Wielding a Red Sword (Incarnations of Immortality #4)

Wielding a Red Sword (Incarnations of Immortality #4)

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Mym was a dutiful son, but rather than agree to his father's choice for his marriage, he took up the Red Sword, symbol of office of the Incarnation of War, in order to ameliorate some of the suffering caused by Earth's constant petty wars. But Mym discovered that Satan was waiting to trap him, and he must now take desperate measures to outwit the evil genius who aimed to destroy the world....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780788740565
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 01/01/1986
Series: Incarnations of Immortality Series , #4
Edition description: Unabridged

About the Author

Piers Anthony, sometimes called Pier Xanthony, is the pseudonym of a Mundane character who was born in England in 1934, came to America in 1940, was naturalized in 1958, and moved to Xanth in 1977. His first story was published in 1963, and his first novel, Chthon, in 1967. His first Xanth novel, A Spell for Chameleon, won the August Derleth Fantasy Award as the best novel for 1977, and his fantasy novels began placing on the New York Times bestseller list with Ogre, Ogre. He shifted from writing in pencil to writing on the computer, and Golem in the Gears was his first novel created on the machine; naturally, the computer found its way into Xanth.

Read an Excerpt

It was a traveling show, the kind that drifted from village to village, performing for thrown rupees. There was a chained dragon who would snort smoke and sometimes fire when its keeper signaled, a harpy in a cage who flapped her wings and spat curses at the audience, and a mermaid in a tank who would, for a suitable fee, bring her head out of the water to kiss a spectator. Standard stuff, hardly impressive, but fun for the children. The dragon was old and flabby, the harpy was ugly, and the mermaid, though pretty enough, evidently spoke no local dialect. But at least this show was convenient and cheap, and the crowd was thick.
The man who watched was undistinguished. He was slightly below average height, wore a faded gray shawl, and he kept his mouth shut. He had evidently suffered some abrasion of the face, for it was to an extent swathed in dirty bandages, so that only his eyes, nose, and mouth were exposed. He had the mark of the Sudra caste, though he could have been taken for an Aryan in race. Since none of the twice-born would mix voluntarily with the more lowly merchants and laborers of the once-born, his identity had to be taken at face value.
Of course, caste had been legally abolished in most of the kingdoms of India. But what was legal did not necessarily align with what was actual. One had only to watch the reaction of anyone who inadvertently brushed by a Pariah to understand that!
Now the main show developed. A stage magician performed sundry acts of illusion, causing the faces of demons to manifest in smoke and a flock of birds to startle out of his hat. One of the birds let a dropping fall on the head of a spectator, who complained loudly, whereupon the magician gestured and changed the bird into a shining gold coin, which tumbled to the ground and rolled. The spectator pounced on the coin—but it converted to a venomous snake that hissed and struck at him, while the other spectators laughed. Good magic!
Then there was an exotic dancer, who undulated in the company of a giant python. Her performance was partly artistic and mostly erotic, and the percentage of men in the throng increased. Then the python opened its mouth and took in her left hand. The dance continued, and the reptile swallowed her arm and then her head, and finally the rest of her body. There was strong applause as her two kicking feet disappeared into the maw and the snake slithered heavily back into its curtained cage.
Now a startlingly lovely young woman took her place on the small stage. Her skin was so pale as to be almost white, and her hair was the color of honey. She had a little harp and she set herself and began to play and sing. The song was in English, a language generally but not universally understood in this region. This was a novelty, and the audience was quiet.
The song and music spread out to captivate the listeners. There was a special quality to it that caught them up, even those who could not follow the words. It was as if a mighty orchestra were playing and a chorus of deific beings singing—yet there was only the one woman and her instrument. This was a phenomenon beyond what had been presented before, and all stood entranced.
When the song was done, there was a hush. Then the rupees began flying, landing at the woman’s feet, fairly burying them in metallic brightness. All that the audience had came forth, begging for another song.
The woman smiled and sang again, and it was as before: every person within range was transported. Even the old ones were rapt. Now those of the Vaishya caste, the husbandmen and merchants, entered the throng, heedless of propriety, listening. When the second song was done, the shower of money from these higher-class listeners overwhelmed the prior contributions. Applause enough!
The Sudra man stood transfixed, even after the woman had taken up her harp and retired to her wagon and the next show had come on. Jostled by his neighbors, he recovered enough to walk away, his gaze almost vacant. He had evidently been smitten and hardly knew how to cope with it.
He found his way to a wall that offered some slight seclusion and leaned against it. Then he reached into an inner pocket and brought out a ring in the form of a coiled little snake. He set this ring on his smallest finger and brought it covertly to his bandaged face.
“She?” he whispered in English.
The snake-ring came alive and squeezed his finger once.
The man removed the ring from his finger and returned it to his hidden pocket. He paused, considering. How was he to approach this lovely and talented woman, and how would she receive him? He could get more specific advice from the ring, but he preferred to work it out for himself, as his possession of the ring could identify his nature if it were seen by others.
In the end, he waited till dusk, when the throng dissipated and the traveling show was closing up for the night. He approached the covered wagon he had seen the woman with the harp enter. He stood by it and clapped his hands, gently, so as to attract attention without generating too much of it.
The woman appeared. “Yes?” she inquired. Now her lovely fair hair was bound in a heavy kerchief, and she wore a functional skirt and jacket, but her beauty overcame these restrictions.
The man opened his mouth, but did not speak. He gestured helplessly.
“I am sorry,” the woman said. “I can see that you have been injured, but I do not speak the local dialect. Do you know English?”
The man tried again. His mouth worked, and finally the sounds came out. “Ah-ah-ah—I do,” he said.
She glanced sharply at him, tilting her head. “You are shy?” she inquired. “There is no need to be. What is it that you wish?”
The man struggled again to speak. “N-n-n-not sh-sh-shy,” he said. “I st-st-stu-stu-stutter.”
She did not even smile. “Come inside,” she said.
He followed her into the wagon. Inside, the space was tight, but well organized; there was room for two to sit facing each other, and this they did.
“I do not know you,” the woman said. “I have not before talked directly with a person with your problem. Forgive me if I am clumsy; I don’t quite know how to help you.”
Again the man tried. It took time for him to get the words out, but the woman was patient and did not try to interrupt or to fill in the words for him. Digested, what he said was this: “I need help to leave the Kingdom.”
“But if you have committed some crime, and are fugitive from justice, I shall not help you,” the woman said.
He asserted that he was not a criminal; he just had need to depart anonymously.
“Forgive me again,” she said, “but I must ask you to touch my harp. This will advise me whether what you say is true.”
He touched her harp. Nothing happened.
She smiled. “Thank you. Now let us be introduced. I am Orb Kaftan of Ireland, and I sing for my supper. My harp is a gift of the Mountain King and it will not suffer the touch of a dishonest person. I am sorry I had to doubt you before.”
“I—must not tell you my identity,” the man said haltingly. “I am not injured; I wear the bandage to conceal my face.”
“Ah—a political refugee?”
“Approximately.” His stutter was diminishing as her warm attention helped him, but that word remained a considerable challenge.
“May I see your face?”
He unwound the bandage. His face was clear and handsome, almost aristocratic. “But I must not show it openly,” he said.
“I think we might help you, but I am not sure you would like the manner,” Orb said. “We always have need of inexpensive labor, tending the animals, cleaning the cages, menial chores. I think you are of higher birth than that.”
“I am. I will do the work.”
“Perhaps we can improve upon your camouflage,” she said. “Let me fetch you a mask.”
She set him up with a clown-mask. She assured him that it would not seem unusual, as long as he remained with the group, as most of the members had more than one task, doubling as entertainers and workers.
And so he joined the group and shoveled dragon manure and cleaned the harpy cage and fed fish to the mermaid. He was paid only with food, a bunk in a wagon, and his right to be anonymous.
The group moved slowly from village to village, on wagons hauled by rented elephants, and put on its show at every stop.
After several days, the man approached Orb again. “I think I could perform,” he explained haltingly.
“But everybody laughs at the clowns!” she protested.

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Wielding a Red Sword 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was ok but not as good as the others. it started out great but then it got to rapture and by the time i got half way with her i just wanted to strangle her. how can someone be so dependent. thank god she's out of mym's life by half way thru the book
Guest More than 1 year ago
Through the whole book Piers Anthony keeps readers at the edge of their seats with suspense and descriptive details in the book Wielding A Red Sword. This story is set in an exciting fictitcious world full of excitement, danger, and love. The book is set back in the 16th or 17th century witch sets up a vast array of things that happened and the ways of life back then. Wielding A Red Sword is a story full of plot twists and exciting conflicts that the main character Mym encounters. The first main conflict that Mym encounters in this book full of adventures is that he is faced with a horrible speech impediment. This speech impediment causes Mym in the book to be faced with challenges in speaking and social problems. During the book Mym is in danger as well as love often at the same time. Because, of this horrible speech impairment Mym joins the circus to run away from his rich and powerful father who¿s name was King Jurat. In the beginning the only real f\place that Mym can call home is the circus and he really and truly feels as if he is part of a ¿family¿ for the first time in his life. While working for this circus Mym meets a beautiful lady named Orb. They fall in deep love but soon they get ripped apart by Mym¿s family. Now to find her he must search far and wide all across this world full of adventures to find his true love. In my opinion this book is very well written. It has great descriptive details at times but then at other times it seems as if they sum things up to quickly and you have to read it several times to understand what they are talking about. Now for the characters, Mym is a very well written young man of the age from 20-30 years old and has great personality and very easy to understand. Now for the realistic part of the book it seems that most of the conflicts are very reasonable and are realistic but for some parts of the book during war and during some scenes during the circus many things seem very outrageous and very unrealistic. Such things as women being devoured by monsters and getting coughed back up by them is very unrealistic in my opinion and the book could have gone without these things. But on the other hand it gives this book an edge over some other books of this sort because they do not have this creativity that Piers Anthony has in his books. I think that if you like books with war and love as well as many different plots going on at the same time you would like the book Wielding A Red Sword. I recommend this book strongly if you have an open mind for creative literature. If you decide to read this book I hope you enjoy it and happy reading.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first this one was less irritating to me than the others; it was more straightforward and less romantic. But in the end, the stupidity of the characters just made me crazy. The preachy tone was back and the bad dialogue. I wish Satan would win every once in a while, but of course he didn¿t.
Gkarlives on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Here is where the series fell down for me. Some of it may come from my not being comfortable with the Indian lifestyle of the main character. I just could not connect with him so the book was ultimately unsatisfactory for me. Also, the playfulness with the world and the office did not seem to be there.
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This series was one I massively enjoyed growing up, and coming across a cheap copy, I was interested to see how it holds up. I could still remember the basic premises so starting mid series was not a significant problem. So did it hold up? Well just about. The basic universe premise is a somewhat technologically current world much like ours, but where magic also functions. God and Satan are also real physical entities as are the other major powers of Western canon - Fate, Nature, Death War and Time. They are mortals temporarily granted those powers and attributes. The narrative hook running through the series is that Satan's grand plans hinge on a mortal vote sometime in the near future. Each of the established incarnations actively thwarts Satan, but in turn each is replaced by a new incumbent, whom Satan challenges to try and wring advantage in the future vote. This one features Mars, the power of War, wielding a Red Sword.Although most of the series is set in the West, this one bizarrely is Indian in origin. Mym is a dutiful son of a Rajah, and then denied the women he loves, turns into a berserker rage which triggers his ascension to Mars. Here however Satan arranges for a new love, to also be denied to him. Mars's quest for revenge might allow Satan the space he needs. The whole western ethos set in India doesn't really work, and his portrayals of many of the women, can be offensive to modern ears - lots of servitude and being unable to cope on their own. This is an issue with some parts of the Indian caste system today, but it isn't made obvious enough that it's inappropriate. I also didn't lie the very protracted beginning and set-up along with the tedious introductions to each Incarnation, leaving the final resolution with Satan exceptionally rushed. That said it's a fast fun read, a clever world still just about hanging together - the first in the series is probably the best though. As usual Satan gets all the best lines, and it is worth thinking about what he says - knowing it to fundamentally true, but also distortingly false. Not as good as I remembered it, but enjoyable flick through read......................................................................................If you wish to comment on this review, please leave a note on my profile or on the Thread in the Review Discussion Group
AnnieHidalgo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the Incarnations of Immortality. Have we ever really gotten beyond personifying the great forces in life? Death, war, fate, etc. Obviously there's something innate to humanity that makes it seem natural.
Scoshie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
#4 of the Incarnations of Immortality-- let's just say it Piers Anthony ROCKS!!Mym, an Indian prince, defies his father's plans for an arranged marriage, instead joining a traveling circus. He meets Orb, who teaches him to overcome his own handicap of a terrible stutter through song. He is soon discovered, and his father arranges for him to marry a princess by the name of Rapture. After fighting against this for days on end, he finally realizes that Rapture is worth loving, and so concedes to the marriage. However, a plot to separate him from her results in his decision to become the Incarnation of War, and then the problems start
JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wielding a Red Sword is the fifth book in the Incarnations of Immortality series. In this story, we follow Mim, the stuttering prince of India who is destined to become Mars the incarnation of War. Mim seeks to leave his royal life behind and joins a band of performers and encounters the love of his life, Orb Kaftan. Circumstances drive him to back to the royal palace where he encounters the second love of his life, Rapture. Eventually, much later in the book, Mim is finally bestowed with the red sword marking him as Mars, bringer of War. Mim spends a while acclimating to his new role and then the Piers Anthony formula kicks in. That is, Satan intervenes and Mim is forced to battle the Prince of Lies. Hopefully this does not qualify as a spoiler, but big surprise here, Satan is thwarted once again.This book really takes the series in a giant nose dive towards terrible land for a few reasons. Reason one: the formula is growing stale and the books have gone away from explaining the nuances of the "office" and have become more a fantasy love story. Reason two: Piers Anthony sucks at writing female characters. The women are all portrayed as flat, generic, gender stereotyped automatons that do not strike me as interesting in any way, shape or form. It is going to be a real struggle to finish the series after this train wreck.
Omrythea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My least favorite in the series... maybe I just don't like war that much.
surreality on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Plot: Predictable, which is quite an achievement in this setting. It's surprisingly straightforward, with known elements from the previous books, and feels quite uninspired. Characters: If there was anyone I was supposed to be interested in, I failed to notice. There's very little characterization and no character development at all. Interactions feel stilted and forced, which makes interpersonal relationships very hard to believe. Style: Average prose. Nothing to get excited about, nothing to be irritated by. The usual awkward dialogue, and too much description. Plus: The story touches some tricky matters of ethics and morality. Minus: Show, don't tell. That saying exists for a reason. All Anthony does is tell. Summary: The low point for the series. So much potential, and all of it wasted.
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AVoraciousReadr More than 1 year ago
War...what is it good for? Mym is a Prince who stutters. Since he has an older brother who will inherit the throne he finally runs away to join a traveling circus. He starts out doing menial labor, but soon works up to being one of the main attractions as Mym the Mime. He and Orb Kaftan, the musician main attraction, fall in love, but just as they are happily making plans for their life the royal guards show up. They inform Mym his brother is dead and he is to inherit the throne. He promises Orb he will get things settled with his father and come back for her. But the Rajah has other plans for his son. Mym is stuck between his duty to his country and his love for Orb. What will he do? Oh, boy. How utterly frustrating for Mym. First he deals with a severe stutter all his life and then he’s denied the woman he loves and a life he’s happy living. He’s forced into a marriage agreement he doesn’t want and then when the political winds change he’s forced on yet another woman. When the Red Sword comes to him giving him the option to become Mars, well, who can blame him for taking it? I wouldn’t. His dad should have just let him marry Orb. But in taking the sword his trials haven’t ended. Not by a long shot. Now, he has to stay a step ahead of Satan and as the newbie Incarnation he’s at a disadvantage as Satan is going to do what he can to get around Mym and fulfill his evil plans. Will Mym have what it takes to defeat the Father of Lies? All I’ll say is it’s an excellent journey and the final act is sheer brilliance.
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Wesker_Chick More than 1 year ago
That is what truely defins this book, is war a neccissary part of life? Featuring a very dynamic lead character, Mym, it becomes apparent that he is somewhat torn about the concept of war. In life he strove to end it, now he is in charge of it. Of course Satan, makes an appearence. This book is a favorite in the series for me, second only to "On A Pale Horse". I highly...HIGHLY...reccommend reading the three precceding books, however, as many characters make a reapperence.
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