to incompleteness. Battle Circle is a long, complex work, totaling over five hundred pages in the omnibus volume, yet the three component novels represent only a portion of Anthony's vision of postholocaust America; he originally planned two additional novels but, as he wrote in a recent letter, "the market was such that I never wrote them, and it does fit together nicely as a trilogy." 34 While it is interesting to speculate on how a five-part series might have been structured, the fact remains that Battle Circle as finally published retains the tripartite arrangement that ties it so closely with epic development.
Anthony noted that he did not consciously model the novels on the Homeric epics, nor had he read the Aeneid; but he conceded that he "could have drawn from a literary pool shaped by these epics." 35 In light of the close parallels in characterization, plotting, and development between classical epic and the three novels comprising Battle Circle, it seems a reasonable conclusion that Anthony did in fact draw from a "literary pool." The form and function of epic has become so integral a part of Western culture that Anthony may simply have intuited a logical structure for his experiment in defining and ordering a post- holocaust society. In his search for an ordering principle, he seems to have recognized the enormous power implicit in the epic tradition. He has constructed his fictive world in parallel with one of the most enduring and conventional of all literary traditions, re-creating in the scope of his trilogy the permutations in heroic characteristics that define epic. To read Battle Circle with this parallel in mind not only deepens one's enjoyment of the novel but broadens one's respect for Anthony's achievement. Three separate facets of the epic tradition are welded into a single unified whole during the course of the novels. Out of chaos his characters generate order; out of conventions of the old, Anthony draws something new. In Sos the Rope, Var the Stick, and Neq the Sword, we find new perspectives of what C. S. Lewis called the "doctrine of the unchanging human heart." 36 Through initial individual heroic action (the only responses left in a world devastated by humanity's stupidity and the cataclysmic results of technological irresponsibility), Anthony shows his world transforming as it works through painful intermediate stages before arriving at stability and finally at true civilization. To show this transformation of old into new, he in turn draws on the imagistic power of one of the oldest literary forms, the epic.