Written by Piers Anthony, On a Pale Horse begins with Zane – a man who is down on his luck. Being broke brings out the worst aspects of his personality. He trades a blossoming romance for a wealth stone, which works dismally. In utter desolation, Zane picks up a gun and points it at his own head. Then everything slows down and as the black-caped death approaches, Zane turns the gun onto him. Having killed death, Zane must thus take his office.
While it seems to Zane like a strange twist of fate, it soon becomes apparent that his becoming death has been orchestrated by the highest powers. Zane is to become an important player in the destiny of the planet.
The book is full of personified forces – death, fate, time, war and nature. Not to mention God and Satan.
It took me a while to get into this, but the storyline is rather intriguing and Zane is an interesting character who develops and changes throughout the novel. In the (rather long) author’s note, Anthony has some interesting things to say about how the novel is a comment on life, death and the status of the soul. In several places the novel discusses how good deeds can also be sins, whereas doing nothing to stop evil can sometimes keep your soul clean.
It is the start of a series of you are interested in getting into it, each of which deals with a different personified force (called “Incarnations”). Here is a link to some info on the other books: