Authors:   Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

With the world’s attention now riveted on the war in Iraq, "Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages," the eleventh book in the wildly successful "Left Behind" series, speaks directly to many people’s hearts and minds.  Its vivid descriptions of violent conflict remind readers of the drama in current news reports.  Its portrayal of the spiritual hope of some people and the desperation of others mirrors the thoughts and feelings of many around the globe.  Of course, "Armageddon" is set during an entirely different time in history, years after the Rapture and just before Christ’s second coming.  But it sometimes seems eerily close to current events.  For example, the plot’s seat of evil is in Iraq, the site of New Babylon, where antichrist Nicolae Carpathia rules with even more ferocity than Saddam Hussein.

Author Jerry B. Jenkins has once again taken Tim LaHaye’s notes on prophecies from the book of Revelation and masterfully spun them into a tale that makes the sometimes cryptic biblical book come alive.  "Left Behind" series fans will find the same page-turning suspense, believable dialogue, and clear spiritual messages in "Armageddon" that they found in the previous 10 books.  And fortunately, Jenkins does a good job of explaining background information, so this book should still make sense to readers who haven’t read some or any of the other books in the series.  However, if they haven’t, this one will hopefully whet their appetite to read more.

Jenkins uses the contrast between light and darkness as a brilliant literary device to illustrate the contrasting spiritual conditions of those who bear Christ’s mark and those who bear the mark of the antichrist.  He also skillfully shows how easily people can twist the truth and how difficult it sometimes is to trust people.  The cast of characters can be difficult to follow, but the list of characters in the beginning is helpful.

Readers may be disappointed to discover that "Armageddon" actually describes very little of the ultimate battle for which it is named.  In fact, while there is much person-to-person conflict throughout the book, it’s not until the last 50 pages or so of the 395-page book that readers see wartime combat action – and that action takes place in Jerusalem, before the opposing forces face off in the valley of Megiddo.  LaHaye and Jenkins are clearly building suspense for the series’ next book, when they will describe Jesus Christ’s glorious return to earth.  "Armageddon" also builds suspense with the death of one of the main characters right at the end (in addition to a key character who dies earlier in the book), but readers must wait until the next book to discover exactly who has died.


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