Tag Archives: action

Review of ‘The Caliphate’

As I’ve said elsewhere, I am generally in the business of producing books, not reviewing them. As the Editress also has learned, doing what we do well sometimes makes it difficult to find a satisfying work in which to lose oneself through the magic of immersion. Recently I did that, and my resulting thoughts exceeded the venue of a retail book review. Here’s the first part of what I had to say about author friend Anna Erishkigal’s latest:

The Caliphate is wound around the premise that an ISIS-like conquest of the United States has been successful. One might think ‘Yeah, like that would ever happen,’ until Erishkigal constructs her disturbingly plausible backdrop for the novel to follow.

Eisa McCarthy is a faithful Muslim, one who refuses to set aside her humanity in the name of doctrine. We see the story through her eyes as she navigates her difficult path. Burdened by memories of a father now besmirched by propagandized history into the image of a traitor, she finds herself propelled by her circumstances into a fold of resistance marking America’s last efforts at redemption.

'The Caliphate' on Amazon

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The parallels the author draws between the current landscape in Syria and Iraq and a future United States are unsettling, as they portray present-day atrocities with unflinching accuracy. The dominion of evil Eisa opposes is factual, departing only in scope from conditions experienced already inside less fortunate borders. Likewise, the courage of female fighters against a misogynistic foe is drawn from our world and extended into the author’s adroit, fictional presentation.

One is left with the conclusion that, yes, this could happen here. If it does, we will have the same choices Eisa, her compatriots, and fellow victims of dominant, Islamist fundamentalism do: resist for the sake of those who can or will not, or hope for the best at the sparse mercy of conscienceless oppressors.

Overall, a solid work of thriller/suspense and an easy five stars.”

That was the easy part. Dealing with the threads of actuality the author pulled together into to this work  came next, all part of the era our world will attempt to resolve into the foreseeable future.

One of her themes is the nature of absolutism, in particular Islamofascism of the type now plaguing portions of Iraq and Syria. Fundamentalist Muhammadanism continues to export its proponents into every corner of the globe via the infrastructure of a world growing smaller by the year. As in Anna’s backstory, misplaced guilt and sympathy provided the inroad for a substantial population of assets who intended to fulfill the vision of their Prophet:  to conquer each piece of land on which they place their foot.

Here stateside, we only days ago decided a presidential election. One of the major candidates for years had been advised by a staffer connected to the transnational, Sunni Islamist ‘Muslim Brotherhood.’ Huma Abedin fulfilled for Hillary Clinton a role similar to Valerie Jarrett, a current Senior Advisor to the President and of Iranian birth who principally influences his foreign policy. Had the electoral process gone another way, through  the fruition of policies enabling Muslim influx we might have been well on the way toward the same type of soft cultural  jihad currently being suffered by Europe.

Anna extended the premise into a plausible scenario, in which the movement eventually gains control of America’s nuclear arsenal. Afterward the regime holds the threat of annihilation over not only America but the remainder of the civilized world.

There she hits another thread weaving itself through human history. There are two types of us, you see. The first and perhaps the larger contingent would rather give in than get hurt. Those hope for the best, that their predators in life will pass them by, and that they will be allowed to continue what is an essentially undeserved existence. For the bright spirits, the heroes amongst us such as Anna’s protagonist Eisa McCarthy, the opposite philosophy takes hold. From somewhere within, the Spirit finds a foothold, and one finds the reverse to be true. Courage follows, and one threads a path though fear forward to decisive action.

Conflict is tiresome, and those who seek to dominate their fellows know this. Domineering personalities therefore promote division at every level possible, so their policies might eventually flourish through a lack of resistance. Fear likewise is a circumstance the undeveloped soul seeks to avoid. Violence and its terrifying aftermath, of course, is the most effective cowing agent of all.

So it is under the rule of ISIS within the bounds of its miserable territory today. It is well to remember the laws of human nature are as much in effect in this country as they are in the Near East.

We enshrine and protect freedom of religion in our Constitution. Such recognition resulted to ensure the freedom from oppression for the devout and conscientious. Islam of the modernistic, reformed variety—the sort content to reside in the front half of the Qur’an as encountered in the Balkans—seeks only to worship the God of Abraham after the prompting of the Spirit as do their brother Jews and Christians. Such folk choose love over hate and indifference, and bother no one as a result.

Islam metastasized is an altogether different entity. There, civilized harmony is antithetical to the later verses of Muhammadan scripture they embrace, in which adherents are instructed to accept the latter of contradictory guidance. Those are the chapters, which encourage terror and subjugation, making the global war between twenty-first and seventh-century philosophies what it is.

Such can no longer be tolerated under the banner of ‘freedom of religion.’ As the social media meme points out, if your religion requires you to kill me to get to heaven, I don’t need to tolerate that. Assigning constitutional protection to the polar opposite of Americanism and an ideology of conquest is beyond foolish; it is self-destructive.

Islam, particularly in Wahhabism, cannot be considered only another quaint religious tradition safe for the imagined secular humanist to dismiss and ignore. It engenders, as Winston Churchill observed, a distinct fanaticism as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog. Past a certain point, the two afflictions have only a singular and identical course of effective treatment.

Anna Erishkigal’s characters, particularly her women, you may rest assured become masters of addressing this condition in their enemies. We might contend with Eisa McCarthy’s premise that “Allah has no sons, only daughters,” but in the end we cheer the courage that is her byproduct of faith. These contests, as they have throughout history, retain a significance beyond the contexts of their actors. There are lessons there, unseen if unsought, God-placed for those who will.

Choose to love, -DA

Jon’s Trilogy

There is a principle of writing and marketing known as The Rule of Three. This idea suggests that tripartite content, being the smallest number required in establishing a pattern, is the most straightforward approach to connecting with one’s target audience.

On December 27, 2010, when I had finished setting up a new computer and began wondering what to do with it, I did not immediately plan to write a novel. I certainly had no idea that the work—which would become Anvil—would consume my free time for the period of twelve months. It would have been even more of a surprise to know that I would see two more of Jon Anthony’s titles published by the end of March 2013. I would never have imagined that I would be fulfilling a lifelong ambition of devoting a year full-time to the writing of fiction. The Rule of Three, however, seemed to apply itself spontaneously, and the words began to flow.

Every story has a beginning, a middle part, and an end, as Jon tells his college students in Killing Doctor Jon. So does his trilogy. They correspond to my goals for readers in the series, ones that I defined early on in the process.

The Anvil of the Craftsman, Jon’s introduction and adventure in Iraq, is a glimpse at the reasoning and philosophy guiding a young, bright, articulate postgraduate student in 2006. Methodologically, this would be Rationale.

The Britteridge Heresy provides insight into the actions his attitudes toward his faith and fellow man provoke, wrapped in the intrigue of an international drama. Jon, through no choice of his own, is forced to “walk the walk” of a believer, and again his faith carries the day. It defines, as I realized, Jon’s Method.

His third title, Killing Doctor Jon, makes it clear that this is Jon Anthony’s Trilogy. It is the most spiritually intense of the three, a story line that—as one of Jon’s beta readers puts it—“knocks you on your butt.” Doctor Jon defines the stakes in the race of life against death, a contest with a temporal finish line and eternal consequences. The plot is some aspects is a departure and in others defines the entire purpose of the exercise. In the Rule of Three it is Relevance.

Three titles, three objectives, and an undercurrent of interconnection make Jon’s Trilogy an experience. As entertainment, there is adventure, action and suspense, and even a hint of romance. I have been asked “what are your novels about?” In the end, as are all good stories, they are about people. I have spent twenty-seven months and counting with those who populate Jon Anthony’s universe, and it has been an entirely worthwhile journey.

The Anvil of the Craftsman, The Britteridge Heresy, and Killing Doctor Jon are the journey of a lifetime … for Jon Anthony and for anyone else who can read and think at the same time. I hope that you will enjoy all three.

*In the run-up to the release of Jon’s Anthony’s third title, Killing Doctor Jon, my debut novel and the first of Jon’s Trilogy is being made available at very special pricing:

The Anvil of the Craftsman is now a free download via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iTunes and Kobo. Please see my sideboard for links!

Choose to Love, -DA

Boone

Over the course of the last few months, I have been spending my days with a woman named Rebecca Boone Hildebrandt. Not to worry, friends and family; technically she does not exist—except in roughly four hundred and fifty pages of fiction that so far only I have seen.

Boone is the heroine (yes, I still use gender-specific terms) of a trilogy a bit over halfway to completion. Jon Anthony now has three titles of his own (two published, the third coming this winter), and everyone’s favorite Air Force officer has received his own back-story. Another vision now has residence in the private work space of my mind, and is at present flowing into some of the best prose that I have ever written.

Jon Anthony, my quiet, soft-spoken academic and man of unshakable faith, is one of those people whom one meets only now and again in life, a soul in which God’s enemy has never found a foothold. Mademoiselle Hildebrandt is someone quite different.

Boone lives in a world of deep, dark secrets. She works for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This top executive level of the United States Intelligence Community is the consolidating entity of intelligence organs in the U.S. government and is headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Her intellect and physical abilities have aided her ascension to the position of Level One Case Officer, and her job description in its most terse form is to solve problems that most will never know existed.

Boone’s exceptional ability to retain information had her leaving high school early, to study physiology in Europe, where she also navigated academe at an accelerated pace. Her doctorate secured, two years of training in the martial arts followed in Vietnam, studying the techniques of practitioners similarly small in stature, yet very dangerous.

For all her wondrous abilities, Boone is a flawed character. Her faith at the onset of her debut, Absinthe and Chocolate, is practically nonexistent. She has a problem with alcohol. She takes the stresses of her work, the loneliness of her existence, and the weight of the lives she has extinguished and channels them into intoxication and sexual outlet.

Boone’s story, as all of ours shall be, is a tale of change. She is part hero (yes, sometimes I also use gender-neutral terms), part victim, and composed of both steel and velvet. She is, as one of her revelations in The Bonus Pool relays, “… all light, darkness, death, life, joy and grief, wrapped in a package that most people simply called Boone.”

The woman is a work in progress, in the pages of her fiction and in the part she plays in what God is doing, as are we all. Her purpose is unapparent, as it is for many of us, and will take patience to comprehend fully. Knowing her has nevertheless blessed me, and I am glad to be the woman’s chronicler.

There are many roads to the same destination. Boone and I are on one less traveled. I hope that my readers will understand.

Choose to Love, -DA