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Authors: Piers Anthony

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Fantasy, #Fantasy Fiction, #Science Fiction

God of Tarot

BOOK: God of Tarot






Earth has reached the stars and reverted to barbarism in the same era, and when a star-colony is threatened by a storm of monsters, one man is chosen to pierce the curtain of the
and endure the lusts and horrors of the planet TAROT. His name is Paul and he is a monk, which is better than a warrior on a world where religions are wielded like swords…

Piers Anthony’s magnificent books of TAROT are published in three volumes of high-intensity adventure:


The miracle planet discovered



The miracle planet explored



The miracle planet revealed







Brother Paul studied the card, and the picture formed before him.

He stepped forward and suddenly he was inside the picture, advancing toward the bridge. The cloaked figure heard him and began to turn. The face came into full view.

There was no face. There was only a smooth expanse of flesh, like the face of an incomplete store-window mannequin…



The first adventure

on the miracle planet





Titles in the TAROT SEQUENCE
Piers Anthony





A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author


Jove / HBJ edition / April 1979

I June 1981 Second printing / November 1981

All rights reserved. Copyright © 1979 by Piers Anthony. Cover Illustration by Rowena Morill. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission. For information address: Berkley Publishing Corporation, 200 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016.

ISBN: 0-425-05031-9






Dedicated to

the Holy Order of Vision




0 Folly (Fool)
1 Skill (Magician)
2 Memory (High Priestess)
oo Unknown (Ghost)
3 Action (Empress) 
4 Power (Emperor)
5 Intuition (Hierophant)
6 Choice (Lovers)
7 Precession (Chariot)
8 Emotion (Desire)
Appendix: Animation Tarot


Author’s Note:

This quarter-million-word novel of Tarot is published in three segments. This is the opening portion of the larger work, establishing the situation and covering the first major vision. It has its own unity, so may be read alone, though it is hoped the reader will be interested enough to peruse Books II and III also.

This novel relates to the author’s Cluster series of adventures, with a number of interconnections, but is of quite a different nature; the two projects should not be confused.

An appendix defines the Animation Tarot that is the basis of this novel. The complete table of contents reflects the thirty Triumphs of that deck, from Key 0 (zero) through Key 28 (twenty-eight), which are included in the appendix.

The complex nature of this novel may lead to confusion in certain places, and some scenes may be offensive to certain readers. Yet there is a rationale: It is difficult to appreciate the meaning of the heights without first experiencing the depths.




In 1170
Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant of Lyons, France, suffered a religious conversion, renounced his possessions, and wandered about the countryside in voluntary poverty. This obvious folly attracted both persecutions and followers, the latter called the “poor men of Lyons.” In 1183 Pope Lucius III excommunicated the growing sect of “Waldenses,” who appealed to the Scriptures instead of to papal authority, repudiated the taking of oaths, and condemned capital punishment. They never made the sign of the cross, as they refused to venerate the torture device on which Christ hung, or the painful and mocking crown of thorns. Nevertheless, the Waldenses prospered in Christian lands; many thousands of them settled in the Cottian Alps on the French-Italian border. Their dauntless missionaries covered southern France, southern Germany and northern Italy. But the Inquisition followed them, and they were savagely repressed over the course of several centuries. Their ministers had to go about in disguise, and it was hazardous for them to carry any of the literature of their faith, lest it betray them into torture and death. But it was hard to make the material clear without teaching aids, for many converts were illiterate and ignorant. Out of this impasse was to arise one of the most significant educational tools of the millennium




The setting is Earth of the near future. The pressures of increasing population and dwindling natural resources have brought the human scheme to the brink of ruin. There is not enough food and energy to support all the people.

But a phenomenal technological breakthrough has occurred: matter transmission. People can now be shipped instantly to habitable wilderness planets orbiting distant stars. This seems to offer relief from the dilemma of mankind;
now there is somewhere for all those people to go

This leads to the most massive exodus in the history of the species; so many people are leaving that within a decade no one will be left on Earth. Unfortunately, matter transmission requires a tremendous amount of energy. The planet’s sources of power are being ravished. This has the peculiar side effect of reversing the technological level of human culture; people are forced to revert to more primitive mechanisms. Kerosene lamps replace electric lights; wood replaces oil; horses replace cars; stone tools replace metal ones. The industrial base of the world is shrinking as the most highly trained and intelligent personnel emigrate to their dream worlds. Yet the colonization program proceeds pell-mell, as such programs and movements have always done, heedless of any warnings of collapse.

This is sheer folly. Mankind is like the beautiful dreamer of Tarot’s Key 0—the Fool—walking northwest with his gaze lifted in search of great experience while his feet are about to carry him off a precipice. He will have a great experience, oh yes! What high expectations these new worlds represent! What a marvelous goal to reduce Earth’s population painlessly to an appropriate level! But what disaster is in the making, because no reasonable controls have been placed on this adventure.

Yet there are redeeming aspects. At least the Fool
dreams and noble aspirations, and perhaps the capacity to recognize and choose between good and evil. It may be better to step off the cliff, his way, than to stay at home without ambition. The folly of future Earth is a complex matter, with many very noble and frustrating elements that may after all salvage its greatest potential.

This is the story of just one of those elements, a single thread of a monstrous tapestry: Brother Paul’s quest for the God of Tarot.



Emperor Decius was in power only a year, but in this time he cruelly persecuted the bothersome Christians. He seized one devout youth and coated his whole body with honey, then exposed him to the blazing sun and the stings of flies and hornets. Another Christian youth was given the opposite extreme: he was bound hand and foot by ropes entwined with flowers, naked upon a downy bed, in a place filled with the murmuring of water, the touch of soft breezes, the sight of sweet birds, and the aroma of flowers. Then a maiden of exceptionally fair form and feature approached him and bared her lovely flesh, kissing and caressing his body to arouse his manhood and enable her to envelop him in the ultimate worldly embrace. The youth had dedicated his love to God; to suffer this rapture with a mortal woman would have polluted him. He had no weapon with which to defend himself, yet his skill and courage proved equal to the occasion. He bit off his own tongue and spat it in the harlot’s face. By the pain of this wound he conquered the temptation of lewdness, and won for himself the crown of spiritual victory. Paul, himself sincerely Christian, witnessed these torments. Terrified, he fled into the desert, where he remained alone in the depths of a cave for the rest of his life. He thus became the first Christian hermit, and was known as Saint Paul the Hermit




The great blades of the windmill were turning, but the water was not pumping. Only a trickle emerged from the pipe, and the cistern was almost empty. It was a crisis, for this was the main source of pure water for the region.

Brother Paul contemplated the situation. “It’s either a lowering of the water table or a defect in the pump,” he said.

“The water table!” Brother James exclaimed, horrified. “We haven’t pumped
much!” His concern was genuine and deeply felt; the Brothers of the Holy Order of Vision believed in conservation, and practiced it rigorously. All had taken vows of poverty, and abhorred the wasting of anything as valuable as water.

“But there has been a drought,” Brother Paul said. Indeed, the sun was blazing down at this moment, although it caused no distress to his brown skin. “We might inadvertently have overpumped, considering this special circumstance.”

Brother James was a thin, nervous man who took things seriously. His long face worked in the throes of inchoate emotion. “If it be God’s will…”

Brother Paul noted his companion’s obvious anxiety, and relented. “Nevertheless, we shall check the pump first.”

The pump was a turning cam that transformed the rotary motion of the mill’s shaft into piston motion in a rod. The rod plunged down into the well to operate the buried cylinder that forced up the water. Brother Paul brought out plumber’s tools and carefully dismantled the mechanism, disconnecting the shaft from the vanes and drawing the cylinder from the depths. His little silver cross, hanging on a chain around his neck, got in his way as he leaned forward. He tucked it into his shirt pocket with a certain absentminded reverence.

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