The Prince: Lucifer’s Origins is a science fiction, coming-of-age adventure tale by prolific independent author J. M. Erickson, whose list of past releases include the award-winning Birds of Flight series. The Prince follows Sergeant Marcia Devin and her scrappy squad of combat veterans – disillusioned members of the royal army who are burdened with a dangerous, career-ending mission for disobeying questionable orders.
That mission is providing safe passage for the young prince Victor Venture IX of the royal family – whose radical opinions have drawn the hostility of the rest of his monarchical relations. In an attempt to stymie Prince Victor’s liberalism, monarchist forces converge on Sergeant Devin’s transport, seeking to put an end to Victor’s troublesome views before he comes into age and maturity. The prince’s life seems doomed to end in adolescence – but not if Sergeant Devin has anything to say about it. She will condemn the prince to Hell itself before allowing the death of her charge. On the ancient, savage world of Earth, Prince Victor will surely die…or become something Sergeant Devin can’t possibly imagine.
The Prince is a compelling novel of action, survival, and stark morality, where the struggles range from unique and personal to galaxy-shaking. Erickson’s creation is a fully realized place, and it results in a universe that is pleasantly complex. Various peoples, planets, societies, aliens, customs, and technologies populate the book, which creates a setting that feels viable and a depth that is palpable as the plot progresses.
A portion of Erickson’s cast of characters, such as primary character Victor Venture, are well presented. Providing a function in the story that realistically allows Prince Victor to talk to himself, thereby easily communicating information through dialogue, is particularly helpful in orienting readers with events. (Though the means of this communication, Rose, is a bit on the annoying side). The writing is intelligent, especially concerning technological advances and brain functions, and is adequately descriptive. Erickson writes like an author who is both familiar and comfortable with his writing style – and it shows.
Despite Erickson’s writing, however, characters (especially semi-secondary characters like Regina Devin) can sometimes come off as hard to relate to, and there are some long-running gags throughout the story that become more irritating than amusing. As for problems in the plot, the whole narrative seems a bit staged. Large portions of story, characters, etc. are taken straight from the Bible, and, as a caution to possible audiences, some readers may find the parallels drawn between a character known as Lucifer One and Jesus to be offensive.
The Prince: Lucifer’s Origins is a fast-paced, survivalist nail-biter, with a large helping of science fiction adventure, a dash of military action, and a pinch of coming-of-age drama. Science fiction enthusiasts will no doubt find The Prince entertaining, and there are elements enough of other genres to draw a readership from a far larger crowd. In spite of a plot that is not especially original, Erickson’s veteran writing chops set this novel apart from a big portion of the self-publishing pack.