Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ishmael Covenant by Terry Brennan

I'm going to start by quoting the end of the "About the book" section I was given when asked if I was interested in reviewing Ishmael Covenant by Terry Brennan. "Fans of Joel C. Rosenberg, Steven James, and Ted Dekker will relish the deadly whirlpool of international intrigue and end-times prophecy in Ishmael Covenant--and will eagerly await the rest of this new trilogy."

I have enjoyed reading authors like Rosenberg, so that sentence grabbed me.  I was absolutely interested in reading this first book in the Empires of Armageddon series.

Here's the rest of what the publisher has to say:
His marriage in tatters and his career ruined by lies, Diplomatic Security Service agent Brian Mullaney is at the end of his rope. Banished to Israel as punishment by his agency, he's assigned to guard a US ambassador and an insignificant box. Little does he know that this new job will propel him straight into a crisis of global proportions.

Inside the box is a messianic prophecy about the fate of the world. And a dark enemy known as The Turk and the forces of evil at his command are determined to destroy the box, the prophecy, and the Middle East as we know it. When Ambassador Cleveland gets in the way, his life and his daughter's life are threatened--and Mullaney must act fast.

Now agents of three ancient empires have launched covert operations to secure nuclear weapons, in direct defiance of the startling peace treaty Israel and its Arab neighbors have signed. And a traitor in the US State Department is leaking critical information to a foreign power. It's up to Mullaney--still struggling with his own broken future--to protect the embassy staff, thwart the clandestine conspiracies, and unmask a traitor--before the desert is turned into a radioactive wasteland.
I read this book back right before all of the COVID stuff hit in the US, and I'm not exactly sure why I think that is important to tell you.  Mostly, I think that reading it again (which I will be doing) in light of current events is going to feel different, particularly in re-reading the point of view of the black male main characters.

As the description above indicates, this book is action-packed.  I found the first part of the book to be fairly confusing, as there were just so many characters and places to keep straight.  Once I got everyone more-or-less sorted out, the book was fabulous. I intended to read a couple more chapters at around that "sorted out" point, but I ended up finishing the book.  At 2 a.m.  Because I couldn't put it down.

Part of the confusion of the initial portion of the book undoubtedly had to do with the fact that the characters felt like real people.  They have personal struggles that relate to the plot, but they also have personal struggles that (so far) don't directly relate to the main conflict in the story.  I appreciate that.

Let me throw in a bit from an author interview about the historical aspect of this book.

Q: How do aspects of actual history come together with a fictional modern-day story in your book?

There are numerous threads of actual history woven throughout the plot, threads that become critical catalysts in the unfolding of Ishmael Covenant and the rest of the series.

The story of the Vilna Gaon—Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman (1720–1797)—that launches the narrative is accurate in all its historical elements. He was the foremost Talmudic scholar of his age and a renowned genius on both sacred and secular learning. The story of the Gaon’s prophecy about Russia and Crimea, revealed by his great-great-grandson in 2014, is true and led many to believe that the coming of the Jewish Messiah was near at hand. The Gaon did attempt three trips to Jerusalem from his native Lithuania; the last one, only a few years before his death, ended prematurely in Konigsberg, Prussia. All of that history is extensively integrated into the story arc that plays out over all three books. The story of the Gaon’s prophecy is a product of my own imagination.

The ancient biblical conflict between the nation of Israel and the people of Amalek—the descendants of Abraham and Ishmael—is a fundamental element in the conflict driving the series. Other historically accurate elements of the book include the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq in 2014, the worldwide confiscation of Iranian financial assets following the hostage crisis in 1979, NATO’s nuclear sharing project which still has sixty-one nuclear bombs in bunkers at the Incirlik Airbase, the geopolitical weapon that water has become in the Middle East, the history of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem, and the history of the Jews in Turkey. All were vital to the development of this fictional series.

I have to say that the situation they are all in, with this end-times prophecy, seemed a bit far-fetched, even if much of it is grounded in historical fact.  It is not, however, so far out there that it kept me from buying the political intrigue and covert operations drama.

Now I anxiously wait for the next book -- Persian Betrayal -- to come out. Because this ending just left me needing to know what happens next.  Watch for my review in August!

I received a copy of this book from the I Read with Audra blogger program. The review is my own opinion.

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