Reviewer Steve Moore: Steve is a full-time writer and ex-scientist. Besides his many technical publications, he has written six sci-fi thrillers (one a novel for young adults), many short stories, and frequent comments on writing and the digital revolution in publishing. His interests also include physics, mathematics, genetics, robotics, forensics, and scientific ethics. Follow Here for his WEBSITE.
Author: Tempest O’Rourke
Publisher: Synergy Books
There are many lessons to be learned here. The author has a wealth of real world experience behind him and this translates well to the written page. He has constructed a thriller with philosophical meat, unusual for our times. The negatives I have mentioned do not distract from this first-rate page turner. I found it an excellent read. Try it
Author: Tempest O’Rourke
Publisher: Synergy Books
Tempest O’Rourke’s The Breath of Allah offers an interesting twist on suspense novels or thrillers that involve terrorists. The wellspring of terrorism is fundamentalism and the latter is often associated with religion. Indeed, for this reviewer it is both disconcerting and curious that religious fundamentalism is often associated with violent terrorist acts while most religions generally preach non-violence. Sure, the Old Testament has its battles where the Almighty’s chosen ones smite their enemies; the Book of Revelations certainly has nightmarish scenes akin to the worst LSD dreams; and the Koran contains sections that sound like a call to arms. But on a whole, the Torah, the Bible and the Koran contain non-violent morality lessons that most of us applaud in principle if not in detail.
At the risk of being accused of trumpeting my own horn, allow me to quote from my own novel The Midas Bomb: “…the Koran’s forbidden list is long: no hostages, no mistreatment of prisoners, no killing of women and children, and no suicides. Yet al Qaeda and its offshoots are guilty of all of these. They have killed more of their own people than Christians or Jews. Their intolerant acts, according to the Koran, will lead them straight to hell, not paradise. Those that plan, aid, and encourage them to perform their acts will end there too.”
I believe that this is the real theme of O’Rourke’s book: the true message of the Koran has been so distorted that it has become a justification for not only Islamic terrorism against the West but also a way of justifying Arab-on-Arab violence in the Middle East. He launches this message via the discovery in 2020 of an original version of the Koran, called the Breath of Allah, which reinforces the points I have already made above. The fundamentalists want to prevent the true message from getting out; the West tries to use it to maintain peace on a global level and win the “War on Terrorism;” and a prophet sent from Mohammed, a true fundamentalist, wants to use it to reunite Islam.
This then is the novel that Dan Brown should have written. While we have discovered early Christian writings that point out that the present New Testament gospels were a conscious choice of the Catholic Church among many others that were available (see, for example, Herbert Krosney’s The Lost Gospel), perhaps an ancient conspiracy, there is nothing as violent as what is portrayed in The Da Vinci Code. Moreover the Masonic movement (see one of my previous reviews) has little relation to the conspiracy portrayed in The Lost Symbol. The Breath of Allah, however, shows that real world terrorism is an aberration of the Koran’s teachings.
The discovery of this lost Koran, one of the original twelve transcribed after Mohammed’s death, is a plot device to question the authenticity of current Islamic practices and traditions. From my point of view it is not needed as a catalyst for the real theme, as I’ve said, but it is needed to make this book a good thriller. The main character, Englishman Cyrus Randall, inherits the Koran from his grandfather, who was a cohort of Lawrence of Arabia. It is evident that as the book progresses, the grandson has inherited much of the swashbuckling spirit of Lawrence and his grandfather. He leads both CIA agents and Islamic extremists on a hectic chase in the first part of the novel.
Unfortunately, the story tends to run out of steam when Cyrus is kidnapped by the Mossad. This event, engineered by a young Mossad agent that has helped Cyrus avoid his pursuers, is for his own protection. The story winds down and in the end there is the hope that the faithful of Islam will come together and be rational participants in the twenty-first century, led by the new prophet. The book ends with an ultimatum, a challenge to the silent mullahs of Islam by a U.S. president, a character whose strength O’Rourke obviously admires. I find this the weakest part of the book and, considering our present situation, the most disheartening one. As O’Rourke writes, “It was true evil can only triumph if good men do nothing.” The corollary of this theorem is that when good men do nothing, desperation may set in.
There are other aspects of this novel that may be annoying to some. I had to put on my Frederick Forsyth hat a bit, the Forsyth of The Fist of God, not the Forsyth of The Day of the Jackal. The author more often than not lapses into journalistic narration, reporting the action as a war correspondent might, not a novelist. I can handle it here and was always sufficiently intrigued to keep plowing on. In fact, probably due to a quirk in my own personality, I was curious about how the old Koran differed from the modern ones. Just what were the terrorists trying to suppress? We’ll never know.
There are many lessons to be learned here. The author has a wealth of real world experience behind him and this translates well to the written page. He has constructed a thriller with philosophical meat, unusual for our times. The negatives I have mentioned do not distract from this first-rate page turner. I found it an excellent read. Try it.