Genre: Science Fiction — Space Opera
Series: Pearseus #1
Publisher: Self-Published (November 18, 2013)
Length: 399 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
With Rise of the Prince, Nicholas C. Rossis does an amazing job of combining a science fiction setting with ancient Greek history to create a Dune-like story, filled with political scheming, mystical creatures, psychopathic murderers, and personal tragedies. The novel proving yet again that self-published works are just as good and just as professional as the traditionally published works.
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 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.