On a Pale Horse Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of On a Pale Horse.
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On a Pale Horse Summary & Study Guide Description

On a Pale Horse Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony.

In a world where magic is as powerful as science, Zane is a balanced soul: half good and half evil. When he decides to kill himself, Death comes for him to take and judge his soul, and Zane shoots Death instead. He discovers that he must take Death's place, and further, he discovers that he's been manipulated by supernatural powers to save the beautiful magician's daughter Luna and foil Satan's plans to gain control of the world. Zane breaks all the rules of Death, going on strike and warring against Satan. He emerges victorious, having earned Luna's love and brought compassion to the role of Death.

Zane begins his journey in a magic shop, where he is considering magic stones that he can't afford. The dealer gets Zane to agree to give up his fated love in exchange for a wealthstone, which Zane later realizes only finds stray change. Depressed and broke, Zane resolves to kill himself, but as he is on the verge of shooting himself, he is startled by the approach of Death. Filled with fear, Zane shoots Death. Fate appears and tells Zane that now he must take on the role of Death.

Zane dons Death's protective cloak, and with the help of Death's magical stones and magical horse Mortis, Zane sets off to take the souls of those who die in a state of balance between good and evil. He experiences moral quandaries about the souls he takes, especially when he feels the sins attached to them are unfair. Zane saves some of the lives he is supposed to take and wonders if he is doing justice to his role.

Then, Zane is called to a dying magician. The powerful man offers Zane his daughter in exchange for helping save her from a mysterious plot. The magician has given his daughter some of his sin, so that he would be a balanced soul and could talk to Death. He arranged with Fate to put Zane in Death's office, to help his daughter.

Zane takes the magician to Purgatory. He tentatively agrees to help Luna, the magician's daughter, but he refuses any sexual favors in exchange. Zane sees Luna again, and they confess their sins to each other. Zane feels guilt over the mercy killing of his mother, who was kept alive by machinery and wanted to die. Luna feels guilt over allowing a demon to rape her mind in exchange for learning black magic to help her father. The two start to care about each other.

Zane learns that Satan has arranged an early death for Luna, because 20 years in the future she will go into politics and foil Satan's plans for ruling Earth and capturing millions of souls for hell. Zane refuses to take Luna's soul, which has become balanced through a selfless act of sacrifice. He goes on strike, refusing to take any souls. Satan sends Hellhounds and monsters after Zane and finally captures and begins torturing Luna. Zane goes to her and fights of Satan's minions, finally battling Satan himself. Zane has learned the full power of Death's office. He saves Luna, defeats Satan, and becomes a compassionate and merciful Death.

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