Tensions are rising in the Middle East. Iran’s president vows to annihilate the United States and Israel. Israel’s prime minister says someone must hit Iran’s nuclear sites “before it’s too late”. The American president warns against a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities and says negotiations are the key to finding peace.
And amid it all, rumors are swirling throughout the region of a mysterious religious cleric claiming to be the Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam. Word of his miracles, healings, signs, and wonders is spreading like wildfire.
CIA operative David Shirazi was born for this moment. He is recruited and sent into Tehran with one objective: use all means necessary to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, without leaving American fingerprints and without triggering an apocalyptic new war.
But time is running out.
©2010 Joel C. Rosenberg (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“Ripped from the headlines — next year’s headlines.” (Washington Times)
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.
SPOILERS MAY BE CONTAINED HERE! But if you don't want to waste a credit, you should probably read this! The book starts out great and the reader/narrator does a few great accents and paints excellent pictures with his voice. The story starts before the lead character is even born, and continues briefly on to where the lead character is a young man on a fishing trip to Canada, and has a juvenile one-night-stand. Then a flash forward romp through the middle east on a near nuclear apocalyptic journey, with the young man as a CIA operative, interspersed with a "not very credible" CIA operative involved in an unlikely shootout, followed by a not very credible Islamic cleric's conversion to Christianity, followed by a return home, and then story ends, with no resolution to the impending nuclear disaster that the story leads up to throughout the previous 14.5 hours. There is nothing resolved about the 12th Imam. What happened to the main story line??? In fact, none of the story lines are resolved. I am sitting here, just having finished the listen, and asking myself...What the heck did I miss...where was this book going?? I was going to give it no stars if I could, but then you can't write a review on the book.
The book doesn't finish any story lines that it started, and seems like the book just ended and could possibly lead to a sequel, but I don't trust the author/publisher enough to get the next book for fear the same thing would happen. I wonder if the author was writing the book, the publisher stopped by while the writer was out to lunch, since he had a deadline he just grabbed the book, published it, only to find the author hadn't complete the story. Disjointed, scattered, no resolution to many of the story lines that you follow throughout the book.
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.
Joel Rosenberg is a very refreshing and exciting author. I enjoyed all of his books! It is wonderful to read a truly exciting and intriguing book without all of the garbage profane language and graphic sex. And i was not disappointed with this story until the last 30 seconds. Joel, were you under pressure by your editors to wrap it up or did you just run out of gas at the end. i haven't seen a more disappointing ending since the 9th grade when a student finished a short story with, "...and then I woke up!" Is there a book 2? I hate to be left hanging on so many points. Come on, buddy, finish the story. A guy of your talent can surely wrap up the lose ends.
Where is the ending! It ends abruptly and leaves all story lines completely unresolved. I had to go back and check and see if I missed part of the download. If it is a series say so up front. What a waste of time.
On the positive side, this is an engaging political thriller that is remarkably accurate in mirroring events in real life. And I felt the reader did an excellent job of helping us know which character was speaking by his many variations of accent and tone.
My two criticisms are regarding the loose ends or lack of continuity in the story and the decidedly biased approach to religions. On the first point, I echo the many reviews that pointed out the many unresolved issues when the book simply stops. These were not side issues, but things that the whole story had been building up to and they are simply left unexplained. I haven't read the next book in the series, but I noted that one reviewer said it also ends rather abruptly. In addition, there are a number of things that are not explained, just moving from one scene to the next. For example, in one scene, the hero is injured, covered in blood, limping, clothes torn, etc. In the next, he seems to be completely back to normal with no explanation as to how this miraculous transformation has taken place.
And speaking of miracles, there is the religious theme. Some reviewers have warned that this is written from a Christian point of view. I would say it is written from a "Christianity is the only true faith" perspective. And if we agree with this author, all Muslims are either evil or completely misled and had better convert to Christianity to have any hope of salvation. What ever happened to ecumenism and religious tolerance? And on a related note, nothing like a bit of deus ex machina to resolve a plot issue when Jesus or the 12th Imam performs a miracle. I don't think I need to read any more Rosenberg stories
This is even better that "The Last Jiahad." As other reviews have mentioned it did leave you hanging, but that is because there will be another book.
The Twelfth Imam is a great book that blends the political and supernatural very well. It starts in the middle of the action in 1979 to set up the background of the main characters and give context for the religio-political climate in Iran. It then slows as the main characters are developed to the present day. If one were to find a place to lose interest in the book it would be at that point, but knowing that it is setting up the series helps to propel one through that into a very fast paced ending that sets the stage quite nicely for a sequel. Being a Christian myself, I found the differences illustrated between Islam and Christianity very thought-provoking. In conclusion, I am excited to read the continuation of this excellent plot.
It's good to have writers with creative imaginations who sit around and dream up these far-out scenarios that scare the heck out of readers. This book painted a scenario which was very dark and mystical, playing on real fears of Iran's nuclear ambitions, the appearance of a Muslim prophet whose presence foretells the end of times, and an American born Muslim CIA agent whose job it is to stop the world from ending anytime soon. This book was definitely written with Christian listeners in mind (multiple appearances of Jesus and many references to scripture). If you enjoyed Rosenberg's prior works you will enjoy this one too. Plus,it appears there will be more books in the series as this one left quite a few loose ends.
The book starts out very interesting and captivating, the writer obviously has it in him to write a great story.
The narration bugged me a little for the first hour (every foreigner sounds Indian) but his pace and tone are very pleasant.
The whole first half of the book is well written and gives an interesting look on Iran and the US.
The second half feels like the writer is trying to convert the listener to Christianity and does everything to show us how bad Islam is and seems to be giving a very pro Israel pitch.
I was very disappointed to have the book took such a turn while it had such potential.
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