cover image The Willing Spirit

The Willing Spirit

Piers Anthony. Tor Books, $22.95 (287pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86266-4

Bestselling fantasist Anthony (Yon Ill Wind) collaborates with the lesser-known Tella (Sundered Soul, 1990) to cook up a tale of light eroticism and occult adventure inspired by mythic Indian tales including the Ramayana. Mohini, the beautiful goddess of love, and the god Ravana, ugly and cruel and lustful, gamble over the fate of a human named Hari. If Hari, with Mohini's help, can seduce (or be seduced by) seven women before Ravana can get him killed, Mohini will win a century of peace from Ravana; if not, she'll owe the dark god ""a century of erotic frenzy."" Despite Ravana's best efforts, Hari's life rarely seems to be at serious risk, with the ensuing story emphasizing the human's romantic adventures and misadventures with lovers, including a servant girl, a she-demon, a man-hating priestess of Kali and an invisible ghost. Finally, political plots are uncovered, and Hari, rescued from Ravana's last trap, marries the only partner suitable after such escapades. This smooth confection provides spirited entertainment for adults and just enough sexual detail to interest Anthony's large adolescent readership. (Dec.)