aka Carmine "Red" Zuigiber, aka Scarlett

War by Linn StandalAnd when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

— Revelation 6:3-4, King James edition

In the Good Omens universe, War isn’t a man, but a woman, who calls herself Scarlett (44) or Carmine Zuigiber (98). “Her hair was true auburn, neither ginger nor brown, but deep and burnished copper-color, and it fell to her waist in tresses that men would kill for, and indeed often had. Her eyes were a startling orange. She looked twenty-five, and always had” (44). She has an air of danger about her: her voice sounds like “something that lurks in the long grass, visible only by the twitching of its ears, until something young and tender wobbles by” (45), her laugh is like “machine-gun stutter” (314), and though she’s described as beautiful, it’s “the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close” (104).

That air of danger never warns off anyone quite in time. “People were always fighting, over her, and around her,” War thinks, early in the book. “It was rather sweet, really” (46). When we first see her, as Scarlett, she’s selling arms capable of turning “a minor civil war […] into a major civil war” (44). As Carmine Zuigiber, she’s “the most successful war correspondent in the world,” who goes “where the wars weren’t. She’d already been where the wars were” (98). But these come across as excuses. “She never stuck with one job for very long. Three, four hundred years at the outside. You didn’t want to get in a rut” (44). War by Julie DillonWhat she really does is create conflict. She can take “an African nation which had been at peace for the last three thousand years” (44) and destroy it within a week because “I could do with a holiday anyway” (45). Her next holiday, on a Mediterranean island, “split the country into three factions, destroyed the statue of Santa Maria in the town square, and [did] for the tourist trade.” Even on her way to the rendevous with the Horsepeople, she amuses herself by allowing traveling salesmen to try to race her, “and bits of Ford Sierra now decorated the crash barriers and bridge supports along forty miles of motorway” (233).

There’s no sense that she regards the people around her as anything other than playthings for her amusement. She’s polite enough if she talks to someone, but the closest to prolonged interaction with anyone besides the other Horsepeople is with her (human) fellow war correspondents: “Ms. Zuigiber just smiled and bought another round of drinks for everybody, on the National World Weekly. And watched the fights break out around her. And smiled” (100). Only with the Horsepeople does she act anything like human, comparing Armageddeon to “waiting for Christmas. Or birthdays.” When Famine reminds her that the Horsepeople don’t have birthdays, she retorts, “I didn’t say we do. I just said that was what it was like” (236).

Once the Horsepeople have entered the base, that humanity seems to intensify, although that may be because the snippets we get are from her point of view. War is “surprised at her natural affinity for modern weapons systems, which were so much more efficient than bits of sharp metal” (301). The weapons she sold earlier were merely “guns and ammunition and land mines” (45); this is electronics, “but when she ran her fingers over and sometimes through the electronics there was a familiar feel. It was an echo of what you got when you held a sword, and she felt a thrill of anticipation at the thought that this sword enclosed the whole world and a certain amount of the sky above it, as well. It loved her” (302). Her humanity falls away, although her visible transformation seems to have been less marked than either Famine’s or Pollution‘s: the only description we’re given is that her skin “glistened with sweat,” (310) and that, like Famine and Pollution, “there was no more than a hint of human about [her] now — [she] seemed to be [a] humanoid shape made up of all the things [she] was or represented” (313).

She is the first Horseperson to be taken down, probably because she attempts to defy Adam‘s decision against joining them. “Little boys, playing with your toys. Think of all the toys I can offer you… think of all the games. I can make you fall in love with me, little boys. Little boys with your little guns” (314). When Pepper (who is emphatically not a boy) steps forward with her not-exactly-a-sword, War accepts the challenge immediately. But the instant the two swords touch, “there was a flash [… and] a pathetic jingling noise” (315).

She has gone “where they belong […] where they have always been. Back in the minds of man” (315). There is no indication as to whether she can return in human form.

Edition referenced in this article: US Ace paperback (1990)
Written by Thia