David Shirazi is back with more secrets than ever. After successfully extracting Iran's top nuclear scientist, David is confronted with a race against time as he desperately tries to track down missing nuclear war heads and top political operatives while following the events happening in the rest of the world and at home.
In this sequel to The Twelfth Imam, more details are revealed as we continue to learn what is really going on in this alternate future where the new leader of Iran is reestablishing the Caliphate and nuclear armageddon is looming. The plot is redolent with details, and the author does a masterful job at tying up the loose ends and eliminating possible plot holes.
However, while the first book was definitely action driven, much of this book is stuck in committee, focusing on dialogues between characters that I sometimes had trouble keeping straight. The politics in this novel are as confusing as in real life, and everyone may or may not have a double motive.
Violence is here again in plenty, including shootings, beatings, water boarding, other forms of torture, earthquakes, bombings, and what not. The descriptions are not overly graphic, and the fast pace of the novel keeps you from dwelling on these disturbing scenes too deeply. In fact, most of the characters don't seem to be too shaken either. At one point in the story, when a main character finds himself tortured by supposed allies, he finds himself almost immediately back at work without any seriously debilitating pain or trauma. In the author's eagerness to move on with the story, perhaps he sacrificed the reality behind what it means to have human beings purposely inflicting severe mental and physical pain on other human beings, and in the process lessened the sense of reality the book worked so hard to create.
Religion continues to be a central theme, specifically Islamic mythology and conflict between Islam and the rest of the world, including Jews and Christians. Evangelism begins to play a crucial part in the plot, as does reading the scripture, prayer, and faith. The author does a good job in keeping these aspects relevant to the story and characters, rather than laying it on the top like an artificial veneer.
There are no notes in the back of the book citing Mr. Rosenberg's sources and inspirations. This is something included in the first novel which I sorely missed in this sequel.
I'd recommend this book to a reader who enjoys the spy thriller genre but also has the patience to wade through pages of explanatory dialogue where nothing terribly exciting happens. This book requires a significant time and patience investment to finish, but finishing rewards the reader with another installment in a very good suspense series. Thumbs up.
I read and reviewed the first book in this series, The Tweflth Imam, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't wait for the next book to come out, and it finally did. It starts where the first book left off and launches right into fast-paced drama, suspense, and international intrigue.
Rosenberg has created a great character in David Shirazi. He is a CIA agent, but is a very complex individual. I enjoyed reading more about him and seeing even more character development done on him.
Joel Rosenberg knows his "stuff." Although this is a fictional series, he brings a lot of non-fiction into the books. I liked The Tehran Initiative even more than the first book and could not put it down until I finished it. Awesome book. I am looking forward to the next one.
The Tehran Initiative by Joel Rosenberg is book two in a series covering the rise of the Mahdi, also called the Twelfth Imam, the messiah figure of Islamic eschatology. Required reading, in my opinion, before any reader jumps into this book or its prequel, The Twelfth Imam (2010), is Rosenberg's most recent non-fiction piece, Inside the Revolution (2008). For anyone too young to know the details of what took place in Iran during the Carter administration, or too non-Muslim to know a thing about Islamic eschatology, a solid grasp of both these historical events and the religious bents of current Middle Eastern leaders, specifically those in Iran, is essential.
I have praised Rosenberg's writing elsewhere, and I must here again. While it had been a while since I read The Twelfth Imam, the storyline came back to me quickly as I got into Tehran. While I did find the central chapters sluggish and a slight chore to get through---it focused much on relationships with very little suspense or action---I finished the final quarter of the book as if it were a matter of pages. Rosenberg has fitted his newest novel with action, intrigue, a little innocent love, and even the Gospel message in a plot-substantive way. Once again, I cannot wait for the next installment to this fantastic series.
Joel Rosenberg is a Christian author who does so much more than write fiction: he is a respected speaker and authority on Middle Eastern relations, is a die-hard advocate for Israel's peaceful existence, and has also recently been the Number One watchdog against Iranian aggression. Check out his blog and keep yourself informed. I highly recommend it.