Summer Reading Program, Day 5: Death, Time, and Fate

By the time I hit tenth grade, my penchant for reading had slowly been replaced with a new hobby: playing guitar. It’s all I did in my spare time and recreational reading fell by the wayside. However, I also developed a new friendship at the beginning of that school year, Mike Lewis. Mike and I bonded quickly over bands (Dokken, Saxon, Testament) and TV shows (The Young Ones, SNL, Headbanger’s Ball) and I started hanging out at his house after school pretty regularly. One day we were up in his bedroom and I saw this book laying on his nightstand, On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony. I asked him about it and he said it was about a guy who inadvertently shoots Death (aka The Grim Reaper) and has to BECOME Death (sort of like a darker version of The Santa Claus). Mike told me it was book one in a five book series, that he was almost done with it and I was welcome to read it when he was finished. I took him up on it.

I loved it. It was a weird but entertaining read full of supernatural beings, magic, heaven and hell, God and Satan. I blew through it before Mike finished the second one so I went out and bought the rest of the set for myself. They all have the same premise: a mere mortal somehow taking the “office” of an incarnation. Bearing An Hourglass is about Time, With A Tangled Skein was about Fate, Wielding A Red Sword was about War and Being a Green Mother was about, you guessed it, Mother Nature. They were, by far, some of the most complex, esoteric, thought provoking books I had ever read at that point in my life. And remember I was a kid growing up in Southern Baptist church culture. These books were NOT in line with my beliefs at the time or the bible for that matter. My youth pastor certainly didn’t like me reading them. Mike and I talked about them extensively as we read through the series, though. Mike’s passed away a number of years ago and these books along with our discussions are one of the great memories I have of him.

Well, that completes our week. Hopefully, some of the books mentioned this week spark some memories for you. Just writing about them makes me want to read a few of them again. Let me know if you read any of them in the future. I’d love to hear about it!

— Eric

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About Eric Vardeman 111 Articles
80's lover. Screenwriter. Cohost of The Greatest Lists podcast. Christmas enthusiast. Tulsa Curling Club founder. Cherokee. Guitar player. Boomer Sooner. Curator of 80's playlists (

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