Wielding a Red Sword  
Wielding A Red Sword by Piers Anthony
Author(s) Piers Anthony
Country United States
Language English language
Series Incarnations of Immortality
Genre(s) Fantasy
Publisher Del Rey Books
Publication date 1986-09-12
Media type Print Hardcover and Paperback
ISBN 978-0345322203
OCLC Number 13395102
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 19
LC Classification PS3551.N73 W48 1986
Preceded by With a Tangled Skein
Followed by Being a Green Mother


Wielding a Red Sword is a fantasy novel by Piers Anthony. It is the fourth of eight books in the Incarnations of Immortality series.


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.

Through the course of living as Mars, Rapture takes up a life of her own and decides that she does not need him anymore. Satan arranges, subtly, a demoness for his new companion, hoping to get Mars in his debt that way. In the end, this backfires and he ends up with two loves in his life.

His ultimate goal was to use his position to ameliorate some of the suffering being caused by war on Earth, and is surprised by Satan's encouragement. Soon he realizes the subtle importances of human war and conflict: under certain circumstances, human suffering is increased, not decreased, by abstinence from armed response. Satan's plan is to have an inexperienced office-holder in the position of the Incarnation of War, such that he can manipulate the course of armed conflicts on Earth, allowing some wars through and blocking the progression of others, such that the overall balance of evil in the world is increased.

He accomplished the replacement of the previous Mars by facilitating the cessation of all conflict in the world—not only war, but bar brawls and even minor squabbles between children counts as conflict—every time this happens in history, the Incarnation of War retires and passes on into the afterlife. Mym stepped into the office at a time when global violence was just being recommenced, and thus became an opportunity for Satan to manipulate a naïve Mars.

Part of this process was a plot by which Satan managed to trap Mym in Hell. Mym eventually led a revolution of the lost souls and secured an escape route, employing lessons from Miyamoto Musashi's famous treatise, The Book of Five Rings, to defeat Satan in a one-on-one battle. However, during his absence, Satan has manipulated the geopolitical situation such that international tensions everywhere are at an all-time high, and the world is on the brink of apocalypse.

This results in virtually every government everywhere adopting martial law, as normal democratic process is eminently non-viable. A result of this, and an important objective for Satan, is that Luna Kaftan has become sidelined, unable to fulfill the prophecy that she would rise into political office and stand as a bulwark against Satan.

Mym realizes Satan's underlying objective, and forces a confrontation on terms unfavourable to Satan—he travels to the Doomsday Clock, a signifier of how close the world is at any given time to Armageddon, and there employs the powers specific to his office to escalate world violence and bring War to ultimate fruition—Judgement Day.

The crux is this: that Satan is not yet ready for the Final Judgment to happen, as the current balance of souls on Earth is favourable to God—i.e. God would get a greater proportion of the souls, signifying (in this fictional universe) the ultimate victory of Good. At the very last minute, Satan is forced to concede and withdraw. Mym lowers his Sword and returns the world to a state of relative peace.

Mym learns that his responsibility as War is not to promote war and violence, but to make sure that conflicts are handled fairly.


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Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony
On a Pale HorseBearing an HourglassWith a Tangled SkeinWielding a Red SwordBeing a Green MotherFor Love of EvilAnd EternityUnder a Velvet Cloak
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