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Pearseus: Rise of the Prince (Volume 1) Paperback – November 19, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
- Joseph Long
"What I loved about these three books was the author's ability to weave in ancient Greek myths,cultural and historic influences; it felt like ancient Greece, complete with warring city-states, but set on a far-away planet."
- Catherine Mackay
From the Author
Politics. Murder. Betrayal.
Loosely based on the 5th BC Persian Wars, Pearseus mixes science fiction with epic fantasy and paranormal elements. From a grieving father who faces his darkest choice between revenge and honoring his vows, to a terrified boy struggling to find his way home, our heroes must overcome politics, murder, and betrayal as they become ever more embroiled in a war against an ancient enemy. A war that threatens to destroy the whole of humanity.
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Here the setting is an alien world . . . Well, it once was an alien world until the starship Pearseus landed there generations ago; its cargo of Earth colonists swarming across the temperate continent, making contact with the primitive, local inhabitants whom they dub the “First.”
War inevitably erupted. A conflict which sees the superior technology of the newcomers helping them overcome the “magic” of the First. The tribes of “Apes” — as some humans insultingly call the original inhabitants — being driven back into the less desirable areas of the planet, while the earth-ers spread out, forming new nations called simply the Capital, the New Capital, and the Democracies of the West.
As this story begins, the arrival of the Pearseus is already ancient history. The once mighty technology of the earth colonist long lost to age and lack of resources. Now, the world has sunk back to an ancient Greco-Roman level, supplemented by a few, surviving pieces of high tech. The three major regions of the world locked in a perpetual state of strife and war.
In the city-state of Anthea, the petty dictator Teo Altman finds himself being ousted from his seat of power. The people of the city tired of his autocratic rule, desperate to return their land to a democratic government. Teo plotting to reassert his control through deals with his political backers inside the city (the Bulls and the Sea Lions parties), his powerful friends and family as well as cutting deals with other nations.
Teo’s replacement as head of Anthea is the idealistic yet political suave Sol Walker. This irrepressible, optimistic, and driven young woman determined to keep out any dictators and take her city to heights of power undreamed by its forefathers. Personal tragedies might strike her and her loved ones, but she will not be stopped, even when it makes her the target of the most power nation in the world.
Within the halls of government of that most powerful of countries (The Capital), Justice Styx is slowly growing more unstable, power mad, and psychopathic in her behavior. Her insanity possibly caused by a shadowy being who visits her at night. All her venom focused upon her brilliant and loyal General Parad; her chosen target his young son Cyrus, who will soon be sacrificed upon the pyre of her growing paranoia.
And while politics destroys lives and changes fortunes among the earther nations, there are strange matters brewing far to the north among the First. A young warrior named Lehmor finding himself drawn to the sanctuary of the “Old Woman” who warns him of a coming struggle: A hidden war between the dreaded “Whispers” (who infect men’s minds with violence) and the “Orbs” (who are helpful spirits of harmony). The harbringer of this conflict the arrival of strangers from the south who Lehmor must aid — whatever the personal consequences.
The strength of Rise of the Prince is two-fold: Mr. Rossis’ flowing, concise writing and his brilliant use of ancient Greek history.
In my mind, not many indie authors pen a smoother, more readable story than Mr. Rossis. His writing style is crisp and clear, readily able to convey the mood of the characters as well as the world around them without bogging down in flowery description or useless wordiness. Definitely, a joy to read.
As for the incorporation of ancient Greek stories into the narrative, it is amazingly well done. Some history buffs might see the influences of the past in the ongoing Pearseus story, but the author mixes it into his own ideas so flawlessly that they become something new and original, reminding me very much of how Frank Herbert’s Dune series.
The only criticism I can level at Rise of the Prince is the fairly significant info dump at the beginning of the book. While Mr. Rossis finds a very plausible reason for this to take place and the necessity to provide this information to readers is obvious, I just felt that there was too much background given to me too quickly.
Overall, this was a wonderful introduction to the world of Pearseus. Filled with political machinations, personal tragedies, mystical overtones, and unexpected triumphs, this Dune-like science fiction epic is definitely a book worth giving a try.
The story was well-written and flowed well. Rossis knows how to write dialogue and prose.
Personally, I found Rossis' focus to be a little misplaced. Too often, the reader is abstracted away from what's really important. Too many of the scenes involve characters sitting around talking about what's going on rather than actually showing what's happening. Every other scene portrays character(s) talking about the ill-explained and ill-motivated war going on on a battlefield far, far away. I don't care much if I cant't see it. When the reader is actually immersed in the drama or action, the story shines.
The novel doesn't have a clear cut main protagonist, an approach I don't favor but an acceptable one that's becoming more and more popular. It wasn't until many chapters into the book that I got to know the key players and how they related to one another. The book offered a large cast and each chapter featured a different key player as the viewpoint character. I liked the approach, but it was still difficult to get know them all.
Parad, the head military commander of the most powerful land/country, was one of the more likeable and sensible characters. He acted as the voice of reason and constantly got the short end of the stick because of it. That made me emphathize with him big time. Teo was the stereotypical self-serving antagonist who would serve whichever side benefited him. He was interesting and helped to drive the story, but he didn't have enough truly vile or redeeming qualities to make me care about him. Justice Styx, the leader of the most powerful land/country, needed more background and redeeming qualities. She's essentially the Cersei Lannister of the story but without anywhere near the depth. As a result, I wasn't all that moved by her fate at the end. And of course the book is called Rise of the Prince, yet the rising prince, Cyrus, doesn't have much personality and plays too little a role until later in the story.
One thing that drove me crazy was the frequency with which characters smiled and smirked. It happened so frequently that it became laughable. I try to limit and pay close attention to the context in which my characters smile--especially smiling by my antagonists--to make sure they don't become cliche, cackling villains. In real life, people don't smile and feel all self-satisfied when they come up with a clever, unfoilable plot. No. They worry about whether or not the plan is actually going to work because failure has serious consequences.
Even after finishing the book, I still don't have a clear sense of the different lands/countries/governments and who represented each. To a certain extent, this was par for the course in a fantasy story. But some better explanations, simplification, and use of conventions to help me remember would have been helpful.
As the story went on, Rossis started devoting significant dialogue and prose to his personal philosophies. The book became overly preachy during these sections. I could've forgiven the pontification if it had driven the plot forward, but the story could have easily done without any of it.
I would classify this book as space fantasy, not science fiction. In my view, hard science fiction should be a redundant term. If you're not putting the "science" in science fiction, it's not science fiction. But others would certainly disagree. Rossis provided a smidgen of science when he explained why the days/months/years on his planet are longer. Otherwise, he simply included typical elements of sci-fi like energy swords and e-readers on a world where civilization had slipped back to a medieval level of progress after a colony ship crash-landed hundreds of years ago. High tech devices were in short supply and controlled by people in power, which was a fairly cool concept.
Unfortunately--and in disagreement with a handful of other reviewers--I found Rossis' marriage of supernatural/fantasy and science fiction elements to be awkward and off-putting. The author gives no explanation for how his spirits and demons (the non-scientific) can coexist with crashed space ships, e-readers, and other forms of tech (the scientific). Keep in mind that technology is the application of science (dictionary definition), so you can't have tech/science and fantasy without dealing with the contradictions. Typically, science fiction of such nature attempts to justify the existence of "spirits/ghosts" by referring to them as alien entities of pure energy, or something like that. Rossis made no such effort in RotP, which left me stewing over the issue throughout the novel.
Plot-wise, the major subplot of the prince rising to power completes about 80% of the way through the novel. Better development of Cyrus and Styx would've made this conclusion more gripping. Another major subplot was driven by the spirits' subtle intervention in human affairs; the last 20% of the book focused on this later angle. However, to the best of my recollection, Rossis never revealed the spirits' motivations by the end, which made for an unsatisfying conclusion. I'm sure that the sequels will yield more answers, but I believe the major subplots in a given novel need to be resolved within that same novel unless you're going to write "to be continued" at the end of the last chapter.
All in all, there was a lot to like. The story gripped my attention at times but started losing me toward the end, which is the opposite of what should happen. I cheer for and support fellow indie authors. This might not have been my favorite story, but I have little doubt other types of readers will enjoy it more than I did.