As I’ve mentioned several times, I listen to readers. I do read your reviews and emails, and I try to respect what each of you has to say about your impressions of my fiction. When one of you is frustrated by your experience, I mull your words over, and I do my best to grow as an author so that one day, you and I can enjoy a relationship together–one that doesn’t drive you up a wall.
For the most part, that means that in future works, I keep your advice and criticisms in mind and try to use that to improve my ability to connect with you. However, there have been 4-5 reviews across LibraryThing and Goodreads that expressed some very specific frustrations with Lucifer’s Odyssey that I felt I should try to address with a re-release, including changes to the paperback (which can be expensive).
So, let’s outline a few of these problem areas, and I’ll relate the changes that were made and why.
Problems as stated from the reviews:
1.) Being thrust into a situation that is hard to piece together in the beginning, and a strange setting that is so different from established canon of Lucifer and Jehovah that it is jarring and difficult to follow.
2.) Tonal and humor problems, generally associated with Sariel.
3.) The quick romance between Lucifer and Anne.
4.) The number of creatures that die in the story, and how it shows lack of literary skill, seemingly because good authors can do more with less deaths.
What I’m doing to address these
Problems 2 and 3 are covered in my blog post here. The third stands as/is in the novel. It’s a fast courtship, but these are royalty who are bred/raised for that purpose. I think that the real problem with this started earlier, and I believe it specifically began when my editor and I decided to show instead of tell throughout the first chapter.
In the original draft I pitched to my editor, there were lots of flashback and backstories in the first chapter. Beelzebub’s attempt at leaving Earth and the annihilation of Lucifer’s legion were all given sections at the very beginning, which interrupted the action of the first chapter. Derek and I had a bit of back-and-forth about it, but he encouraged me to do far more showing than telling in the chapter, and I rewrote it according to his suggestions. He was definitely right, btw, but I think readers are also right that with a story this different in setting, it will help readers come up to speed with a bit more explanation (certainly more than is done in the Author Note concerning the primals and their projections).
Below, you’ll find the additions I’ve made to this edition. They represent a very small portion of the overall story, but I hope they may help new readers immerse themselves better in the story.
From Chapter 1: An Earthly Imprisonment. I’ve emboldened the changes.
“So, what brings you to Nashville?”
“Lookin’ for the devil,” Michael said after downing another swig from a Yazoo pale ale.
Adrian, the bartender, leaned in close enough to whisper. “How will you be able to tell him from the rest of the room?”
“Horns, red body, the usual …”
“I would have remembered that kind of guy,” Adrian laughed as he sloshed a wet rag down on the polished wooden bar, picked up some left over pilsners, and wiped away the condensation rings. “But this is Music City, and we get people slinkin’ in from all over.”
Michael watched four males enter The End of the Line bar and recognized each of them immediately. His brother Lucifer and uncle Batarel cast sidelong glances at the TVs as they looked for four open seats, while his runt of a brother Sariel bumped into just about every woman at the bar, offering apologies and the promise of a drink to make up for it. Azazel, Lucifer’s bodyguard, looked directly at Michael, causing him to divert his gaze for a moment.
“Toss me another beer,” Michael called to the bartender.
“You got it.”
The demons wore leather jackets, t-shirts, and jeans, but their human disguises couldn’t fool Michael. Lucifer came so close to him that Michael could have run his hands over his brother’s stubbly brown hair, and Sariel came even closer as he managed to press a woman into Michael during his search for a number. A couple of the women pulled at Sariel’s long, wavy brown hair, but he made excuses and caught up with his brother.
Batarel’s shaved head and assorted facial scars attracted a lot of looks and even a few praises from drunken men for his service to their country. He smiled and nodded in return but followed closely behind Lucifer, as did Azazel, who was wearing a baseball cap and eyeing everyone around him warily.
The demons weren’t the only ones incognito. Michael knew that none of his family members would recognize him without using pattern magic. Jehovah had raised Michael from the Hall of Souls into the body of a forty-year-old human, so he looked nothing like he used to. But this was no ordinary body; it had all the strength of his old demon form, and he could feel the tendrils of his wings moving under the skin of his back.
(CHANGE 1)He looked around at the many humans who drank and partied, unaware they were in the midst of a civil war—a conflict rooted in millions of years of disagreement, politics and strife between parents, siblings and cousins.
“The Apocalypse is almost here,” Lucifer said, draping his arm around Sariel and grinning from ear to ear. “Just one more year until we’re out of here.”
“Keep your voice down,” Batarel said, shaking his head.
“Yeah, Luke,” Sariel said, pointing down at a large belt buckle that said Everything’s bigger in Hell. “Subtlety, brother. Subtlety.”
Lucifer put Sariel in a headlock, gave him a noogie, and pulled him toward the back of the bar. “After 200,000 years of being trapped on this rock, I can’t help but be excited. We’ll finally be able to look our father in the face and tell him that we avenged his son’s death.”
Michael laughed. His brothers hadn’t avenged anyone—least of all him. Michael was alive and well, reincarnated through the Hall of Souls, and everything was going according to Jehovah’s plan.
(CHANGE 2) Yet here his brothers were, once again, over confident in their abilities and mouthing off about their success in thwarting Jehovah. The last time they had bragged about besting him, Lucifer had inadvertently released all of the shadows of the Order Primal into Earth’s stratosphere. Of course, it was Jehovah who had the last laugh when 25,000 demons of the First Legion burned to dust when they tried to leave the atmosphere and hit that supernatural shadow barrier. And in the blink of an eye, Michael had been joined by the confused spirits of thousands of new recruits in the Hall of Souls.
He wondered if Lucifer would have that same bewildered, shattered look when he realized Jehovah had beaten him again. He imagined Sariel’s smirk vanishing when the assassin grasped that this armegeddon the demons had launched would be the harbinger of Chaos’s doom. He chuckled at the thought of his brother sobering, but then he remembered that Sariel was a lost cause.
If his younger brother wasn’t plotting to kill someone for the Council, Sariel was almost assuredly drinking and taking liberties with the wives and daughters of important, dangerous demons in Alurabum. That had been his life for almost a million Chaos years before getting himself trapped on Earth. Since then, Michael had watched him cavort with the wives and daughters of unimportant, impotent humans instead. In truth, Sariel was as eternally corrupt and devoid of responsibility or righteousness as Jehovah was unerringly meticulous and tenacious.
And just as no demon was as pampered and coddled as either of his brothers, no one was more brilliant and calculating than Jehovah. Soon, the other sons of Ostat would have another refresher course in humiliating inadequacy—lessons Michael knew only too well. But even as much as he resented the favor and prestige that Lucifer had always enjoyed as the Crown Prince, this was one time Michael didn’t want Jehovah to fully succeed. Chaos was still his home, even if he never planned to return.
Batarel caught him gawking, so Michael nursed his drink and pretended to look elsewhere. His scarred uncle motioned the others to a nearby table, and Lucifer shook off a couple of seating suggestions before pointing to a table at the far corner of the bar.
Between Lucifer’s group and Michael were a dozen patrons, all of whom were oblivious to the fact that four demons and an archangel were within feet of them. CHANGE 3: Along with these humans, trillions of creatures throughout the universe would be collateral damage when the apocalypse hit. As an immortal, he steeled himself to the losses as they all did. In a universe where a common supernova tended to destroy multiple solar systems, trillions of deaths were the norm.
“Doesn’t matter,” Michael said to himself. “They’ll be back again soon enough anyway.”
Explanation for changes and what I hope to convey
CHANGE 1: Michael looks around himself and pities the humans who don’t realize they are in the middle of a civil war amongst the Kadingir clan. Hopefully, this simple “tell” sets the story up a little better. It tells the reader two things: 1) this is fiction and should be read as such (it’s certainly not replacing the Bible), and 2) we need to change our perception of the war and relationship between Lucifer and Jehovah a bit to become comfortable in this fiction.
CHANGE 2: Michael sees his brothers as pampered and in need of lessons. It also makes clearer his motivations in revealing the assault on Chaos. We previously showed this through interactions between the brothers in the 1-3 chapters, but this should help the reader, with little telling, understand what’s going on in this family dynamic and give a good indication that Jehovah is more than capable of handling the Crown Prince in counter-strategy. It should also help establish Michael’s mindset better about why he’s fighting against Lucifer and Sariel. Lastly, it introduces the reader to Sariel and the type of depravity and carelessness with which he approaches eternity. I hope this last focus will help with the majority of the tonal problems and the problem some people seem to have with finding Sariel believable–that immortals could exist and still act juvenile. Sariel is definitely a complex character, and he definitely frustrates people around him–especially Lucifer, who is often a target of Sariel’s mirth.
CHANGE 3: This hopefully addresses the problem at least one reader had with number of deaths. The story doesn’t kill off millions because I believe such numbers will produce more sympathy with a reader. The story killed off millions because a catastrophic event, one that mimics the scale of a supernova but interdimensionally, happened, and the reader needs to get as used to this scale of death and destruction as immortals would have to be. It’s quite common for an ER doctor, for instance, to become numb to most death and dismemberment after seeing it frequently. It’s a coping mechanism. By telling readers that this coping mechanism exists, hopefully the reader will be more prepared for it when we “show” this mechanism at work later on during the Battle of Bulger’s Pass and the Uldram catastrophe. In the universe, death happens and it happens at scale–unfortunately. Killing only one or two characters instead of millions would not fit with the scale of events I foresaw in the series (or the universe in general–e.g., supernovas, hypernovas, and gamma ray bursts).
Older copy turn-in
If you’ve purchased Lucifer’s Odyssey and Amazon will not let you exchange your copy for the newest edition, please send me the edition at rexjameson at gmail.com, so I know you purchased it, and I will send you a new edition at no charge within the next 30 days. Any proof of purchase is acceptable, even if you’ve returned the book to Amazon. Some type of receipt, for instance, will be just fine.