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Tyndale House, the publisher of the Left Behind books, the megaselling Christian series about the end times, now presents a new series with a very different interpretation of biblical prophecy. Christian radio-show host Hanegraaff and bestselling CBA novelist Brouwer take readers back to the time of Nero in the first century. As the Roman Empire ruthlessly persecutes Christians, the novel's warrior-hero, Vitas, tries to defend them. But even Vitas can't prevent the destruction of the Jewish Temple—the historical event that sits at the center of this novel. Hanegraaff and Brouwer posit that the Book of Revelation, in code, predicted Roman persecution and the Temple's fall; subsequent novels in the series presumably will walk readers through the rest of Revelation, tying historical events to biblical prophecy. This is, to be sure, middle-brow genre fiction, and not an especially shining specimen thereof. The prose is plodding, with far too many dramatic sentence fragments and a conventional plot. The dialogue tends toward the unsubtly didactic (" 'Jesus, then, uses this rich symbolism?' Darda nodded.... 'You said John was obviously educated. Can you make any other guesses about him?' 'John verges on genius.' ") Despite the series' many flaws, readers who are hungry for apocalyptic fiction may embrace it, though it remains to be seen whether they'll find a first-century apocalypse as gripping as Left Behind's 21st-century one.
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