Terry Brennan discusses his series finale, Ottoman Dominion
Part 1 of an interview with Terry Brennan,
Author of Ottoman Dominion
Ottoman Dominion, the final volume of the Empires of Armageddon trilogy, will have fans of Joel Rosenberg, Ronie Kendig, and Frank Peretti on the edge of their seats up to the final page. Terry Brennan believes readers of Ishmael Covenant and Persian Betrayal will be surprised by how the series ends with. “There are cliff-hangers at the end of the first two novels of the series, and I wanted to be faithful to the first two in completing the third. So, while I believe the ending of Ottoman Dominion will bring about a satisfactory conclusion to both the novel and the series, I would be very surprised if any of the readers are able to predict the ending. I didn’t figure it out myself until halfway through writing the third book.”
But even more than
an action-packed tale of international intrigue, there is something else that
Brennan hopes readers find in these pages. While we aren’t likely to face
forces of evil quite like Brian Mullaney does, Brennan stresses, “Spiritual
warfare is real. Evil is real. And they are both present on this earth today.
But, in order for there to be a tangible and ongoing spiritual conflict, good
must also be real. The result of this battle between good and evil, evidence of
which we can often see around us, is far more than ‘good wins.’ The result that
matters is where did we stand? What did I do in my life to hold back the forces
of evil? Because we are not ordained to be observers. We are enlisted to be
The three-book series, the Empires of Armageddon is a fast-paced, modern-day international thriller, constructed around historical fact and fiction based on fact. The story envelopes the lives of nearly a dozen key characters, but is driven by three primary characters: Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Brian Mullaney; Joseph Atticus Cleveland, the newly appointed US ambassador to Israel; and their enemy, The Turk, an immortal agent of evil who serves The One.
Out of the chaos and conflict of today’s Middle East, it appears that three ancient empires are about to resurrect themselves. One belief of the Islamic faith is that once an Islamic nation rules any part of the earth, it rules that part of the earth forever. So, ultimately, each of those empires would covet, and attempt to control, the same slice of land which each empire once ruled. The collision of those competing empires could trigger the climactic events in the Valley of Megiddo. The series explores how this potential clash of empires might impact current history, future events and the viability of the Jewish state.
The plot of the series, and the first book, Ishmael Covenant, is kick-started when the first of two Messianic prophecies, written in 1794 by the Vilna Gaon, is revealed in Jerusalem. When he arrives in Israel, Mullaney finds himself grudgingly in possession of a metal box that supposedly contains and protects a second prophecy written by the Gaon. Mullaney’s involvement with the prophecy and the box puts his life in terrible peril and in direct opposition to The Turk. The Turk and The One have been focused on a singular purpose for thousands of years—if they can prevent the fulfillment of one Messianic Biblical prophecy, they can eradicate the validity of all prophecy and change the end of the Book—the outcome of the Battle of Armageddon. What is contained in the Gaon’s prophecy could destroy their plans.
That theme, ultimate evil trying to overthrow the plans of God, fuels the story of the entire series. The series utilizes this supernatural cauldron of spiritual warfare, and its Biblical ramifications, as the backdrop for an epic testing of one man’s character when faced with multiple adversaries who threaten his family, his faith and his country. How Brian Mullaney responds to his calling could dictate the fate of this world—and the onset of the next.
Q: What can readers expect in the conclusion to this series, Ottoman Dominion?
The closer Brian Mullaney gets to hunting down the murderous thugs who have engaged in a reign of terror; the closer Ambassador Joseph Cleveland gets to unmasking a traitor in the highest echelons of the State Department; the closer the two of them get to thwarting an act of nuclear terrorism in the Middle East—the closer they both come to falling under the dark power of the evil incarnate who lurks in their path and lusts after their souls.
Q: What was the Ishmael Covenant that was a part of the first book? What similarities did this fictional treaty from your book have with the Abraham Accord, an actual peace accord signed in 2020?
One of the foundational plot elements of the series was a fictional peace treaty and mutual-defense pact between Israel and its neighbor states—who fought three wars against Israel since 1948 and have been sworn to its destruction for seven decades. But pragmatic politics makes for strange bedfellows. Because of the growing menace of Iran and its nuclear intentions, not only is Israel concerned about the Iranian threat but the oil-rich Arab States along the Persian Gulf also see a common enemy. Instead of peace, it’s this Ishmael Covenant that actually ignites growing conflict within Israel, foments internal upheaval in Saudi Arabia and propels Iran to accelerate its race to nuclear weapons.
Ishmael Covenant was released in February of 2020. Six months later, in August, Israel actually entered into a peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. This peace agreement is called the Abraham Accord and other Muslim states in the region are lining up to participate. There are similarities between both the countries involved and their motivation. Peace in the Middle East is a possibility.
Q: What aspects of your story are based on historical fact?
The Vilna Gaon, whose prophecies are one of the catalysts of the plot, was a real person. The foremost Talmudic scholar of his time, the Vilna Gaon (or Genius of Vilnius, Lithuania) was renowned not only for his knowledge of Jewish scripture, but also as a scientist and mathematician with intelligence far beyond his age and his time. His disciples still operate a synagogue in Jerusalem. In 2014, the Gaon’s great-great grandson actually did reveal a prophecy the Gaon wrote in 1794, a messianic prophecy warning that, when Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula, Jews should prepare for the coming of Messiah. Only a few months prior to the prophecy being revealed, the Russian army actually did occupy Crimea and parts of Ukraine.
Many of the agencies and circumstances in the series are based on actual fact: the Diplomatic Security Service are armed law-enforcement officers tasked with, among other things, protecting American Foreign Service personnel overseas; the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is America’s most elite and effective quick-strike force; the history of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem is accurate as written.
The ancient Biblical conflict between the nation of Israel and the people of Amalek—the descendants of Abraham and Ishmael—is a fundamental element in the conflict driving the series. Other historically accurate elements of the book include the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq in 2014; the worldwide confiscation of Iranian financial assets following the hostage crisis in 1979; NATO’s nuclear sharing project which still has 61 nuclear bombs in bunkers at the Incirlik Airbase; the geo-political weapon that water has become in the Middle East and the history of the Jews in Turkey. All were vital to the development of this fictional series.
Q: The author’s notes in the back of Ottoman Dominion are proof of how much detail from actual events and locales are written into the story. What did your research for the series involve? Have you always been interested in history and the politics of the Middle East?
In college, I studied to be a history teacher. I didn’t teach very long, but I’ve had a life-long interest in history. I’ve become much more engaged in the history and politics of the Middle East over the last twenty years or so, even before I started writing my first trilogy, the Jerusalem Prophecies series. It was in the midst of that first series that my wife and I made an extended trip to Israel, and Jerusalem in particular. Other than that “boots-on-the-ground” experience, my research for both series was informed by friends who lived in Israel and particularly by a long-distance email acquaintance with a Masters student of Jewish history who lived in Jerusalem.
More mundane, but necessary, research took place at the New York City Library system’s main research library and, of course, online. You might be surprised at how much a writer can glean from Google Maps and its ability to go “street-level” in so many places around the world.
Q: Obviously, we aren’t battling the forces of evil on the same level as Mullaney, but how do we as Christians face spiritual warfare on a daily basis?
Early in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, he writes in verse three of chapter one, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Later, in verse 19 he writes, “That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
The Bible I love and cherish most is an NIV Study Bible my wife gave me. Worn, beaten, re-bound, and marked from beginning to end, it has study notes, sometimes extensive, on nearly every page. The study note to Ephesians 1:3 states. “At stake are God’s eternal purpose and the titanic conflict between God and the powerful spiritual forces arrayed against him … 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.”
Think about that for a moment. There is a war against God in heaven with spiritual forces arrayed against him. And MY life here, today, is having some kind of impact on that battle. Because the same rulers, powers, authority and dominion that God is fighting in heaven, we are also fighting here on earth today. Different, sure. But real none-the-less. That’s stunning, awesome and, to a degree, frightening.
2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Paul here is reminding us that we wage war here, in our world, but not as the world does. We are talking about weapons of divine power to demolish strongholds.” How do we face spiritual warfare? We demolish every ungodly mental image and take captive every thought and bring it to Jesus.