While I love historical fiction and I tend to gravitate towards those that involve Tudor kings and queens, I usually shy away from contemporary fiction—even if it has a historical or political focus. I was unsure as to how much I would enjoy reading Ishmael Covenant: Empires of Armageddon # 1 by Terry Brennan. So, I prayed over the decision to join the Book Review Tour. I am very happy that I requested to be part of Ishmael Covenant's release and that I was chosen to review Terry Brennan's book published by Kregel Publications.
When I first opened the book and saw a map of the Middle East and its surrounding area (as well as a cast of characters), I was worried. Sometimes, when there are that many characters, I get lost and confused while reading. This was not the case while reading Ishmael Covenant. I discovered that each character came to life for me. I wanted to know what was happening to them. So much so that when Brian Mullaney received a letter that upset him, I skipped and scanned ahead so I could see what was written in the letter. (I never do this; that is, I never skip ahead in a story because I don't like spoilers.) Alas, I have to wait till the next book to really see what was in the letter but Brennan does give his readers an idea as to what it contained.
What to Expect from Ishmael Covenant
The book is categorized a fiction, Christian, and suspense. I agree completely. It is a wonderful, suspenseful story of 298 pages. From the prologue set in 1784 Prussia to the closing pages set in 2014 Jerusalem, Ishmael Covenant really is a page turner. At the heart of this story is a 250-year-old prophecy written in code by the Vilna Gaon that is being transferred to the Rabbinate Council of Israel who are at the Hurva Synagogue. No one knows what the prophecy says—only that it is connected to the coming of the Messiah. Does this refer to the second coming of Jesus or the Jewish Messiah? No one really knows but it does encourage the reader to think of the end times prophecies and Scriptures.
The main characters are woven together in a plot that involves the box that contains the prophecy and a plan being set in motion by the nations of the Middle East. How will the US Ambassador Cleveland handle all these responsibilities that have been thrust upon him? It is clear that he relies upon God's assistance and wisdom especially as his life and the life of his daughter, Palmyra, are threatened. Readers also meet a member of the Diplomatic Security Service, Brian Mullaney, who also puts his faith in God even at his most trying times.
What Did I Think?
I really enjoyed reading Ismael Covenant: Empires of Armageddon # 1 by Terry Brennan. This was yet another fantastic book that I have read recently that I could not put down. I wanted to see what would happen in the next section, the next chapter, and so on. As the story of the Turk and the box unravels, I wanted to know what the plans were to keep the Ambassador and the box safe, as well as how far would the leaders of the Middle East nations go to bring about peace. And how does this peace tie into the prophecies?
I appreciated that at the start of each section Brennan provided the location, date, and time. This helped with a fast-moving plot. I was also very happy to read the author's notes (located after the story but I read them while I was in the middle of story and none of the plot-line was given away). It was great to read that while Ishmael Covenant is fiction, there is a lot of true details in the plot-line. The Vilna Gaon (Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman) was a real Talmudic scholar who wrote a prophecy that was revealed in 2014. However, his second prophecy is the result of Terry Brennan's imagination. But even though there is no actual second prophecy, it does not make Ishmael Covenant any less intriguing or thought-provoking.
Finally, I found the discussion of prophecies and the end of the world very interesting, if scary. I completely sympathized with Palmyra when she said, "How can we be safe – ever be safe – if we're staring down the end of the world?" (280).
I recommend Terry Brennan's novel Ishmael Covenant to readers of Christian fiction who enjoy suspense, political books, tales set in the present-day Middle East, or stories that weave Biblical prophecies into them. I think it would fit well on the shelves of many readers. It was a quick read and one that I think I will re-read again. I eagerly await the second book in the series, Persian Betrayal.
"Terry Brennan is the award-winning author of The Sacred Cipher, The Brotherhood Conspiracy, and The Aleppo Code, the three books in The Jerusalem Prophecies series. His latest release, Ishmael Covenant is the first in his new series, Empires of Armageddon."
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