cover image Jerusalem Vigil

Jerusalem Vigil

Bodie Thoene / Author, Brock Thoene / Joint Author Viking Peng

In their first attempt at crossing over to mainstream audiences, these award-winning evangelical Christian novelists (the Zion Chronicles series) fashion a rather formulaic tale of bloody battle in which Jews and Christians of unsurpassed bravery and goodness fight evil Arab Muslims who oppose the nation of Israel and the internationalization of Jerusalem. The initial entry in a series, the novel chronicles five days in May 1948 and introduces dozens of characters who experience warfare at both a physical and spiritual level. Whether taking up arms or working as medics, members of the Jewish Diaspora and assorted Christians experience angelic protection, spiritual revelation and assurance that God has chosen them to fulfill the biblical prophecies quoted at length at the beginnings of several chapters. With the exception of two brothers, who are given full, complicated personalities, Arab Muslims are depicted as sadistic, demon-possessed Nazi prot g s who gleefully slaughter Jews, children, puppies and nuns. The Muslim troops brag about the holiness of their jihad and their courage in battle, but their actions expose them as cowardly, effeminate and completely at odds with the will of Allah as it is described in the novel's only quotation from the Koran. A few innocent Arab Muslim children and Arab-appeasing Jews and Christians complicate the plot. But even the most complexly developed characters are burdened with stiff, ungainly dialogue. The authors do deliver moments of genuine suspense and horror, but these scenes are often outweighed by tired action-film cliches and attempts at lighthearted esprit de corps that fall flat. Devotees of spiritual historical/adventure novels may find this worth the read, but those who seek fresh and nuanced fiction about this chapter in Middle East history may not anticipate the Zion Legacy's next four installments, due to be published at the rate of two per year. 12-city author tour. (Mar.)