a tear. Gaea sends them to help a young woman who, like so many others, is careless about sex, to find a solution to world overpopulation. She is captured by a rapist, but Jolie reads his memories and stops him by telling him a story of a young woman much like his own lost sister, Lauren, in the hopes that he will see her in all women. It almost works, but he revolts near the end, and the girl escapes by attacking his genitals. Orb asks if removing love will solve the problem, but Orlene concludes that while it might, it would make life unbearable. This answer satisfies Gaea, who gives the tear that will reanimate Orlene's son's new soul.

On their journey to Hell to get a fear of evil from Satan (actually Orlene's stepfather Parry), the Incarnation of Evil offers to retrieve Orlene's child for her if she will ask Luna to sit out the upcoming vote that will determine the fate of the world. Orlene considers, but knows that she cannot sacrifice the happiness of others for her own, so she declines, even though Satan tells her she will have her child simply for asking, whatever Luna's ultimate decision. Satan reveals that he had taken a bet with Nox, and that Orlene's turning down the offer means Satan owes something to Nox. He then asks them to convince a damned soul to confess all of his sins so his punishments will be complete. The soul in question is Kane, the castrated rapist, who agrees to comply when they find his sister's soul and allow them to be reunited for short but regular periods. Satan is satisfied. On their way out, the women spot a man who is suffering for the sins of children he accidentally killed, and Orlene helps him to progress to the next punishment with an unexplained power.

By this point, Orlene has concluded, in agreement with each of the other Incarnations, that the world's problems (the impending World War Three, overpopulation, and the injustice in classifying and punishing souls) can only be solved if God, the Incarnation of Good, steps up and does what He is supposed to. Orlene plans to ask Him in Heaven, as well as to ask for His blessing for her child's restoration to life. Here Orlene learns that God is introspective, seeing his own goodness and not the imperfections of the world. Orlene returns home having reached the same conclusion as all of the Incarnations: that the standards for judging good and evil are flawed. Two more years have passed on earth, and Vita is now a legal adult and able to marry Scott.

Luna leads a campaign to impeach God because of his failure to fulfill his duties, and despite Satan's efforts to stop her, she casts the deciding vote that vacates the office of the Incarnation of Good. The Incarnations meet to decide on a new Deity; all six must agree on a candidate. (Chronos steps down because he already knows the future, but Norton is summoned with the grain of sand he gave Orlene, so he represents Time.) Zane, Norton, Niobe, Mym and Orb each nominate a human in turn (Orb's bid is for Roque Scott), but Satan vetoes each. He reveals the wager for his bet with Nox about Orlene was the vote of Evil, so Parry, in her stead, nominates Orlene, whose soul's balance is due to actions that none of them can condemn as evil—Jolie calls her "a bastard, an adulteress, a rapist, and a suicide". Nobody can disagree, either because of personal connections or because they disagree with the "sins" Orlene stands for, and so Orlene becomes the new Goddess, thus allowing the reforms wished by all the other characters throughout the series to come to be.

Other Major Characters

Luna

Luna Kaftan was born to the Magician and Blenda; her grandparents are Cedric and Niobe Kaftan on her father's side, and Pacian and Blanche Kaftan on her mother's. She was born within a week of Orb, who is her aunt and second cousin. A prophecy said that the two girls would marry Death and Evil, so Satan tried to attack the girls in their youth. After her mother's death, Luna moved with her father from Ireland to the American town of Kilvarough, where Zane would also end up.

Luna is able to see people's auras, and she paints them in her art. Her father does not tell her about his magic, but Luna worries about him, so she summons an incubus and allows it to "lie upon" her in return for knowledge of black magic. Her father is unaware of this and assumes his daughter's soul is destined for Heaven, so he feels safe in transferring some of his soul's evil to her soul in order to balance his own soul and summon Thanatos, the Incarnation of Death, personally for his demise.

In "On a Pale Horse", the magician offers Luna to Zane, the new Death, but does not tell either of them why. Luna trusts her father enough to go along with his plan, and in time falls in love with Zane. He loves her, too, so he is shocked to find both that she is fated to save the world from Satan in twenty years' time, and that she is going to die within the month. Luna is coming to terms with her early demise and asks Zane to continue their dates without letting it ruin their remaining time together.

Luna knows that the evil on her soul has set her irrevocably towards Hell. When her day to die comes, she chooses her own death by standing in as a (physically) virgin sacrifice for a dragon. However, her saving the other virgin girl, feeding the endangered dragon and sparing its precious egg balance the evil on her soul, and she cannot die until Zane himself takes her soul. The other Incarnations warn him that he can refuse to take her soul, but he cannot let anyone else die until he does. Eventually Zane forces Satan to relinquish, and Luna is protected from premature death thenceforth.

A couple of years later, Luna enters politics and elected to office; about a decade later, the senator in her state is accidentally poisoned, and in the hastily-arranged election Luna takes his office. Satan asks the new Incarnation of Fate, whom he does not recognize is Niobe, to stop the darker-haired of Niobe Kaftan's girls from entering politics; however, the Magician had foreseen this and asked Luna to die her fair hair dark, so Niobe agrees based on the hair colours she remembers and can keep her promise without interfering with the prophecy. When Norton becomes Chronos, the Incarnation of Time, Satan takes advantage of his inexperience to try to thwart Luna both times, first by neutralizing the poison so that Luna's only chance at election never comes, then by running a smear campaign to stop her from entering politics at all. However, Norton is able to mend his mistakes on both counts. Satan also tries to upset world politics so that martial law makes Luna's position obsolete, but Mym, the new Incarnation of War, is able to reverse the effect.

In her early forties, after Orlene has seen God's inactiveness, Luna starts a campaign on earth to have Him removed from office. Satan tries one last time to stop her, but her decisive vote vacates the office of the Incarnation of Good. Throughout all of her reappearances (in all seven books, in fact) her relationship with Zane is ongoing.

Junior/The Magician

In "With a Tangled Skein", Niobe gives birth to a son, who is only referred to as 'Junior'. He has inherited some of his father's natural magic, and as an infant his parents often bring him to a nearby tree where a hamadryad looks after him. It is at this spot that Cedric is shot, and he dies soon after. When Niobe accepts the position of Clotho, an aspect of the Incarnation of Fate, she leaves her son with the family of Cedric's cousin Pacian. The two boys grow up together and are often looked after by grandmotherly Atropos so that Niobe can see her son. Once, the boys hear their fortunes and learn that they will each marry the most beautiful women of their generations and that their two daughters will marry Death and Evil.

When he grows up, Niobe's son is known as the Magician, as he has acquired great power through black magic. He marries Pacian's daughter Blenda, who is indeed very beautiful, and their daughter is Luna. After Blenda's death, the Magician and Luna move from Ireland to the United States of America, to a town named Kilvarough. Here he continued his practice of black magic, becoming one of the most powerful magicians in the world. He foresees the plot against his daughter Luna and the important part she would play in the world's salvation, as well as researching the role of the Incarnation of Fate.

When they discover that Satan has also discovered Luna's significance and will try to stop her, the Magician and Fate arrange for Zane to become the new Incarnation of Death, with each Incarnation contributing to the effort. Finally, in order to meet Zane once before his death, the Magician transfers some of his evil to Luna's soul, unaware of her own great evil, so that his soul would be in balance between good and evil and Death will attend him personally. After setting Zane and Luna up together, the Magician is taken to Purgatory, where he is given an extremely complex form to fill out to determine his ultimate destination.

Some time later, Satan claims the Magician's soul for Hell to stop him from giving the new officeholders of Fate, including his mother Niobe, crucial information about how Atropos can stop the forces of evil. Niobe journeys into Hell through a puzzle created by Satan and overseen by the Incarnation of War. She succeeds and the Magician is able to help her come to the correct conclusion. After this, the Magician's soul presumably remains in Hell, although it is possible he is allowed into Heaven when his niece Orlene becomes the Incarnation of Good (Goddess).

Jolie

Jolie is a peasant girl born in Medieval France in the same village as Parry. He notices her potential despite her ignorance, and he takes her into his father's home to teach her white magic. The two fall in love and marry, but a few years later Jolie is killed by Christan soldiers in the Albigensian Crusade. Thanatos, the Incarnation of Death, shows up and tells Parry that Jolie's death is linked to a great evil in the future, and that she cannot pass on to Heaven at least until it comes to pass. He allows Parry to take a drop of her blood on his wrist so that her ghost can go with him.

Jolie's ghost begins to manifest herself to Parry, and remains his companion when he becomes a Franciscan friar, and when he switches to the Dominican Order. At one point Mongols are about to invade Europe when their Great Khan dies, and Jolie inhabits the body of a willing woman to help Parry ensure that the message passes to the troops so that they withdraw and Europe is saved. Still in the woman's body, Jolie persuades Parry to sleep with her. Later, though, Lilah, a demoness, shows up to tempt and corrupt Parry, using his sexual desires and guilty conscience to turn him from good. Jolie, disgusted that Parry complies, hides in the blood stain, refusing to manifest herself.

After Parry assumes the office of Satan, Jolie remains absent. When the Bubonic Plague is ravaging Europe, a Polish girl asks Satan to spare her country; he agrees because she looks so much like Jolie, and realizes afterwards that she must have had a hand in it. Still, she will not show herself to him, and he largely forgets her.

After Satan is deposed, his new wife, Orb, the Incarnation of Nature, visits him in Hell and wordlessly takes the blood stain onto her own wrist. Jolie is later seen working for Gaea, looking after certain people such as Orlene—though this is at Parry's request rather than Orb's. Like Orb, Jolie comes to realize that Parry is not evil, but simply fulfilling his role and distinguishing good and evil; she even considers him a candidate for the Incarnation of Good, as she knows he would do a good job, but is not so foolish as to think that the other Incarnations would agree. Jolie shares Orb's body when the two of them consummate their marriages with Parry.

In "And Eternity", Jolie stays with Orlene and Vita throughout, often acting as leader and standing out as the most resourceful and well-connected of the three. Having grown up in a Catholic setting, she defends creationism in the debate given them by Nox. After the story it is possible that she ascends to Heaven, or that she stays with Orb.

Lilah

Lilah is a demoness that serves the Incarnation of Evil. Although she usually uses the name Lilah, she is in fact the demon Lilith, Adam's first wife. When she was rejected and replaced with Eve, she grew spiteful and took the form of a serpent to tempt Eve and bring about Adam and Eve's fall. She has worked for and played lover to many Incarnations of Evil, including Samael and Beelzebub, for whom she tempted Judas Iscariot; however, she recalls that each one of them tires of her eventually.

Lucifer, having grown tired of her in this way, sends her to corrupt Parry after he breaks his vow of celibacy. She uses his guilt and sexual desire to break him, and he corrupts the Inquisition to increase rather than decrease evil in the world. When Lucifer tries to claim Parry the first time, Parry protects himself and Lilah, and her favour switches to his side.

When Lucifer shows up to collect the dying Parry, Lilah provokes him and he prepares to send her to eternal torment in Hell. Parry deflects the attack, and Lucifer, caught off guard, succombs instead. Lilah urges Parry to claim his office, which he does, unaware of what it means. In this way, he becomes Satan with Lilah as his guide.

Parry continues his affair with Lilah for some time, but eventually he tires of her and tries other consorts, such as Nefertiti. Eventually he sends Lilah to Mym, the new Incarnation of War, to corrupt him (first in the guise of Lilith, then as Lila). Mym at first is repulsed by her, but he grows to love her, and she learns to love him as well, proving her loyalty by telling him how to foil Satan's plot. Even after Mym takes Ligeia as his wife, Lilah serves as his harem (using her ability to take many forms)—an arrangement all three find ideal. Lilah is thus permanently lost to Satan.

Other Incarnations

Many other people hold the offices of Incarnations and appear in one or more of the novels; however, they are rarely given a name other than that of their office. This list includes some of the major ones.

Chronos

The first Incarnation of Time not to be a friend of Satan's lived from about the time of World War I until after World War II. Niobe has an affair with him, as Clotho usually does with Chronos, and this made Satan his enemy. Later, when Satan witnessed the effect of the Holocaust on his friend YHWH, he taunts Chronos, causing him to undo the course of history; in this new reality, the Holy Roman Empire comes back to power instead of Nazism. He appears in "With a Tangled Skein" and "For Love of Evil".

For eight years after this the office of Chronos was held by a young boy who took the hourglass from Norton when the chosen man changed his mind at the last minute (thus making the boy Norton's successor, despite living entirely before him). In the same way, Norton's predecessor lives in the twenty-first century; he is said to save the world in his time and a statue bearing his likeness is erected in gratitude.

Fate

When Niobe gives up the office of Clotho, her successor is a Hungarian girl named Lisa, who must learn English over her tenure to communicate with the other Incarnations. She is in office for the full twenty-five years between Niobe's tenures as Clotho and Lachesis. She leaves to marry a man whose family has lived through the same troubles she has. She appears in "With a Tangled Skein" and unnamed in "On a Pale Horse". She is succeeded by an Oriental-American girl, who serves with Niobe until she leaves to live with a Samurai they encountered in their work; she appears in "With a Tangled Skein". Her successor is a dark-haired girl who is Norton's companion when he assumes office; she appears in "Bearing an Hourglass" and "And Eternity".

When Niobe becomes Clotho, the senior aspect of Fate is Lachesis. She acts as a leader for the three women until she resigns due to guilt over not being able to prevent Blanche's murder at Niobe's son's wedding. Little is said of the woman chosen to replace her; both appear only in "With a Tangled Skein". During Niobe's absence another woman assumes the office; she helps Zane in "On a Pale Horse", and leaves office to inherit a European estate in "With a Tangled Skein", to be replaced by Niobe.

The first example of Atropos is the grandmotherly figure who visits Junior and Pacian so Niobe may visit her son without her unchanging age becoming suspicious. After some time this woman retires to live the rest of her time with these two boys. Little is said of the woman chosen to replace her; both appear only in "With a Tangled Skein". During Niobe's absence another woman assumes the office; she helps Zane in "On a Pale Horse", and leaves office to look after her two great-grandchildren in "With a Tangled Skein". Her successor is an elderly African-American woman who serves with Niobe. In "And Eternity" she cuts her own thread short to save her daughter from an abusive husband, and her successor is Nicolai, the elderly Gypsie who employs Orb in "Being a Green Mother".

Mars

Mym's predecessor as the Incarnation of War is wise and well-trained figure who dons the battle helmet almost always. He appears in "On a Pale Horse" and "With a Tangled Skein", where he fights and bests Samurai, and judges Niobe's contest in Hell. Shortly after this, Satan arranges to have all earthly conflict cease, so that this Incarnation must retire to Eternity, his position going to Mym. He tells Zane about the French Revolution as though he were there to witness it, but in "With a Tangled Skein" it is stated that he began his office during Niobe's absence, sometime between 1956 and 1981.

Gaea

In "For Love of Evil", a new woman assumes the office of the Incarnation of Nature in the fourteenth century. Because her predecessor humiliated him, Satan took vengeance on the new Gaea by instigating the Bubonic Plague when she was still inexperienced and unprepared. She recovered, though, and her tenure continued well over six hundred years; she teaches important lessons to Zane in "On a Pale Horse", to Niobe in "With a Tangled Skein" and to Mym in "Wielding a Red Sword". She retires in "Being a Green Mother" in favour of Orb. While Orb uses the music of the Llano to perform her duties, her predecessor used body movements.

Evil

Parry is first corrupted on the orders of Lucifer, whom he deposes on his deathbed. (In "On a Pale Horse" Zane addresses Satan as Lucifer, but this may be because he is unaware that Eternals (Good and Evil) are offices like the other Incarnations.) Other previous Incarnations of Evil include Samael, the first Father of Lies; Beelzebub, during the time of Jesus Christ; Asmodeus; and Mephistopheles.

YHWH

In "For Love of Evil", Satan befriends YHWH, the God of the Jewish people. YHWH is said to be the former master of the world, and as such is able to navigate the Void. It is because of Him that Satan tricks Chronos into undoing the events leading up to the Holocaust, saving YHWH's people. He also appears briefly in "And Eternity".

Nox

While the other seven Incarnations are known collectively as the Incarnations of Day, Nox is the Incarnation of Night. While the other Incarnations all passed their offices on to others, Nox has held the office from the time of creation without relinquishing it. She appears in "For Love of Evil" when Parry, the new Satan, is looking for the curse to destroy demons, but Nox does not know it or else does not tell him; she does, however, direct him to Chronos, who is able to help. In "And Eternity" she nurses the infant spirit of Orlene's son, and when Orlene comes to her Nox teaches her about the passions of man by transforming Orlene's body, then sets out the quest to each of the Incarnations. Later, she makes a bet with Satan about how Orlene will fare in Hell; Orlene denies Satan's offer so that Nox wins, and so when the Incarnations of Day gather to select a new Incarnation of Good, Satan must nominate Nox's candidate, who is Orlene. Only at the end do Orlene and Jolie realize that the quest was really Nox's way of preparing Orlene for her future office.

Nox is the focus of the eighth book of the series, "Under a Velvet Cloak" released in 2007.

Minor Incarnations

Mars has four horsemen who accompany him to battles: Conquest, Slaughter, Famine and Pestilence. The first three appear only in "Wielding a Red Sword" while Pestilence also has a small cameo appearance in "Being a Green Mother".
Gaea has a wider array of servants, including Eros (love), Hope, and Phobos and Deimos (fear and panic). None has a role of more than a few lines or a mention. It is not explained if any of these Incarnations are offices like the others. In larger issues, such as the election of a new Incarnation of Good, the minor Incarnations are simply said to support the major ones, and do not participate directly.

Kaftan family members

While the families of most of the Incarnations are mostly or entirely absent, the Kaftan family of Ireland appears prominently. Its major players are Niobe (by marriage), Orb, Luna and the Magician (also, Orlene and her baby are blood relatives, but she is raised by another family and only meets her biological family after her death). The following all only appear in "With a Tangled Skein", with one brief exception for Pacian.

Cedric is about sixteen years old when Niobe, who is already in her twenties, is forced to marry him. He is too young to be off fighting in World War I, and Niobe detests the marriage at first. His constant love for her first wins her respect, and she is also captivated by his singing, which by magic is beautifully amplified when he touches her. She encourages him to hone his magical abilities at college, and when she visits him there he protects her from attack, winning over her love fully. Soon thereafter Niobe gives birth to their son Junior (later the Magician).

When Satan learns about Niobe, the woman who has been the subject of his arrangement with Heaven for hundreds of years, Cedric is able to predict the forthcoming attempt on her life. Rather than let her die, he comes home and takes her place, allowing her to live and become Clotho. His soul ascends to Heaven.

Pacian is Cedric's cousin, still a boy when Niobe leaves Junior with his parents. He and Junior are looked after by Atropos, who is with them when they hear the prophecy that they will each marry the most beautiful woman of her generation and have a strangely-matched daughter. Pacian first marries Blanche, a pleasant but plain woman, in seeming defiance to the prophecy. Their daughter is Blenda, at whose marriage to the Magician Blanche is killed.

Pacian stays in Ireland after his wife's death, and reconnects with Niobe when he is an old man and she is still in her young guise as Clotho. The two fall in love, and Niobe returns to being a mortal to marry him, thus fulfilling that part of the prophecy—Pacian finally weds the most beautiful woman of her generation. Pacian has the same musical magic as Cedric had, and he and Niobe enjoy doing logic puzzles together, such as the missionaries and cannibals problem (or a variation thereof) and the twelve-coin puzzle, both of which Niobe uses to help her through Satan's maze in Hell.

Niobe becomes pregnant around the same time as Blenda, and she gives birth to Orb within a week of Luna's birth. Pacian helps raise Orb, and in "Being a Green Mother" he teaches her about the Music of the River, actually a part of the Llano, which only those with musical gifts like theirs can hear. Pacian dies as Orb reaches adulthood, and a few years later Niobe becomes Lachesis.

Blanche is Pacian's first wife. While she is a pleasant, kind woman, she is not the most beautiful woman of her generation, casting doubt on the prophecy for a time. Their daughter is Blenda. Satan hides a demon at Blenda and the Magician's wedding, but the Magician protects himself and his bride, so the demon kills Blanche instead. Blanche led a virtuous life and ends up in Heaven.

Blenda is the daughter of Pacian and Blanche and the wife of the Magician, and thus has the same maiden name and married name. She is the most beautiful woman of her generation, just as the prophecy said the wife of the Magician would be. Their daughter is Luna. Blenda died of leukemia shortly before the events of "On a Pale Horse", prompting her family's move to the United States.

When Niobe is journeying to find her son in Hell, each of these four people appears to her, but she is certain that none of them would have wound up in Hell for eternity, and realizes that they are demons hidden by Satan's illusions. She turns down the false Cedric and Pacian, but the false Blanche and Blenda stay with her, and she protects them for a while so as not to provoke a violent attack.

External links

* [http://www.hipiers.com Official Piers Anthony Website]
* [http://www.piers-anthony.com/complist.html The Compleat Piers Anthony]
* [http://www.spundreams.net/~phoenix/IoIChron.html Incarnations of Immortality Timeline]


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