US Review of Books

Reviewed by Michael Radon

"Devin was clear of the rubble and had to make concerted efforts to avoid the still smoldering fires and beheaded bodies littering the campus."

Sergeant Marcia Devin is a career soldier with a sudden crisis of faith. Seeing the monarchy she defends committing human rights violations during an operation and refusing to participate has her demoted and disenfranchised. At the same time, Prince Victor Venture IX is set to begin preparing for ruling a system of his own, leaving the scholarly planet of Pax that he loves behind. With no interest in leaving, he is forced to make a change he does not want to. The paths of these two intersect with Devin to guard the prince and escort him from Pax, but she is instantly made aware through an ally that one of Victor's brothers intends to kill him during transport. Having to improvise, she and a small crew help Victor escape by sending him to the ruined planet of Hell, also known as Earth. What Victor experiences here will transform him emotionally and physically, and sets the stage for a coup against his family that will free citizens from the tyranny of the monarchy he was intended to ascend to.

Mixing classic literature, science fiction, and religious texts as its inspiration, the unique setting of this book is quick to stimulate the imaginations of its readers. The author separates this from typical messiah-oriented liberation fantasy by both avoiding and embracing the clichés that come with this kind of story. At the same time, by having a major piece of the action take place on the ruined surface of Earth, the far out story is able to root itself in the real-world events of human history that readers will be familiar with. With exciting action, a fantastical plot, and a handful of genuinely enjoyable characters, this book follows in the footsteps of the author's previous work, continuing to showcase his superb balance of the challenge his characters face and the ways they internalize it and interact with one another.