Part 1 of an Interview with Terry
Author of Persian Betrayal
In Terry Brennan’s Empires of Armageddon series, Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security
Officer Brian Mullaney has been tasked with an incredibly dangerous mission—to
deliver the Vilna Gaon’s second prophecy, along with the deadly box that
protects it, to the rabbis at the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem. When a
synagogue is destroyed by an explosion, both the prophecy and box are buried in
the rubble along with the answers Mullaney so desperately needs. How can he
discover the meaning of the centuries-old prophecy now? Why are he and the
ambassador he’s assigned to protect being targeted? Is there any way he alone
can thwart a nuclear arms race?
Brennan shares more about the series, and specifically the second installment of the trilogy, Persian Betrayal, in the interview that follows. He talks about the spiritual warfare his hero, Brian Mullaney, faces in the story as well as the daily battles Christians face. Brennan also shares the prophetic inspiration for his story and his thoughts on what’s going on in the world today.Q: Can you give us a quick introduction to the Empires of Armageddon series and what took place in book one, Ishmael Covenant?
Three ancient empires are rushing toward a collision in the volatile Middle East, an official high in the US State Department is conspiring with a foreign power against the US president, a centuries-old prophecy is unveiled that heralds Christ’s imminent return, and malevolent, created, eternal beings—fallen angels—are determined to invalidate biblical prophecy so they can manufacture a different ending to the Bible, reversing the outcome of the battle of Armageddon.
In Ishmael Covenant, Diplomatic Security Service agent Brian Mullaney is banished to Israel to protect the new US ambassador, Joseph Atticus Cleveland. Mullaney and the ambassador are thrust into the cauldron of Middle East conflict—political, personal, and spiritual conflict. They come into possession of an ancient, lethal metal box that supposedly holds a second prophecy that could both threaten the nascent peace treaty between Israel and all its Arab neighbors—the Ishmael Covenant—and also reveal the insidious plot of their evil enemies. Mullaney finds himself fighting for the life of the ambassador and his daughter, for his own crippled marriage, and in a spiritual battle (for which he is unprepared) against the agents of evil who are determined to destroy the box, the prophecy, and the Middle East as we know it.
Q: Where does the second book, Persian Betrayal, pick up the action? Will readers be able to join in if they haven’t read the first installment?
The story in Persian Betrayal commences exactly where Ishmael Covenant ends, with the destruction of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem by agents of the Turk, an otherworldly servant of evil. The Turk and his men are still trying to destroy the prophecy of the Vilna Gaon and the box that protects it.
I believe the story would be more deeply understood and appreciated by reading Ishmael Covenant before Persian Betrayal. Even though the entire trilogy has one overarching narrative story, each book in the series is complete in itself. Each contains a compelling and rewarding story arc, but each book also ends with a cliff-hanger conclusion designed to propel the reader further into the following book.
Q: The whole trilogy takes place in a short time span. Does that make it harder or easier to write the series?
Confining the majority of the trilogy’s plot structure to a relatively compact span of time built a world that—for me—remained vibrant, alive, and active throughout the writing process and limited the amount of research necessary. On the negative side, because of the worldwide stage upon which the trilogy plays out (over a large number of time zones), the significant cast of characters, and the rapid shifts in action from one locale to another, keeping the scenes in the correct order was a challenge.
For each book, I created an Excel spreadsheet outline/timeline for myself that tracked the date and time for each scene. I also included the time stamp in the book with each change of scene to help orient the reader. Each line of my spreadsheet also included a short, descriptive sentence about of what happened in each scene, so if I had to move scenes around, they were still in sequential order. Still, there were several instances where I got into a significant bind. Squeezing that much action into a short time span was certainly arduous.
Q: What mission is Brian Mullaney tasked with?
Brian Mullaney is a highly regarded, nineteen-year veteran of the Diplomatic Security Service, the 2,500-person armed force that protects American foreign service personnel overseas and the most widely represented law enforcement agency in the world. Presenting a danger to a rogue US State Department deputy secretary, Mullaney is banished to Israel as regional security officer and assigned to protect new US Ambassador Joseph Atticus Cleveland and all the foreign service personnel in Israel. Mullaney, however, is also enlisted into another task.
Through the influence of the massive angel Bayard, and the insistence of aged Rabbi Mordechai Herzog, Mullaney finds himself responsible for a metal box, emblazoned with kabbalistic symbols, that has gruesomely killed anyone who touches it. Originally the protective container of the Vilna Gaon’s second prophecy, the “box of power” now has a mission of its own, a mission that will put both Mullaney’s life and the life of Ambassador Cleveland at risk and transport Mullaney into the darkest depths of hell on earth.
Q: How does Brian’s faith prove a challenge in his work? Does he feel a pull between serving God and doing his job?
Brian Mullaney is a get-in-touch-with-God Christian. It’s not until the third book that his church is even mentioned. But his close, personal connection to God is evident throughout the series as he prays urgently and fervently on several occasions, pleading for God’s help and direction in the massive challenges facing him. He seeks God’s guidance on how to resurrect his marriage to Abby and rescue his family even though he’s nearly halfway around the globe. He prays to be faithful to his duty as the DSS’s top security officer in the Middle East and the man most responsible for the life and safety of Ambassador Cleveland. And he must rely on God in coming to grips with the daunting spiritual responsibility others want to place on his shoulders and in learning to live with the recent loss of his father and the wounds that were never healed.
In Persian Betrayal, Mullaney begins to suffer through the agonizing choices he needs to make while dealing with nearly constant attacks from a group of Turkish terrorists who have put all their lives at risk. Desperate to get home and repair his rocky marriage, yet determined to faithfully serve Cleveland and fulfill his duty, Mullaney must face one of the most crushing moments of his career while he awaits God to answer his pleas.
Q: What pressures does Brian experience from home? Would he be able to step away from the situation even if he wanted to?
Abigail and Brian Mullaney have been married for nearly twenty years. The first ten were great. The second ten were not so hot as they endured the consequences of moving eleven times from one assignment to another. But Brian promised Abby this was it—his assignment to Washington, DC, was the last move. They could settle down, and the girls could go to the same school. When he got unfairly booted out of DC and dispatched to Israel, Abby refused to go with him.
Mullaney was caught between promises—one to himself that he would never shirk his duty or betray a confidence, and the second to Abby that she would never have to move her family again. Abby had a simple question for her husband: “Who’s more important, Brian? Me? Your daughters? Or your job at the State Department?” To Mullaney the answers were “Yes” and “Yes,” but he knew that would never fly at home. Was his only option resignation from the Diplomatic Security Service? Could he turn his back on his duty? The answer to that question could cost him the most precious people in his life.
The Empires of Armageddon series will come to a close with the release of Ottoman Dominion in November 2020. Brennan promises near nonstop action that comes to a remarkable and unexpected ending.