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First, the caveat. This is the first book in a series about the possible coming of Armageddon. Not the secular type of Armageddon as in One Second After, but the religious type of Armageddon and thus the book comes with a religious viewpoint. That view is not heavy-handed but there are what appear to be miracles as well as visions in this book and readers may want to know about that before purchasing the book. Further this book is about good and evil in the traditional absolute sense, not the relative sense, and is clear about which is which. I find that view refreshing but some readers may find it upsetting.
This book is characterized as a political thriller but,it is not, like most, full of murder, mayhem, spying and miraculous escapes. This book is a wonderful story of the escape of two families from revolutionary Iran, the rise to adulthood of what come to be the main characters in the series and the simultaneous effort of the Iranian government to develop and use nuclear weapons. Added into this mix is the appearance of someone calling himself the “12th Imam”. Toward the end of the book, as the Iranian efforts meet with success, the various characters end up coming together in one form or another. Do not mistake what I am saying. This is not “The Waltons”and there is enough spying and murder to make it suspenseful, but the book is greater than just that.
The main strength of this book is the development of the characters of some of the main people in the series. Their stores feel real, the characters seem real and the author has done a wonderful job of creating characters who we can and do care about. The story of both David and his girlfriend Marseilles, is sweet and as American as any childhood from that time. Their families seem real and their problems seem real. The Iranian characters seem less real but only, I suspect, because their world seems less real to those of us in the West than the world we are familiar with. But the book is sprinkled with what are viewed as miracles by those involved and those events set the course of the characters as they grow to adulthood.
The book is complete stand-alone story and can be read as just that. Many events are left untold since there are more books to come in this series, but we are not left at the precipice wondering what happened during the last set of events. I cared enough about the people involved to want to buy and read the next book in the series (in fact I first bought the second book in the series and, while I fell in love with it, I realized that parts of the book made no sense without having read the first book in the series. I then put it aside and bought and read this book).
Christopher Lane, who narrates this book, does a wonderful job. The characters are easily recognized by their voices without us having to be told who they are. He does not seem to stumble over either the Iranian or Arabic names and his presentation is clear, clean and engaging. In short, it is first class.
While I think this book is wonderful I want to again caution those who find religious viewpoints as either offensive or silly that this may not be the book they want. The religious views of the people in this book and the religious events surround them are crystal clear. This is not the Left Behind series, but neither is it James Bond. It is, at least in my view, one of the finest “thrillers” I have ever read and I look forward to the remaining books in the series.
45 of 50 people found this review helpful
This was a great book, good narration that kept the suspense level until the very last 30 minutes. A couple twists and then....cliff hanger! Frustrating ending but the good news is the sequel will be out in October per the author's website. I will definitely be reading the next one.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful