Above Empyrean, by Bruce Herschensohn
Review by W. J. Rayment / ConservativeBookstore -- Bruce Herschensohn is rightly thought of as one of the literary lights of the conservative movement. In "Above Empyrean: A Novel of the Final Days of the War on Islamic Terrorism", he takes a simple idea and turns it into a work of art.
A story about Islamists taking over the United States, and the naivete of liberals allowing them to do it, would normally be a depressing and intense subject. However, Mr. Herschensohn finds a way to focus on the lighter aspects and with some humor avoids inducing a load of anxiety. His treatment of some of the scenes borders on farce. Yet the underlying seriousness of the subject always lingers. It is this, and not guns and in-your-face conflict, that creates the tension of the story.
Herschensohn is able to focus on a very specific aspect of the war on terror. He does this by removing his characters from the planet's surface and placing them in an impregnable bunker, nearly cut off from the rest of the world. He makes agile use of action and characterization to enlighten the reader, unfolding and exposing as in a play.
The main character is an elderly pragmatist. Eli Jared combines the wit of William F. Buckley Jr. with the style of Claude Rains. (Both regrettably now deceased.) The character gives conservative thinking a natural flow, a certain panache, and ultimately an inexorable rightness that proves unassailable. Vying against this aged experience that verges on world weary, we are faced with Jared's main antagonist. No, it is not some Mullah, in flowing robes and turban with a pointy beard. Rather it is a pointy-headed liberal whose naivete borders on blindness. Angus Glass is a young man, and an idealist. At first his knee jerk, wilful avoidance of fact and reality seems almost caricature. And yet...and yet, it rings so true when juxtaposed against the reality of actual liberal positions when dealing with the threat of fundamental Muslim expansionism.
The machinations of Glass are fumbling and weak. Nevertheless, they have the power to destroy the efforts of Jared's fight against the militant Muslims which have taken over the country. In fact, without the opposition of Glass, the battle with the Muslim extremists would seem a foregone conclusion. It is only the foolishness of Angus Glass that can ultimately defeat the forces of liberty.
"Above Empyrean" is a very pleasant page-turner, not intense, but flowing. We become involved with all of the characters. Everyone falls in love with Traci Howe, the irresistible secretary of Admiral Kaylin. The Admiral is a military man who believes in sacrifice and duty. Wayne Stewart is the techno-geek whose inventions prove invaluable to the cause of freedom. The dialogue is light and bantering and infused with human insights that on first blush have nothing to do with the purported topic. Yet they end up having significance in the course of events.
This is one of those light and fanciful novels that does not read as a lecture, but we end up learning much along the way.
Above Empyrean: A Novel of the Final Days of the War on Islamic Terrorism is available at Amazon.