Part 2 of an Interview with Terry
Author of Persian Betrayal
In this second half of his interview about Persian Betrayal, Terry Brennan talks about both the historical and spiritual inspiration behind his new Empires of Armageddon series.
prologue shares a fictional retelling of Moses and the battle against the
Amalekites from Joshua’s perspective. Is the inclusion of this story tied to the
prophecies central to the story line of the series?
I don’t think it gives anything away too soon, but one portion of the second prophecy is deciphered to read “. . . when the sons of Amalek are invited to the king’s banquet . . .” In the Bible, following the battle of Rephidim—where Moses’s arms are kept raised by Aaron and Hur while the Israelite army routs a much larger army of Amalekites—Moses tells Joshua that God spoke, “I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”
Historically, it is a widely held belief that the nomadic tribes known as Amalek were the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s illegitimate son by Hagar. These tribes became the Bedouin nomads who eventually populated vast stretches of the desert on both sides of the Red Sea and are now known as Arabs. The enmity between Arabs and Jews (the sons of Jacob) has continued for centuries. Within my story, when Israel signs a peace treaty, known as the Ishmael Covenant, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Arab states along the Persian Gulf, that covenant can certainly be interpreted as Amalek being “invited to the king’s banquet.”
In Persian Betrayal, that line, and other lines in the Vilna Gaon’s second prophecy, are a prophetic warning to the nation of Israel—one that may be too late to heed.Q: How do the spiritual themes of the series such as spiritual warfare carry through in Persian Betrayal?
From the time the Vilna Gaon, a Jewish Talmudic genius, wrote two prophecies in 1794, relentless forces of evil arrayed against him to destroy the prophecies and prevent them from fulfilling their purpose. Those forces of evil were created, eternal beings—fallen angels. To protect the Gaon and the prophecies, angels from the throne room of God were dispatched to join the battle, a battle waged both in the heavenly realms and also on the earth.
In the Bible, the book of Ephesians references “heavenly realms” five times and refers to the battle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers . . . against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” In this series, our protagonist, Brian Mullaney, is drawn into this conflict against desperate evil forces who want to change the end of the Bible with an earthly battle that has eternal consequences. My NIV Study Bible has a note on Ephesians 1 that reads, “The spiritual struggle of the saints here and now is not so much against ‘flesh and blood’ as against the great spiritual forces that war against God in heaven.” The spiritual warfare in Persian Betrayal is real, personal, dangerous, and frightening to our characters. And its outcome has eternal ramifications. Not so much different than today.
Q: Is the Vilna Gaon a fictional character, and are his prophecies a product of your imagination?
The Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, was a real person who lived from 1720 to 1797 in Vilnius, Lithuania. A lifelong student of the Jewish scripture, the Gaon authored voluminous and accurate notes and explanations of Talmudic and other texts. He was internationally revered as one of the most familiar and influential figures in rabbinic study since the Middle Ages. A vigorous Talmudist and kabbalist, the Vilna Gaon was the foremost leader of non-Hasidic Jews of his time, and his followers remain active in Jewish scriptural interpretation and debate to this day.
In late March 2014, Rabbi Moshe Shturnbuch, the Gaon’s great-great-grandson, actually revealed a prophecy written by the Gaon in 1794. In part, the prophecy said, “When you hear that the Russians have captured the city of Crimea, you should know that the times of the Messiah have started, that his steps are being heard.” About a month earlier, on February 27, 2014, in the midst of political upheaval in the Crimea, Russian special forces seized the buildings of the Crimean Supreme Council and Council of Ministers. Russian flags were raised over these buildings, fulfilling the 210-year-old prophecy.
While the Gaon’s actual prophecy is written into my fictional series, the story of the second prophecy is a product of my imagination.
Q: The Empires of Armageddon series is categorized as end-times fiction, as it features prophecies and an epic battle. Many people believe everything that has been going on in 2020 are prophetic signs. What do you think personally of all this talk?
Wars and rumors of wars. Famine. Now a global plague the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century. And an unprecedented, mammoth invasion of locust ravaging the African continent. Sounds ominous, all right. The moral decline in our nation—where what was once illegal, and always immoral, is now celebrated openly in the streets—has been precipitous. The cultural persecution of Christians is more subtle but growing ever more virulent.
I blame myself. I was born in 1947 and went to college from 1964 to 1968 in the midst of the cultural revolution that reversed the ethical and moral compass of America. I marched and protested, trampled the faith of my youth, and lived a free life. I sowed the seeds for the moral disaster we are watching unfold today. Do I think we’re looking at end-times harbingers today? If not now, it won’t be long. The clock started ticking with the 1948 birth of the nation of Israel. More than seven decades have already count down. Are we closing in on our final hours? I don’t know. But I think the alarm is ringing.
Q: One of your endorsements describes the series as a look at the dark world of political corruption. Is any of that element of the story based on actual events?
Not in the sense that we would normally think of political corruption. I’m not writing about bribes and backroom deals, rigged elections, graft and embezzlement, conflicts of interest, or abuse of power. But there are definitely some dark deeds in the halls of power. The only actual event referred to in the series is what’s known as the Iran nuclear deal. But in this fictional world, there is a traitor in the State Department who’s trying to prevent the deal from being consummated, not because of a political agenda but because a billionaire banker doesn’t want to lose the $2 billion in Iranian funds frozen in his banks since the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. In the book there is a coup overthrowing a legitimate government, a number of international double crosses, and power-driven men intent on resurrecting ancient empires, regardless of the cost. Not unlike actual events but, no, not based on any truth that I know.
How not to give away all the good parts? Let’s just say that after Mullaney endures a devastating loss at the end of Persian Betrayal, all the diverse plotlines converge when Ambassador Cleveland decides to take the situation into his own hands. He determines to go AWOL from Tel Aviv without his security detail and flies to Ankara to confront Turkish president Emet Kashani. But when Cleveland finds his life and soul in mortal danger, Brian Mullaney must find a way to fulfill all the missions God has rested upon his shoulders—rescue the ambassador, resurrect his marriage, and fulfill the destiny of the box of power. Ottoman Dominion is nearly nonstop action that comes to a remarkable, unexpected, and very personal ending.