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With A Tangled Skein (1986)

With a Tangled Skein (1986)

Book Info

3.97 of 5 Votes: 4
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0345318854 (ISBN13: 9780345318855)
random house ballantine del rey

About book With A Tangled Skein (1986)

Reading Piers Anthony can be a bit of a bumpy ride. His books usually feature some minor detours into ploddyville and at least one horrible sightseeing escapade through skeevytown that leaves you feeling soiled and very uncomfortable. So I grant you that there is definitely potential for some boring and the genuine risk of UGH in a Piers Anthony tale.However, for all the literary potholes and ICKness he pours into his stories, this pervy old man is also a creative GENIUS who can occasionally spin threads of pure awesome that make the overall journey worth taking.Speaking of pure, creative genius, can you say rocket-powered barcalounger... ...WINNER!!Anthony is first and foremost an idea guy and The sf/fantasy concepts swimming around this story (and the series as a whole) rate extremely high on the mind-blowing scale. However, just like shopping for those great flat screen TV “deals” on Black Friday, the path to get to the good stuff can be cluttered, uncomfortable and quite a chore. Stick with it and I think you will be pleased with the result. The stark contrast between this book’s good and bad elements has left me rather schizoid. I feel like Sybil off her meds trying to keep all the different voices/viewpoints straight in my head. I figure the best thing to do is to let each voice speak their piece and we can work out the math at the end... I will however tone down, for the most part, the really irate voice who just wants to bitchslap Piers Anthony for his predilection to delve into skeevy, sexual topics rather than keeping focus on his impressive ideas. Voice #1 thinks the story was fairly well written and had some engaging, plucky characters that were, on average, fun to hang out with for a few hours. He thinks the book is just fine and worth a read, but not much more. Voice #2 thinks the world-building and sf/fantasy elements are sensational. The concept of the universe being run/ordered by seven “Incarnations” of Reality (i.e. Death, Time, Fate, War, Nature, Evil and Good) is cleverly done and Anthony's descriptions are excellent. Anthony is well deserving of propers for his prodigious imagination. Even more interesting than the fact of the Incarnations, is the idea that, except for the permanent representatives of Evil (Satan) and Good (God), the other five posts are filled by mortals who must assume and grow into the traits and powers of the office they hold. Again, well thought out creativity is Anthony's strong suit and he is on his game here. MAJOR GENIUS MOMENT:Voice #3 (kind of a gusher) was blown away by one particular idea in the story and thinks a 5 star rating is deserved based on it alone. This exceptionally compelling piece of concept creation occurred during a conversation between Satan and the main character, Niobe, who assumed the role of the Incarnation of Fate at the beginning of the story. Satan, for his own purposes, describes to Niobe “how the universe works” and why her job of taking the "substance of chaos" and weaving it into the “tapestry of Fate” is so critical to the order of things. During this conversation, Satan explains that the "purpose" of life is to take chaos material (which contains good, evil and neutral aspects) and run it through the "filter" of "animated free will" (i.e., life). This allows the chaos to be sorted into either "good" or "evil." Once all of the chaos has been sorted, life as a universal label maker will no longer be necessary and existence will end. God and Satan will then tally up their respective points and the final victor in the big game will be decided. This whole discussion is jaw-droppingly brilliant and a fantastic piece of writing. The description of life as a 3D game board is captivating and this worldview is going to stick to my brain for some time. When Anthony is in his groove, he can really make the story sing. Unfortunately, not every voice in my noggin is singing Anthony’s praises. Voice #4, a deep, loud and nasty baritone voice, thinks large portions of the book blows chunks of bland tasting meh-cakes dipped in boring sauce and served with an uncomfortable garnish of skeevy. At best, some of the male/female interactions are eye-rollingly stereotypical and will make you cringe. At worst, they're lecherous to downright misogynistic and will make you feel soiled. Having read a number of Anthony’s books, I’ve come expect that I will need to slog through some cringe-worthy crap to find the pearls of awesome. Each time I just hope that the gems are worth it. Fortunately, in his case, the positive outweighed the negative (3 voices to 1 if you are keeping score at home). Overall, I would call it a decent to good book with excellent world-building and flashes of genius that make reading the book worthwhile. 3.0 stars. Recommended

Niobe navigates many mazes, not fun, but relevant to Dungeons and Dragons gaming phase of phantasy. Most of the series adds children to network the Incarnations into an annoyingly intricate web. As talented weaver, she makes fibre into thread, spins, and works looms with precision. Parents wed her at 21 to Cedric 16, whose singing is magical. Their reluctant friendship grows to enduring passion, broken when he dies in her place to foil Satan. She burns on a funeral pyre to meet Death, Thanatos, who suggests working as Clothos. The youngest aspect of Fate shares minds with Lachesis and old Atropos until their turn to take over as the physical body. Aside from scheduled shift rotations, whoever is best suited to the task at hand can advise from within or present the appropriate age shell. She leaves her son with Pacian, Cedric's best friend, cousin, to raise, then marries Pace as mortal. When Satan takes out all three Aspects at once, she surprises him by returning as Lachesis. The war against the Evil One is the thread that runs through the series, most incidents are retold from other viewpoints. (view spoiler)[Learning the role every time is a maze; she makes mistakes the other Incarnations point out or save if they can. Fetching raw matter from the Void is a maze where Satan can offer temptations. Every Incarnation has to learn not to trust the Father of Lies, another maze. Guests to Nature always face challenges, monsters, so recurs in every book of series. Incarnations are immortal, invulnerable, but companion Pace is not p 170. When he starts song to "soothe the savage breast .. often misquoted as savage beast" p 173, the family magic comes out. The meeting place for Chronos is a circus horror house p 151, where "she watched as Self One and Self Two merged" p 158. Chronos is not the only one to meet other selves. #2 book was confusing enough. Chronos "knows the future, but if he said, it would change" p 215.Mortal again, she marries Pace and births Orb at the same time as her grand-daughter Luna. In the Hall of the Mountain King, she guides both girls past tests to magic instruments. Classic mythology has River of Lethe, forgetfulness p 197. Only one test is just for the girls, all else Niobe directs. Luna plays "miniature golden harp" p 200; Orb uses paintbrush with silver handle that "makes color from thought" p 201. Because of the times immortal, she has a very long life, always looks young. When "chronologically eighty-six years old .. the following year, things changed" p 211. All three Fates "must depart our Aspects - all together .. the unnamed has arranged it" p 214. (If the villain who cannot be named, thereby called, did not begin with Voldemort, where does the tradition start?) Both blonde, Luna's hair is "clover honey", Orb "buckwheat honey" p 298. As Lachesis, she binds Satan, who already "cheated" with blood oath "darker-haired descendant .. never enters politics" so "the Father of Deceit is hoist with his own petard" p 300. Luna obeys her father to dye her hair, without knowing why. Some riddles are classic, like the crossroads where one guide always lies, the other always tells the truth, but only one question is allowed. Most brain teasers are just boggling page skippers. In Hell, to save her son Luna, logic if-then feels like guesses conserve 100 reality-threads and sort 100 illusions from real monsters. (hide spoiler)]

Do You like book With A Tangled Skein (1986)?

Yeah. It was okay.I keep reading these 'cause I'm fascinated by the plot and I keep hoping that the characters will get better. They don't. They're really flat and unbelievable. There are several points where Piers gets feminine sexuality just plain wrong (see the part where the main character is about to get raped by a demon and says that only emotional harm would come of it *rolleyes*). I know the incredibly cliche female fantasy character should make me angry, but she's so pathetic I just can't work up a good rage about her. I doubt I'll read the next on in this series, but I was really looking forward to For Love of Evil. Oh, well, knowing this series, he's just a nice guy who has a job to do in a boring, hero-y sort of way. *sigh*
—Iggy D.

I haven’t yet posted on the Incarnations of Immortality series, but book 3 seemed like a good place to start. While I enjoyed one and two, this one is so far my favorite. This could possibly be because I love the idea of fate, and I love the way Anthony portrays it in the book. Niobe’s husband is killed and she goes to try her luck with the Incarnations at keeping him alive. Instead, they offer her the position of Clotho, the spinner of the threads of mortality and one of three women that inherit the single body of fate. Unlike her predecessors, Niobe’s role is different because she plays a part in Satan’s evil scheme. It is her granddaughter who is slated to save the world from Satan’s plan and her daughter who is to become another Incarnation. After leaving her office as Clotho and returning to birth her daughter and help raise both girls, Niobe is once again asked to take a position with Fate, this time as Lachesis, the maker of the tapestry. And when Satan takes her son’s soul to hell, it is she alone who must go head to head with the devil to save the magician. After reading two books where the incarnation is male, I enjoyed the female point of view. As far as the whole series goes, this one is proving to be enjoyable because of the way everything fits together. The time line doesn’t always seem to match up, but I’m of the mind that this is because I just can’t get my mind around some of the concepts. Luckily, I can still enjoy the books by taking what they give me at face values.

There are many twists and turns in the great novel. This novel is about Niobe, an average human being. She is forced into marrying Cedric, whom she does not love. He is much younger and she believes that she will never love him. However, she does fall in love and they have a son. But, when Cedric's life is cut too early, she seeks the help of the incarnations (fate, war, death, and time). That is when she finds out she is destined to be one. When she must save the world from Satan, she makes decisions that surprise everyone! "With A Tangled Skein" by Piers Anthony is a very exciting fantasy novel. I loved this novel. I have read many other books by Piers Anthony (41 to be exact), and this was one of the best. All of the twists and turns and surprise kept me on edge and made me want to keep reading more and more! The reoccurring themes of death, life, and love were brought back in many ways. This novel is fast and slow paced, depending on each section. The characterization in this novel is extraordinary and you can really get to know a character. The dialogue was very fitting to each character. So well that you as the reader can actually feel the tone of their speech! I didn't think there were any necessary changes to make this novel better. This is one of the best books I have ever read and I cannot wait to read more by Piers Anthony!
—Noahg English9

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