Bearing an Hourglass

So for the better part of the past two weeks I’ve been in the middle of Bearing and Hourglass, the second book in Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series.  And for every excuse I could give about being busy and not finishing it for that reason, there’s a better reason I was sitting on it for that long.  I just don’t care about it.

This is an odd thing for me to say, because I enjoy many of Piers Anthony’s books, and especially because I enjoyed the first book in the series.  Overall, this book just wasn’t working for me, but being stubborn I kept slogging through it.

So instead of a review, I”ll do a quick post about why I didn’t care for the book, and then I’ll move on to something else.

The final straw that eventually caused me to put the book down was a section where Chronos uses his magic to reverse the flow of time for everyone on Earth, but then is able to have a conversation with someone where his introduction was the last thing he said and – yeah, it just didn’t work for me.  Time travel is something that annoys me in stories.  There is no logical way for time travel to work that doesn’t create an alternate world or a paradox.  When you try to explain it by simply saying that the character is immune to paradox because of his position as an incarnation, well, that doesn’t work either.  The only example I can think of where a book had time travel and still worked for me was the third Harry Potter book, and that had more to do with the other interesting parts of the book (the dementors, Lupin, etc.) than the time travel itself.  That book also had much stronger characters than this book, so that helps as well.  (And looking back on my review of the book, I did knock it for having time travel and said that it was the weakest book of the series to that point, and overall I’d probably consider it the second weakest, book 7 was the weakest.)

The characters in this book weren’t terribly interesting to me either.  As I started to write this out, I had to look at the back of the book to even remember the main character’s name.  I also had a problem with some of the female characters, through no fault of their own, they fall into some of the worst stereotypes from the 60’s or 70’s.  This book came out in 1984, so it was probably written a couple of years beforehand, and Anthony is an older writer anyway, but parts of this book felt extremely dated to me.

The world that Anthony created for these books is very unique, it’s an original combination of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with high levels of magic and technology existing in the world.  Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me.  I also own the third book in the series, and maybe I’ll give that one a try eventually.

There is one thing that I would love to be able to take from this book.  I need to realize that if I’m not really into a book, I need to put it down and read something else.  I am a lot busier now between bowling and work, and I don’t have the time to read bad books.

I’m not rating the book, it had some potential, but just didn’t work for me.  If you’re more accepting of time travel as a plot point, you might enjoy the book, if you’re like me and you don’t enjoy time travel, you can avoid this one.

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  1. funny how people react differently to different things. Book III of Harry Potter was my favorite. But that’s mainly because I just love Lupin. He’s my favorite character in the series.

    • Lupin was a fantastic character, arguably one of the best in the entire series and easily the best of the defense against the dark arts teachers. But the characters aren’t the reason that I didn’t enjoy that book, it was the plotting and the use of time travel that really didn’t work for me.

  2. Good post and I absolutely agree. I’m a big fan of the first book but I was also disappointed by the second. I thought it was a great concept. Time knowing and being able to plan things out because he’s already witnessed the future. But I found the execution of the story confusing and a tough read. I would recommend sticking with the series. I enjoyed Wielding a Red Sword and For Love of Evil.

    • I haven’t picked up Wielding a Red Sword yet, but I’ll have to look into it. I’ve read a lot of Piers Anthony’s books before, some are quite good and some not so much, we’ll see what happens with the next one.

      • The Incarnations of Immortality are the only Piers Anthony books I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t consider myself a sci-fi fan, but I enjoyed how much logic he put into the series with how heaven and hell interact with humans and the combination of religion and magic. Very well thought out and fun reads.

      • It’s a very unique world, which is really why I think I was so disappointed with how the second book turned out. If you enjoy these books you’d probably enjoy the Xanth novels as well. Some of the later books in the series aren’t quite as good, but the first 12 or so are excellent and then there are a few other good ones throughout the later parts of the series.

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