03 November 2010

Left Behind: The Indwelling

Read all my reviews of the Left Behind books!
1. Left Behind, 2. Tribulation Force, 3. Nicolae, 4. Soul Harvest,
5. Apollyon, 6. Assassins, 7. The Indwelling, 8. The Mark,
9. Desecration, 10. The Remnant, 11. Armageddon,
12. The Glorious Appearing, and 13. Kingdom Come

In a stunning development, it turns out that Chaim was faking his stroke and did kill Nicolae with his sword. What a brilliant twist away from our expectations! Virtually everyone under the age of twelve must be shocked.

So not much happens in most of the next book, The Indwelling. It's basically a wrap-up of Assassins and sets up the next book neatly. And I'm not really glossing here: the plot basically involves all the characters traveling from one point to another in exceedingly tedious maneuvers, and on occasion a plot revelation that was already blindingly obvious. Chaim, Rayford, and Buck all escape Jerusalem to go to America and join up with Leah, Chloe, and Tsion. They have decided on a new headquarters in Chicago. Chicago will be safe because everyone thinks it's radioactive, but it's not. The justification for this is that an initial media report said it was nuked, and everyone just believed it forever - even when all radiation probes reported back negative. So everyone just abandoned a major metropolis because of an initial CNN report. Yeah, seems plausible.

A weird thing is that people start having superpowers in this book. There are some Jesuspowers: Tsion is taken to heaven to have some personal discussions with Michael and Gabriel, a Greek preacher has the ability to bless a bed and make it super-restful and can also see into your soul to examine your sins. And there are some Lucipowers: Nicolae's second-in-command, Fortunato, can blast people with lightning, and the resurrected Nicolae is basically a demigod. Previously, the only powers were Nicolae's ability to hypnotize people, so this is way better. Even if it seems the Tribulation Force kind of got screwed, since not only do they not have Sith Force Lightning, they don't even have the Jedi Mind Trick.

Another development is that Rayford has begun to pull rank these days, as the "leader" of the Tribulation Force. Why he does so is a tedious matter, but it does raise the question: what the hell is the point of the Trib Force? They don't do much of anything. Tsion has his cyberministry and Chloe is organizing a trade network, but almost everyone else just spends their time flying back and forth purposelessly - just evading the Global Community police all the time - and talking on the phone. I guess they could just be a group banding together to survive, and preparing for the wrath of God to keep crushing them, but that hardly seems like a Force. But whatever, Jesus has a plan, yada yada yada.

The book comes to a double climax at the very end. One climax occurs with Nicolae's resurrection as a demigod and assumption of worship. The other climax is absurd and entirely artificially-generated: yet again, Rayford and some people need to help whisk away their friends from the GC. It's just painful to read. On the one hand, there's the rise of Satan on Earth, which naturally follows from the previous plot and organically culminates in the moment of his rising from the grave. And on the other hand, there's yet another squad of guards who are approaching the safehouse and the Trib Force has to race against time: but for no real reason. It's hard to care about the whole deal, because it has happened so many times - it's even happened in this very book three or four times. Talk on the phone, race against time to a plane/car, rinse and repeat. Ugh.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff! Want to see Tsion meet an angel?

He did not move as if in water or in a vacuum. He didn't have to move his limbs. All he had to do was will himself to turn, and he turned. At first Tsion believed he was looking into a bottomless crevice, the only dark spot in a wall of bright white. But as he backed away from the image, so real he believed he could touch it, other dark spaces of relief came into view. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he pulled back far enough to make out a face. It was as if he dangled between the nose and cheekbone of some heavenly Mount Rushmore image.
But this was neither carved from stone nor made of flesh and bone. Huge and bright and strong, it was also at once translucent, and Tsion was tempted to will himself to pass through it. But as it should have been frightening and was not, he wanted to see the whole. If a head, then a body? He pulled back to see the face ringed with hair massive as prairie grass. It framed a face kindly and yet not soft, loving and yet confident and firm.
Tsion knew beyond doubt he was imagining this, and at the same time it was the most sensory-rich experience of his life. It burned into his mind's eye, and he believed he would never forget it nor experience anything like it again as long as he lived.
His voice nearly failed him, but he managed to croak, “Are you Jesus the Christ?”
A rumble, a chuckle, a terrestrial laugh? “No,” came A gentle voice that surrounded him and, coming from a mouth that size, should have blown him into oblivion.
“No, son of the earth, I am merely one of his princes.”
Tsion pulled back farther to take in the scope of this beautiful heavenly being.
“Gabriel?” he whispered.
“Gabriel and I are as brothers, child. He announces. I command the heavenly host.”
"Sensory-rich," eh? Maybe we could put a little more effort into describing these riches, fellows, rather than tossing out a "like prairie grass" and "kindly and yet not soft" and calling it a day.

A little discussion of the Bible:

Scholars were divided on who the sunclothed woman was, the one who wore a garland of stars and used the moon as her footstool.
Clearly she was symbolic, as no woman was that large or had a child in space. Some believed she represented womankind as mentioned in Genesis when God told Satan that the woman would produce a child whose heel Satan might bruise, but who would crush his head. That was a prophecy of the Christ child, and of course that woman turned out to be Mary.
Why was this a prophecy of Christ and not the glaringly obvious allegory for the sufferings of mortal flesh? No reason given.

The brief early history of young Nicolae:

"The young Nicolae was a precocious and extremely bright child with avid interests in athletics and academics, primarily languages, history, and science. Before the age of twelve he won his first election as president of the Young Humanists. He was a stellar high school student, a celebrated debater and speaker, and valedictorian, repeating that honor at university.
"Mr. Carpathia excelled as an entrepreneur and began public service early, becoming a member of Romania's Lower Parliament before age twenty-five. His devotion to pacifism brought both criticism and praise and became the hallmark of his life's work.
"Mr. Carpathia once told me that he believed the zenith of his career, even after being swept in as president of Romania as a young man at the behest of his predecessor, was his invitation to address the United Nations some three and a half years ago.
"Honored beyond expression, the young head of state worked hard on his presentation, outlining the history of the UN, employing every one of its languages, and memorizing his speech in its entirety. Little did he know that just prior to his appearance at the General Assembly, the earth would suffer its greatest calamity, the tragedy we all know now as the day of the vanishings."
It would seem Mr. Carpathia was a master of the self-evident. Yes, the speech that led to him being swept into office as head of the U.N. and a unified world state is more of a zenith than when he became president of Romania. This is particularly so because his election was achieved by superlative linguistic skills and a knowledge of U.N. history (a subject about which almost no one cares).

I've tried to imagine it. A guy gets up at the podium the day after a world disaster and talks in ten languages about when UNESCO was founded and how many people are on the Council for Human Rights. The crowd goes wild. Wooo, yeah, UNESCO! Aw, man, did you hear how he totally talked about the sub-departments of the WHO in Prussian?! Wooo! Let's make this guy leader of the world!

Anyway, the authors melt some more people:

“It is also only fair that I offer proof of my role, in addition to what you have
already seen and heard from Nicolae Carpathia's own image. I call on the power of my most high god to prove that he rules from heaven by burning to death with his pure, extinguishing fire those who would oppose me, those who would deny his deity, those who would subvert and plot and scheme to take my rightful place as his spokesman!”
He paused dramatically. Then, “I pray he does this even as I speak!”
Leon turned to face the ten potentates and pointed at the three who opposed him. Great beams of fire burst from the cloudless skies and incinerated the three where they sat. The other seven leaped from their seats to avoid the heat and flames, and even the guards backpedaled.
The crowd shrieked and wailed, but no one moved.

And that's it for this book, which is sub-par even by the subterranean standards set by its predecessors. Next comes The Mark. Yippee.

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