Also by this author: The Promise, The Drummer Boy, The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion, Millie Maven and the Golden Vial, Millie Maven and the White Sword
Series: The Martyr's Song #3
Published by Thomas Nelson on February 2002
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense
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The world's worst fears have dawned. Nothing stands in the way of total destruction . . . except the love of one woman.
Deep in the Amazon jungle a young American woman and the son of plantation owners fall madly in love. For Tanya and Shannon, life is a paradise most only dream about.
But today paradise ends.
The jungle has hatched more than idyllic love. It has also spawned insidious evil. An evil shrouded in a plot so diabolically brilliant that all of America will be brought to its knees at the hands of a few terrorists.
The plan is executed to perfection. There is no way out . . . save an ancient woman whose dark past has lead her to a life of prayer in preparation for the unspeakable terror coming unleashed.
Thunder of Heaven was Dekker’s third published novel and the conclusion to his loosely-connected trilogy, The Martyr’s Song. While the connections between Heaven’s Wager and When Heaven Weeps were already tenuous (the latter being the backstory of Helen, an important secondary character in the former), it’s pretty obvious that the Thunder of Heaven wasn’t originally written to be part of any larger storyline. While there are scenes that connect it back to Helen, it’s all very tangential and disconnected from the main storyline. If I had to guess, Ted signed a three-book contract and Thomas Nelson wanted a trilogy.
Thunder of Heaven follows two American kids—Tanya and Shannon—who live in the jungles of Venezuela on a coffee plantation. Their lives are forever altered when drug lords raid their land and kill their families. Both are presumed dead, but Tanya manages to survive, change her name, and begin a new life in the States. Shannon, well, his fate is something entirely more sinister.
Eight years later, Tanya feels a longing to return to Venezuela and make sense of her past. Along the way, it’s revealed that the CIA was complicit in the takeover, allowing drug runners to take the plantation in exchange for information on a larger cartel. Also, the drug runners aren’t just drug runners: their terrorists with the goal of launching a nuclear attack on the United States.
To stop the terrorists and unravel the mystery of her past, Tanya will have to work with a rogue CIA agent called Casius who has more than one secret he’s not telling. It all hurtles forward to a spiritual conclusion that speaks to the themes of love, loss, and the power of prayer.
I’m not going to call this a bad novel, but that’s only because I’ve read the unpublished version known as To Kill with Reason. It’s a fairly generic plot with bland characters that don’t fit neatly into the established theme and tone of the series. It lacks the same spiritual gravitas, with the spiritual theme being tacked on at the end rather than being threaded through the book. It moves through some predictable plot points like a paint-by-numbers picture. There’s the Assassin Who Isn’t Who You Think He Is (bonus points if you can guess who it is…); there’s the Islamic Terrorists Who Want To Destroy America (very popular in the early 2000s); and there’s a half-hearted, anemic romance that makes no sense but it’s gotta be done. Particularly in contrast to the originality of the first two novels, Thunder of Heaven comes off more than a bit lackluster.
Ted Dekker would later polish up some aspects of this story and use the core fundamentals of a certain plot twist in novels like Thr3e and Burn. All in all, it was a bit of a dud and is mostly-forgotten. A Man Called Blessed released the same year and Thr3e, which gave Dekker his first Christy Award, released a year later. Ultimately, this one was better off in the unpublished drawer.