3 out of 4 stars
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"How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!"
- Isaiah 14:12.
Nearly everyone, Christian or not, has heard of this passage from the Holy Bible that tells the story of Lucifer's fall from literal grace. However, aside from a few other sparse passages in the Word, there's not much else that we know about the fallen angel. As usual, the sacred book is short on details, so this is where authors Anthony Dean Jr. and and Bonita R. Green come in. Their book, Lucifer, Son of the Morning, is speculative historical fiction that "fills in the blanks" on some things that we of the Christian faith question. 'HOW exactly was iniquity "found" in Lucifer? How could he POSSIBLY think that he'd win against the almighty God? HOW did he convince one-third of the angels in Heaven to rebel?' The authors seek to answer these questions, and more, in this tome.
As anyone who has perused my reviews knows, I love tales that elaborate on Biblical occurrences, and it was no different with this story. Lucifer, Son of the Morning takes us from the time when the angel was perfect and the leader of God's choir to his fallen state, just before he becomes "like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour". The sweeping tale describes Lucifer's love for his brothers, Michael and Gabriel, as well as his reverence for Jehovah. Then we find the iniquity within him, and that's when all Heaven - there was no Hell yet - breaks loose. Aside from a few (to me) questionable timelines, the tale pretty much follows events in Heaven as we know them. I especially liked the scene where the estranged angel enchanted a snake in the garden, thereby causing it to speak to Eve and urge her to eat of the forbidden fruit. I also really enjoyed the scenes where Lucifer, Michael, and Gabriel playfully spar; these scenes actually made me shiver because they were like fun omens of what was to come.
Knowing the story of Lucifer's fall, I have to admit that I was on pins and needles during the early part of the book; as much as I enjoyed reading about Lucifer as a devout and loving angel, I was also constantly waiting for the shoe to drop. I'll note here that it's always fascinated and puzzled me how such a perfect and divine being could turn into the evil and malicious entity that we now know as Satan or the devil. I think Mr. Dean Jr. and Ms. Green did a fine job creating a possible journey from one point to the other. I was a little troubled by a few events that I didn't think correctly lined up compared to actual events, but I was also aware of a little something called "artistic license", so I let those things slide.
I also greatly enjoyed reading about Michael and Gabriel as actual entities with their own personalities and idiosyncrasies. Meeting other angels that I'd previously only heard of in passing, like Uriel, also delighted me. I was, however, a little disappointed that God's description was the cliché - long flowing beard, white robes, etc. - that we have all come to know and that He was more aloof than I think of Him as being. In addition, the tale was littered with many other characters, such as the cherub, Azrael, that I believe were there to further fill the story out. Azrael was an angel who was a close friend to Lucifer before becoming much more and then possibly giving birth to the phrase "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned", though "Heaven" may be more appropriate in this instance. Stregnthol was a creature from an old created world who was much like a lion in appearance but walked upright; I found him fascinating from the moment of his introduction. The one person I missed most was Jesus, whom I believe was as much a part of things as Lucifer and God. He only received one line that mentioned that He was "planned" but not yet born. One thing that DID give me great joy was the authors' description of Adam and Eve as having "ebony" skin. From everything I've read, the Garden of Eden was in a location where the inhabitants would not have been fair-skinned like they're portrayed in popular art, so I actually stood up and applauded when I read the authors' description. Still, as much as I enjoyed the characters and their descriptions - even the angels who would eventually fall with Lucifer - I did find myself frowning at some of the things they did when they were still perfect. For instance, I don't believe that they drank wine or slept. Again, though, I am willing to chalk it up to artistic licence.
Even after reading the Bible, which gives some descriptions, I'm sure that one wonders just what Heaven DOES look like. While the authors created many of the surroundings out of necessity, they sounded entirely plausible to me, and I could fully picture every place that the authors led me to. From Jehovah and Lucifer's plush abodes to Saguel's less opulent residence, I was constantly filled with wonder. The descriptions of first, second, and third Heaven as well as "third dawn" also made my head dance with vivid illustrations. I especially liked that the authors had a tendency to make up gems and fruits that are unknown to us, as if they're for Heaven only.
Sometimes reading familiar stories can become somewhat boring, even when they're elaborated upon, so I greatly admired the authors' way with words. They were fanciful without being overly so, and I felt like they added believablility to the heavenly tale. "She was becoming entangled in a web she had not even meant to spin, the strings of which became stickier by the moment" was one sentence that I especially enjoyed. With that being said, the divine beings spoke with a lot of "thou", "thine", and "thee" pronouns, and I wasn't sure as to the correctness of their use. Still, it wasn't overly done, and it didn't make the reading as difficult as something like Shakespeare would be.
Before I give my final rating, I'll note that I'm not 100% sure if I got the correct .pdf copy of this book. The file had what I presume to be editor's notes in the right-hand margin, but due to the numerous amount of errors in the book, I think I received the pre-correction copy. It should also be noted that the missteps I noticed were actually different than the ones that the presumed-editor mentioned, so I don't know how far into the correction process the authors and editor actually were. The mistakes I noted included sentence fragments, misspellings, incorrect verb tenses, incorrect words (like "reassembled" when it should have been "resembled"), incorrect punctuation, extra and/or missing words, and extra or missing quotation marks. There were also many sentences that were so awkwardly worded that I couldn't make heads or tales of what the sentence meant. "This new protégé of his was more than an explanation, and better than an apology ground growling, Lucifer tossed scroll after scroll to the golden one" was one such sentence. There were a few inconsistencies as well. Azrael was sometimes spelled as "Azreal", and Chapters 64-70 seemed to have been misplaced; they would have made more sense had they been placed just before Chapter 58. Additionally, even though it wasn't technically wrong, I was saddened that certain words - like "Heaven" and "He" when referring to God - began with lower-case letters throughout the text.
After considering everything, I'm awarding Lucifer, Son of the Morning 3 out of 4 stars due to the myriad typographical mishaps. Even though there were several things that I disagreed with as well, I found the tale to be entrancing overall. It also made me think about myself and the ways that I fall short, and I consider it a "win" when a book can do that.
I think that Christians and possibly people of other faiths would enjoy this tome as would persons who may be curious about Christianity or Biblical yarns. Readers who enjoy fleshed-out tales based on Biblical accounts may also like this book. Lastly, if you like tales of strategy and war and don't mind a spiritual slant to the story, this one may be for you. One word of warning - while it's never graphic, there actually are several sexual situations to be found in this book. Obviously, there's also a fair amount of violence in the story.
So let it be written.
Lucifer Son of the Morning
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