Book Review: Jihad’s Messiah

Since signing with Risen Books, I’ve undertaken to read every release in the house. Not too hard, since they’re a brand new company; but they’re issuing new titles every couple months, so the collection is growing.

Scheduled for release this fall is Nick Daniels’ second fictional work (I reviewed his debut novel here), the first in a promising new series:

The Jihad’s Messiah
by Nick Daniels
Jihad Series, Book 1
344 pages
ISBN 978-1-936835-06-5
Publisher: Risen Books
Release: Fall, 2011

A sort of Left Behind gone Arabic, the story opens in 2024 Iraq, approximately three and a half years after the Rapture. A devout Muslim and a major general in the Iraqi army, Farid Zadeh is an avid admirer of Caliph Al-Mahdi, the charismatic leader of Iraq. Enjoying an astonishing rise to power and calling himself “the Awaited One,” the caliph promises to convert the world to Islam—a goal the loyal Farid approves of.

He also hopes to be promoted soon, and looks forward to being the point of Al-Mahdi’s spear. But Brigadier General Hussai has similar ambitions. When he falsely accuses Farid of being not only a Zionist but also a spy for Russia, Farid flies to Jerusalem, seeking to prove his loyalty to Al-Mahdi and to Allah.

No grass grows under his feet, and the pages turn fast as the reader races with Farid to vindicate himself. But before he succeeds, Al-Mahdi’s united Arab states attack Israel, putting Farid on the wrong side of both parties in this new war. That’s bad for Farid, but good for the reader, as the tension ratchets up another notch.

The entire story is written in present tense. The protagonist’s scenes are written in first person; the rest are in third person. Some might like this method. Personally, I’m okay with the present tense part, but the switch between first- and third-person points of view distracted me, and I had to pause to get my bearings at every transition.

Though I’m not a fan of apocalyptic fiction as a rule, this adventure, daring on the part of the author as well as the protagonist, paints a fairly likely scenario–including the projected dates. Readers familiar with biblical prophecy will recognize and anticipate a number of events, nodding, “Ah, yes. That sounds about right.” But however you feel about end-times prophecy, you’ll find the book a wild ride.

I won’t spoil the conclusion, but I do want to share with you my favorite line, which comes near the end. A Christian Bedouin is speaking to a Jewish woman about his faith, and she reminds him a person doesn’t change religions without good reason. She asks, “Why would I become a Christian?”

His answer: “Jesus loves you.”

Predictably, the end of this book isn’t the end of the story; the conclusion leaves you hungry for the next volume in the series. I plan to snap it up as soon as it’s available—and the only thing I can imagine preventing me from doing so would be if the Rapture occurs before it’s released.

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