The First Hostage – Joel Rosenberg

J.B. Collins is in greater danger than ever before…and that’s saying something. ISIS has attacked the Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in Jordan and thousands are dead or injured, including many important political leaders. And worst of all, the President of the United States is missing.

That’s really just the beginning. Collins escapes the carnage with the King of Jordan, who seems to have taken an affinity to him while still be distrustful of him as a journalist and a Westerner. Collins is thrust into the story of a lifetime but forbidden to tell it. Perhaps years from now in a book, the king warns at one point. It’s clear that Collins’ position is one allowed out of desperation, not because it’s anyone’s preference.

Continuing the story of The Third Target, Joel Rosenberg continues to be almost prescient in his fictional works. For those unfamiliar with the series, The Third Target references ISIS as a formidable terrorist organization before we dumblings in the U.S. even knew the name. Tyndale House even expedited the release of the first book because ISIS was exploding, quite literally, on to the scene.

The First Hostage picks up right where The Third Target left off…with everyone in danger and ISIS gaining the upper hand. There’s no getting acclimated to the storyline. Rosenberg punches you in the mouth with a hard-hitting storyline that won’t relent until the final page. And one could debate whether or not it even lets up then.

Rosenberg has become known for his true-to-life writing style. The back cover of this book even contains an endorsement from a former Delta Force commander. Anytime you have Lieutenant Generals saying you write a compelling military thriller, well, you’ve succeeded as an author.

I read The First Hostage last week and, just yesterday, when an acquaintance was waxing political and talking about ISIS, I came very close to mentioning their chemical weapon stockpile in….and that’s when I remembered I knew that from a fictional book, not a news source. That’s how real Rosenberg’s plot seems.

I also appreciate the reference and explanation to ISIS’s philosophical background and theological end goals, but in a way that seems less obtuse and preachy than his Last Imam series. As a Christian novel coming from a Christian publisher, Rosenberg does also deal with Collins’ struggle with Christianity and how religion is playing a role in all the political intrigue.

The First Hostage is a must-read. Call it fiction if you want, but with Rosenberg’s track record, it’s more in the realm of “potential scenario with artistic license.”

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Author: Josh Olds

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