Alpha and Omega
by Harry Turtledove
Published: July 2, 2019
I am not sure how much I can say without giving away spoilers. Our main protagonist, or one of them, is Eric Katz, an American archeologist and secular Jew who is on a dig in Jerusalem just in time for the End of Days, The signs presaging the rising of the Third Temple and the coming of the Messiah begin with a perfect red cow in the US. When a dirty bomb is detonated outside a Tel Aviv bus station by suicide bombers the Israelis see that as a reason to excavate the tunnels under the Temple Mount where they make a find that will change everything and everyone worldwide.
We have a manageable cast of characters this time, possibly because this is most definitely a standalone novel. Eric Katz, his Israeli colleague and girlfriend Orzy give us a close up view of the action. Gabrella, an American TV reporter, and Reverend X give us an observer’s view and are used to give the relevant information on the three Abrahamic religions in a natural way. And then we have Chaim a young boy struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible as our inside POV.
I am not sure what to think of this book. I read it in one sitting so it held my interest and it makes some very pertinent points about today’s conflicts that, along with the ending, are likely to anger as many people as it validates. Turtledove deftly handles the viewpoints of all three religions without descending into stereotypes. But this is not the typical Turtledove alternate history and it may not appeal to all his fans but I recommend it. The story itself is entertaining, the characters are engaging and it will give you a lot to think over once you finish. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon.