Under A Velvet Cloak

Under A Velvet Cloak

by Piers Anthony
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Under A Velvet Cloak by Piers Anthony

Nox, the Incarnation of Night and Mistress of Secrets...

It is the year 500 AD. Kerena, a beautiful young girl living near King Arthur's Camelot, is apprenticed to Morely the Seer. Morely teaches her fantastic magic, but when he mysteriously disappears, Kerena finds herself out on the street and must resort to prostitution to survive.

Kerena prospers as a skilled courtesan until she is taken into service by Morgan le Fey, the sorceress sister of King Arthur. Kerena's knowledge of magic grows as she is required to carry out nefarious deeds for the evil Lady Fey.

One of her missions is to seduce Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table, to prevent him from locating the Holy Grail. But Gawain and Kerena fall in love and she conceives his child, a child she discovers is cursed to die an early death.

Using her Seer abilities, Kerena tries to locate the fabled Incarnations of Immortality, seeking their aid in removing the taint from her baby. Rebuffed by all seven major Incarnations, Kerena vows revenge.

But revenge against such mighty immortals would require an even greater power...

(Book 8 of Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series.)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606594445
Publisher: Mundania Press
Publication date: 07/21/2015
Pages: 324
Sales rank: 292,132
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Author Piers Anthony (born Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob) is an English-American author of science fiction and fantasy books. He is best known for his long-running novel series set in the fictional realm of Xanth. In addition to the 40 books in the Xanth series (with two more forthcoming), he has written numerous other science fiction and fantasy series, such as Incarnations of Immortality, and dozens of standalone novels.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
On Velvet

It was the time of a great king who ruled from a shining city. He had been trained in statesmanship by a powerful mage, and had united the warring clans to form a kingdom that would be long remembered. He had gathered a prominent group of knights under his banner of chivalry. They met at a table in the shape of a circle, so that there was no seeming order of rank among them. But this is not that story.

In a small village in this kingdom was a family with two daughters. The lack of a son might have been unfortunate, but the elder sister was beautiful, outgoing, talented in the arts, intelligent, and good natured. She would inevitably be courted by many eligible young men, fall in love with the handsomest and wealthiest, marry, and have many excellent children. Some of her distant descendants would become Incarnations of Immortality, and others would marry them. But this is not that story either.

The younger sister was fair of feature, but slow to develop, so that at age thirteen she still lacked breasts. This was awkward, as other girls her age were already fascinating young men. She was quiet, introspective, observant, and sometimes given to flashes of intuition. That would have been acceptable, had she not made the error of expressing them. She was simply too smart and nervy for a girl. Her prospects were bleak.

This is her story. As seen by a ghost.

* * * *

Jolie quested until she found the correct girl. She could tell by the feel of her. She had to get it right, because once she entered, she would probably be confined to that body, until her long mission was done. She couldn't just flit about,because she was out of her timeline and could readily get lost.

This second sister was the one. She fit the description, and she felt right. She had vastly more potential than she knew, and she was the pivotal figure in the divergence of realities. What others did didn't matter; only this girl's actions were responsible for the key changes.

Jolie entered the body and was subsumed. Her awareness became the girl's awareness, but Jolie retained her own identity to the extent she wished. She could assert herself any time she needed to, but it was too much of an effort to bother with routinely.

Kerena did not know what to do. She was so much in her elder sister Katherine's shadow that she was in effect invisible. She seemed destined to remain a drag on her parent's household. There was barely enough to go around as it was; they could not afford to feed her indefinitely.

That's what you think, girl. Your life is about to change significantly. Jolie was not really talking to Kerena, who was not aware of her presence. But the pretense made her feel better. She could influence the girl's thoughts, and thus her actions, but it was essential that she not do that unless it was absolutely necessary. Anonymity was golden.

Then a Seer visited the village, really just passing through on his way to somewhere more important, and Kerena suffered a flash. If she could somehow persuade him to take her off their hands, that would be almost as good as marriage. They would be free of the burden, and she would get to travel. Of course it would not be a completely pleasant existence, but she could gather herbs, scrub pots, and do whatever else a servant girl did. Men traveling alone were always in need of such services; they were incompetent housekeepers.

That's it, girl. He is a good man. Do it. If for some obscure reason the girl didn't do it, then Jolie would have to encourage her, because this connection was vital.

In fact vital rather understated the case. There were a seemingly infinite number of timelines, alternate realities, each slightly different from its neighbor, the differences growing as they progressed. The tiniest deviance could generate massive change farther down the timeline. If a girl was walking at dusk to a love tryst, and made it, and conceived and birthed a baby, that baby could grow up and have descendants of lesser or greater significance. But if that girl happened to see a large spider and took a fright, and fled home instead of making her tryst, there would be no baby, and all of what that new person did in life would be lost. All because the maiden happened to see the spider instead of missing it. The change of the direction of one glance could alter the fate of that entire timeline.

This was not academic. In Jolie's timeline the Incarnation of Good had made a study of adjacent and nearby alternate timelines, and discovered that only one achieved salvation: her own. All the others, as far as the Incarnations had fathomed, expired in hellfire, chaos, or some other dreadful doom. It was hardly possible to discovery why, as that would require in-depth studies of an infinite number of variants. God--the Incarnation of Good--could not check directly, because few folk could cross between timelines. Only those who had no similar selves in the others, and there were not many of those.

Instead they had sought the closest variant, and prepared Jolie to go there, to its earliest point of divergence, so she could in effect change the girl's glance and salvage the situation. Jolie could not affect her own timeline, because of the paradox of changing her own existence, but she could touch this adjacent one. They called it Timeline Two, or T2, the original being T1. There might not be a Jolie here, but by the time she brought it into alignment there would be a Jolie. That would be a different person from herself, with an independent existence, but very similar in all the ways that counted. Including, unfortunately, her tragically early death. That was uncomfortable to consider. Suppose the Jolie of this timeline survived, and she had to change it to make her die? She hated the very notion, yet knew she would do it if she had to.

The hope was that in this straightforward manner a second timeline could be saved. Then the Jolie of that universe could do the same for the third timeline, and so on in a chain, saving many that were otherwise doomed. T1 to T2, T2 to T3, and so on, in theory. Perhaps there were many routes to salvation, but the only pattern they could be sure of was the first one. They had to make the second align with the first, at least until it was close enough to achieve salvation on its own.

Thus her mission was literally to save a universe. She had no certainty of success, but it was something that had to be tried. The folk of this timeline did not deserve the cruel fate that awaited them otherwise. Meanwhile she was learning things about the prior course of her own timeline, because of the alignment. These supposedly dull details were thus made fascinating. Here was an innocent girl proceeding to a tryst of a sort. Let her not see a spider!

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Under a Velvet Cloak 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 100 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the original series, so I was looking forward to this. What a disappointment. In 233 pages there is perhaps 20 pages of actual story, the rest is just a string of poorly written sex scenes. The shallow sexuality fails to distract from the fact that the character development is missing and the storyline is recycled and not very interesting. Its a shame. This last book feels like an anchor on a series that was better off left alone.
KazeKitsune More than 1 year ago
While a very good read, I feel that this book is only safe for mature audiences, as this work shows just how dirty Piers Anthony can write. This is a stunning conclusion to the Incarnations of Immortality series, as Piers Anthony wraps up the last remaining loose end from the previous seven books, Nox. I will not go into a synapsys of the book itself, and limit my commentary to the review while trying not to give the story away. The first part of this story that really struck me is that I feel this book revolves way too much around the bedroom. It is my opinion that the amount of these scenes in the book could potentially detract from the storyline. When dealing with the Incarnation of Night they are to be expected to an extent, however this started early and often, and it felt like there was not a chapter with one of these scenes in it. Aside from these scenes, I found the book very easily pulling me in with various hooks to keep my interest. Every time I would try to set the book down to do something else, I would invariably try to get back to the book as quickly as possible to see what happened next. Piers Anthony definitely showed his skill with word crafting to keep the reader hooked into the book. In conclusion, I would recommend this book to any and all Piers Anthony fans, as it's no worse than many of his other works, and I would especially recommend it those who have read the rest of the Incarnations of Immortality series. To those new to this series; however, I would strongly recommend starting with On A Pale Horse and working their way through the series before reading this book, as it would otherwise be a very big spoiler on the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible ending to the series. It is written to cram as many sex scenes in the book as physically possible. There is so much sex that characters have normal conversations WHILE having sex. I loved the previous 7 books! Just stop at book 7...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up on Piers Anthony, with On A Pale Horse being one of the first fantasy novels I ever read. When I saw that there was an eighth Incarnations book, I had to immediately jump back into his fantastic realm, and boy did the author deliver! Weaving a tapestry of fantastical origin and deftly threading the needle to bring together almost 20 years of my life in one fell stroke. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic read I really enjoyed it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've loved a lot of Anthony's work, and the Incarnations of Immortality has always stood out as my favorite. Despite the bad reviews, I was stubborn and decided I wanted to read this. I regret my stubborness. The plot of this novel was engaging, but the writing was horrible. I could not pull myself in because the "profound logic" and dialogue was jarringly stupid. Other reviewers mentioned a lot of sex... I was still unprepared for how frequently the plot comes screeching to a halt for a poorly written sex scene, often immediately followed by another sex scene or a coversation about how all anyone ever thinks about is sex. The adult conspiracy which kept other novels appropriate for younger audiences must have given up and retired. My advice? Even if you really loved the other Incarnations books and are hellbound to get back into this universe... just find a webpage with spoilers and read a summary. This book is not worth your time or money. Go back and read the earlier novels again instead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now the series seems complete
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked how they explained why nox got involved with the other incantations
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most of the reviews are spot on. I would four star the other in this series but because of the seemingly endless, this garners a three. While central to the story, it was too much, especially in the beginning. The early sex made me feel like was watching child porn. Not cool.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plain and simple I enjoyed every minute while reading this book. Reading the other seven books in this series is helpful in understanding some aspects but is not required as this story needs no support. Had to give it five(5) star rating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a lame ending to the series. I'm beginning to wonder if the author himself has a desire for sexual relations with underage girls. It began with And Eternity and continues (albeit poorly written) in this book. Obviously, there is a connection between the office and sex, but the episodes in the book were far to frequent and seemed like they were written by a horny 8th grader. I actually found this book diificult to read because of the sheer number of these horrible scenes. Unfortunately, if he had taken out the sex scenes, the thin recycled plot could have been published as a pamphlet. Hopefully, not a lot of paper was used on physical copies of this book. It would be a crime to waste recources on this "novel". If I could, I would ask the author for a refund and compensation for time lost while reading it. I doubt they would compensate me for pain and suffering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So disappointing. This was the absolute worst story I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Incarnations of Immortality series and found this to be subpar. Interesting in how things ties together, but would have been happy if it just ended before this one.
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