Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Four Horsemen

The harbingers of Christian Apocalypse: in the Bible's Revelation vi they are Conquest, War, Famine and Death (though only the last is named), their horses being respectively white, red, black and – most famously – "pale". Popular iconography substitutes Pestilence for Conquest, as does fantasy in general. The Horsemen are noted for their doom-laden symbolic appearances in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), the silent World War I movie starring Rudolph Valentino. Revisionist Fantasy updates include Nancy Springer's Apocalypse (1989), which features Four Horsewomen, and Neil Gaiman's and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens (1990), where Pestilence has yielded to Pollution and the riders are now bikers. [DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.