Reviewed by Sham Moore
Imagine you are a low level demon, and you’re going about your day, enjoying your cabbage and intestine soup after a long shift of causing a mortal to hit every red light possible on the way to their parent’s funeral when you get a message from your gossipy friend informing you that Lord Satan has been replaced as the ruler of Hell and is going on a mission to kill the Creator on his own. You proceed to laugh at how stupid the idea is, you don’t believe there is a creator, and you don’t think that (former) Lord Satan believes there is a creator either, thus you continue eating and you wonder what local child above you want to consume afterwards. The Conquest of Heaven A Demonic History of the Future Concerning the Celestial Realm and the Angelic Race Which Infests It is a collection of information, letters, and short stories detailing the life of Satan and his “loyal” followers as they plot to conquer the universe, and ultimately not being the most competent at the task.
Author Martin Olson is known for writing many children’s television series such as Rocko’s Modern Life and Phineas and Ferb, and the comedic tone presented in the Conquest of Heaven mirrors that same experience, but a little on the mature side. This book is a sequel to Olson’s 2011 work Encyclopaedia of Hell: An Invasion Manual for Demons Concerning the Planet Earth and the Human Race Which Infests It, but you can enjoy this story just fine without reading the previous text.
As one would expect from the egregiously long title, this book is not supposed to be taken seriously. This isn’t some version of a Satanist bible, or some cult required text, this is simply a fun take on the great evil that many religions strive to avoid. Satan is incompetent but driven by his insane superiority complex to conquer all. Think of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost, but Satan is idiotic, immature, and surprisingly not sure of his on place in the universe or where he comes from, which makes him fun to read, but also oddly relatable.
Satan isn’t the only character to follow in this demonic work, we also follow Lord Zyk of Asimoth, Satan’s former servant and Poet, who rises to be the editor of this Encyclopaedia and new Lord of Hell, who is completely infatuated by Sister Debbie of Krakow, otherwise known as the Harlot of Hereafter, and Rumored to Manipulate the Destiny of All that is. Due to her omnipotent position, Zyk cannot access her directly, thus he is working on his Hellcraft to time travel to a point to see her. It sounds ridiculous and childish, but it is just the right amount of insane most people can get behind.
The book can get confusing at times, not every sentence will make sense, rankings and character classes are really long and complicated, and character motivations are always switching up, but I think that adds to the charm of the book. Satan’s birth is explained as a universal event with a lot of moving parts accompanied by a map showing where the “human meat storage” is located. It’s hard to understand and can be confusing upon first reading, but that same feeling can be applied when someone reads the millions of translations of biblical texts. Things feel inconsistent and complicated, but pulling out your own meaning can be the most beneficial. Of course, don’t treat this comedy book as a religious piece, but if it feels complicated to you, don’t worry because that seems to be the intent.
Whether you are attempting to rule over all humanity by force, find out if angels are edible, or simply enjoy a hilarious time with a bunch of stupid bad guys, this is the book for you. Martin Olsen manages to bring so much personality to beings we should be fearing and praying to repel. This book may be more entertaining for people of Christian faith or former believers, but it is still recommended for everyone with the knowledge to know that this is fiction.