Category Archives: The Edge of Darkness
I think the important thing to remember as we conclude The Edge of Darkness is that it was clearly intended to be the fourth book in a five-book series. So the book wraps up a subplot by killing off nonbeliever Paul, kills mini-boss Talon, and sets the stage for the big RTC romantic reveal of the series, by having Murphy dump Isis because of her lack of belief, giving him a (probably false) alternative in the form of one Summer Van Doren, and having Isis convert so that she will finally be worthy of Murphy’s particular brand of RTC love.
Sadly (or not so sadly), there will presumably never be a fifth and final book to the Babylon Rising series, since it’s been twelve years since The Edge of Darkness was released and also Tim LaHaye is With Jesus now. So we just gotta roll with what we have.
Murphy wakes up in a Catholic hospital in Burgas, Bulgaria. There is not one person in the whole hospital who can understand him since he only speaks English, and I have to digress here and say that somewhat surprises me. I mean even if nobody there spoke any English, I’m a bit surprised that archaeologist Murphy doesn’t understand a little Russian or German. And maybe that’s just because I’m used to most humanities professors in the States speaking more than one language, and certainly most Europeans do, especially if they’re doctors or nurses, but oh well. Murph is just a dumb American.
Oh, and by the way, Murph, if you had bothered to bring Isis with you on this little adventure, even if you’re no longer dating, you would not have to wait an entire damn day to find out what’s going on. Because that’s how long it takes Levi to get there. When he finally arrives, Levi explains that Murphy made it to the surface in the sub, and a fishing vessel found him unconscious and brought him here.
And lest you think Levi wasn’t doing anything about the “very large” Black Sea…
…he had “alerted the Bulgarian Navy and they had begun a search for you.” Yeah, because I guess the Navy didn’t have anything better to do than search the entire Black Sea for a dumb, lost American.
Murphy wryly observes that this has been “Some vacation.”
Um, except it was never a vacation, Murphy. You were here to explore the cave for…whatever…and to get the plates. Yanno, the ones with the secrets to unlimited clean power forever? THOSE plates? Hey, did you tell your students that you were ditching them in the middle of the semester to go on vacation? And does Dean Fallworth know about that?
Also, and this has nothing to do with anything, but I find it kinda amusing that Murphy is in a Catholic hospital staffed with nuns, and they saved his life, but the hospital is “old” and his room has no TV. Like, I know how RTCs feel about Catholics, and it just seems like a weird little nod to, “oh, but the Catholics are actually okay at this medical stuff.”
Then again, maybe they’re not so okay with it, because it turns out that Murphy has been unconscious for three weeks. (Yes, THREE WEEKS have passed.) Also, he’ll have to have physical therapy and can’t go anywhere for a whole month while he has it.
Okay, I know not all injuries are the same and not all people are the same and everything is different and all, but…
Murphy has a head injury, several broken ribs, and a broken leg. Some years ago, I suffered a head injury that knocked me unconscious, as well as multiple broken bones. Yes, I had to do physical therapy, but I was released from my initial hospital stay in UNDER 72 HOURS.
Murphy’s a bug wuss.
Murphy and Levi commiserate about how the plates STILL need to be found, but they’ll get around to it at some point, I guess, no rush.
Then we cut to The Seven. Farewell, The Seven! I’ll miss how you Stop At Nothing!
One more fun international jaunt for our international group of supervillains, and for this final trip, it’s Versailles. Ganesh Shesha says that the Taj Mahal can’t compare to Versailles, which…really? Why,
Phillips Shesha? Want me to bring race into this? Because I will, if you make me.
John Bartholomew has big plans for a day of plotting world domination: they will “meander through the chateau grounds and…every now and then we will stop and conduct a little business.”
Well, I take it back. Apparently they’ll stop at plenty of things.
Phillips also gets in one last dig at Sir William Merton’s weight. Perhaps sensing that this is the last time he’ll get to do this, he makes a point of saying Merton is not just fat, but “grossly overweight.”
So they wander around, blathering on about oil and how “environmentalists in the United States are so paranoid about drilling in Alaska and other places.”
See, environmentalists? You’re just playing right into the Evil Future Antichrist’s hands, with your wanting to save the planet!
Then they start talking about “the Boy, who is now a man,” who “will come in all his glory in just a few short days.”
Damn, a few days? Why are you puttering around Versailles, then, guys? Shouldn’t you be getting ready to roll???
I guess not, because they continue rambling on and on about destroying Israel and also the “narrow-minded, judgmental” Christians. But just as they’re planning to stop and head out for a meal, they get a call…that Talon is dead.
Remember, three weeks have now passed. So perhaps The Seven’s worldwide network isn’t as all-knowing as you might hope and expect.
Jacob Werner is PISSED, and has “fire burning in her eyes,” but John Bartholomew is more sanguine. In fact, he’s had a person waiting in the wings to take down Murphy if Talon failed…and in fact, this person has been ready to kill Talon, if necessary, to get to Murphy. Now, since Bartholomew says he found “someone,” an “individual,” I had hope for half a second that he was referring to a woman, perhaps even Summer Van Doren. Alas, this is all just Bartholomew being weird, because it’s a man.
And we end our time with The Seven with them planning to “put forth the marking system” soon.
Finally, back to Murphy one last time, as Phillips sets the stage for the romantic triangle that would never appear in the never-written fifth book. One month has passed and Murphy is done with his physical therapy, and actually spares a thought for the Bulgarian professionals who helped him:
With his Irish temper and his struggle with weakness, he hadn’t been the perfect patient.
His struggle with weakness? GAWD, but this man is annoying. Yeah, dude: right or wrong or somewhere in between, most people get frustrated when they’re injured and need help and can even snap at the people who are there to help them, either out of love or out of professional responsibility.
But once again, a common, even banal observation is presented as something specific to Michael Murphy’s oh-so-interesting personality. Hey, I wonder if that’ll happen again in this, the final chapter?
He unlocked the door [of his house] and stepped in. The floor was piled high with bills, letters, and magazines. Too bad someone couldn’t have taken care of all the bills too. The postman had shoved two months’ worth of mail through the mail slot. That should be fun to go through. I wonder how many late charges I’ll have?
Gee, if only he had access to a phone or the internet. In Bulgaria. (I have a sneaking suspicion that Murphy thinks any country not THE U S OF A would not have working phones or internet.)
Anyway, Murphy dumps his shit all over the house, because I guess the maid will take care of it or something. And then…he calls the Parchments of Freedom Foundation and, like a stalker, asks about Isis’s schedule!
It’s very important to remember here that although we, the readers, know that Isis is not RTC, Murphy does not know this. As far as he knows, absolutely nothing has changed since he dumped Isis for Very Important Christian Reasons. And we have no indication of what has changed for Murphy other than an internal comment that he “had thought [about contacting Isis] all the time while he was recuperating.” But what was he thinking about this? Has he changed his mind and started agreeing with Isis’s idea that they can keep trying to have a relationship and let the religion thing take care of itself over time? Did he get some sort of hint from God that Isis is now RTC and Permitted? I dunno, and frankly, it seems Phillips doesn’t know, either.
Whatever the reason, Murphy jets off to Washington, D.C., to surprise Isis. No, he has not told her he’s coming.
When the taxi drives him past the Lincoln Memorial, Murphy looks at it and thinks, “What a great man of character.”
Heh, and also a person of very complex religious beliefs that really don’t align with RTC-ism, Murph!
Murphy then picks up two dozen roses for Isis, because nothing says, “I’m controlling and don’t care about your feelings” like showing up at your ex’s workplace unexpectedly in the middle of the day with flowers and an offer to Try Again!
But hilariously, and THIS IS HOW THE BOOK ENDS, Murphy shows up at the Foundation and tracks down the tour Isis is supposed to be giving (WHY is their best linguist scheduled to give a random tour in the middle of the day?), but Isis…is not there after all!
Nope, she’s been sent off to Jordan to…yanno, do what her job is, which is to translate some shit.
And so Murphy’s ending moment for the entire series is this: because he missed a surprise encounter with Isis that she knew absolutely nothing about, he is understandably disappointed, but irrationally extrapolates the whole situation to mean that “Maybe we’re just not meant to be.”
Yes, because if you make an elaborate plan to surprise an ex with an offer to try again, don’t tell her you’re coming to her place of business in the middle of a random workday, and it turns out she’s not at the building at that precise moment because Work and ALSO YOU DIDN’T TELL HER YOU WERE COMING, it means you are not to meant to be.
This is such a wonderfully fitting end to Michael Murphy’s story. And the wonderful part is, I doubt LaHaye and Phillips even knew it. This was clearly meant to be a setup for the next book, in which the love triangle would be resolved and Murphy would discover Isis’s newfound RTC-ness and they would be Raptured/die happily ever after, but instead, the series ends with Murphy being a self-absorbed prick with no understanding of other people’s feelings or lives, or even that other people have feelings or lives.
It is so fitting and it makes me so happy.
It’s a good ending to this series, and a good start to this year’s War on Wintermas.
Murphy has, against all odds or reason, managed to find the backpack holding the brass plates from Noah’s Ark. To give credit where it’s due, at least it took Murphy ten hours and a nap to get to them, because given what we know of Our Murph, I seriously would have guessed it would have taken him thirty minutes, tops.
But OH NO Talon has found Murphy. See, Talon (and I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear this) has stolen one of the subs from Istanbul. Yanno, those subs that the Mossad knew about and directed to, the subs that Murphy went and looked at and then fell asleep next to, the subs that both Murphy and the Mossad KNOW that Talon knows about because Murphy SAW HIM EXAMINING THE SUBS.
Yeah, Talon stole a sub. What a shocking twist for this book’s climax.
What is perhaps a more shocking turn of events is that Talon decides that the best use of his stolen submarine is to have a submarine fight with Murphy’s submarine. And by that I don’t mean a logical submarine fight involving torpedoes. No, I mean a fight wherein Talon bashes his submarine into Murphy’s submarine.
It makes so much sense!
Except for the facts that these are both research submarines, not remotely intended for physical altercations of any kind. I’m not even sure there can be a “winner” in a melee submarine fight. I mean, not to put too fine a point to it, wouldn’t it be kinda like smashing two intricate Play-Doh figures together? They’ll BOTH get effed up, right?
Well, I guess not, because Talon rams Murphy’s sub, and Murphy is flung across the cabin, breaking three ribs, with one of them puncturing his lung. He also sustains a head wound.
Talon, in the meantime, was putting the Carson submarine in reverse.
What, like a car? Isn’t your submarine broken now, Talon? These aren’t Monster Trucks, you know.
But I guess it’s fine, because Talon just backs up and rams Murphy’s sub a second time, this time breaking Murphy’s leg (I think), and causing a leak in the sub. I would think this would cause a leak in both subs, but it’s pretty clear based on this that I am no expert. Though probably Phillips isn’t an expert, either.
Talon then pulls a Bond Villain and heads off to retrieve the backpack and leave Murphy to die.
And, finally remembering that he is in a Christian novel, Murphy prays.
Meanwhile, Yosef Rozen meets up with Levi Abrams, but not before having a downright Michael Murphy-ish epiphany:
Standing around in airports was not one of the things he liked to do.
Yes, because so many people enjoy standing around in airports purely for fun. Jewish or not, Yosef, looks like you’ll fit in around here just fine.
Anyway, he greets Levi as he gets off his plane, and Yosef is all, “I’ve been in Istanbul for five years, it’d be much cooler if I was home,” and Levi’s all, “Tell me about it, I’be been chillin’ in North Carolina doing karate with a self-important college professor who thinks I’m going to Hell.”
Nah, actually all Levi says about Murphy is that he “had experience with mini-subs when he was in the armed services of the United States.” Which is pretty funny, since this series has stated outright on several occasions that Murphy was Army, not Navy, and his service primarily involved Operation Desert Storm. So where he got training in mini-subs is anyone’s guess.
But they realize that Murphy has been gone too long and not radioed back, and also that one of the mini-subs was stolen and that “it has to be” Talon…
…but sadly there is absolutely nothing these trained Mossad agents can do, because…
“The Black Sea is very large.”
“I know, Yosef…I know!”
This reminds me of when Trump informed us that water is wet and hurricanes are not good.
Back in his sub, Murphy sees that Talon is about to get the plates. So he manages to turn on his sub and head towards him. Talon initially flees, but then thinks better of it and turns back around to try to ram Murphy again.
How is Talon’s sub still intact after ramming another sub twice now?
I guess it doesn’t matter, because Talon accidentally kills himself.
Yep, it’s just that anti-climactic. Talon maneuvers his sub to get a better shot at Murphy (HOW?) and he just bashes himself into a sunken ship. Specifically, the “crane arm” of the ship, which pierces his window.
Does this little exploration sub not have a proximity alarm, or is that just in Star Trek?
Ah well, so I guess it’s kinda Talon’s own hubris that dooms him, like if he hadn’t turned around to finish off Murphy, he’d be fine. And Murphy sees some poetic justice in how Talon dies (though strangulation and drowning aren’t really the same thing).
And to be honest, I’m kinda impressed with how Murphy takes this whole turn of events. Perhaps it’s not very Christian of him, but he gets closer to the drowning Talon (stuck in his own submarine seat with the seatbelt stuck) and even shines the sub’s light on him so he can see him drown in living color.
Sweet Laura’s justice has finally arrived.
Not that I’m not sympathetic, Murphy, but that’s a really weird way of putting that.
And so the grievously injured Murphy has to leave behind the plates (though he certainly knows exactly where they are now), because he has to jet his damaged sub to the surface.
Oh, and pray. He prays again. Because we don’t have much longer to go in this very Christian novel where a man just watched another man drown, trapped and alone.
So I made a mistake in the last installment: apparently the subs that Murphy saw were just some subs that the friendly Mossad agent mentioned that just happened to be at that dock. But they’re not the sub the Mossad actually procured for Murphy. That sub is waiting for him in Varna.
Okay, so if it’s at Varna, and Varna is the best jumping-off point for this expedition, why did the Mossad put Murphy up in a hotel in Istanbul? Why not just get him to Varna ASAP? And why did Murphy waste his time with walks and naps when he could have been getting to Varna?
Another mystery for the ages. But hey, if that had happened, Murphy wouldn’t have seen Talon, and gotten to beat the snot out of the Moar Arabs.
So, despite his fears that Talon will steal one of the subs he was clearly casing, Murphy just charters a short flight to Varna, and gets a crash course in mini-subs and metal detectors.
Then Murphy just sets out, all alone, with a few whole hours of training, and spends TEN HOURS (and five pages) searching the ocean for the backpack with the plates. He sees some cool fish and some sunken ships and even some sharks, and I am making it more exciting in writing it than it is to read about it. Oh, and he takes another nap, too.
And then he finds the backpack. But gasp, choke, cliffhanger…Talon might be hanging around!
Chapter 61, and Murphy actually spares a thought, for a grand total of about a minute, for Isis.
Murphy let out a long sigh. He missed her.
Aw, poor baby. Hey, YOU dumped HER, remember?
Since time is apparently not at all of the essence, Murphy takes a walk away from his hotel, down around the Bazaar. Then he has a relaxing dinner and takes a taxi down to the pier to check out his very own minisub.
And since the world exists to smooth the way for everything Murphy does, the cab driver not only offers to wait, but, when Murphy refuses, advises the dumb American that this is not the place for Americans to wander around alone, and then gives Murphy his personal cell phone number so he can call him, anytime of day or night, for a ride.
Murphy wanders over to look at the subs, remembering with perfect clarity a magazine article he read, about this very type of mini submarine and how they can go 1,000 feet deep and sustain one man for 16 days with its life support. I mean, you’d die of thirst first, but whatevs.
Bizarrely, Murphy chooses this exact moment to sit down on some nearby crates and have a nap of an hour and a half. Seriously, he does this.
And he probably would have slept there all night like a bum, except that Talon and two henchmen show up.
I mean, is Talon ever NOT three steps ahead of Murphy?
They check out the subs but don’t seem to do anything to them, then head off to some dark warehouse (natch). Murphy follows them, master of stealth.
And speaking of the bad guys always being way ahead of our Murph, they knew they were being followed the whole time, because before he knows it, he is “surrounded by warehouse walls on two sides and Arabs in front and back. Talon had disappeared.”
Oh, and we’re back to this again. MOAR ARABS are attacking Murphy!
So Murphy charges one of the Arabs, ducks his knife (of course), and smashes the poor Arab’s nose.
For a moment [the Arab] tottered and then toppled backward like a giant tree that had been chopped down.
And so, almost four entire books in, we actually have a bit of Indiana Jones-ish humor. Big man fall down.
Before Murphy could shout “Timber!” the second Arab had closed the distance.
Yes, Murphy is just smug enough to yell “Timber!”, I think. He seems to have immediately forgotten how easily he was ambushed….ten seconds ago.
So of course, being Murphy, he tackles the second Moar Arab to the ground and knocks him out.
Then he calls for his personal taxi.
Yep, a true Action Hero.
I know, guys, I am super slow right now. It’s the busiest time of the year for me at work, and I’m researching new cars, too. But if there’s one thing I am determined to do, it is get in my usual BLACK FRIDAY CHRISTIAN ROMANCE BOOK, so I am gonna rip through the last few chapters of this mess of an Indiana Jones-Christian-lite book, then get to it!
So, in the continuing mission, not to capture Talon, but to smooth the way for Michael Murphy’s travels as much as humanly possible, another Mossad is pulled off his no-doubt very important duties to greet Murphy. He’s even holding one of those airport name signs, like he’s Murphy’s chauffeur or something.
While Murphy was in the air, the Mossad figured out that Talon was traveling with a Swiss passport under the name of Emile Cornelle, but not in time to catch him.
Murphy was disappointed, but not surprised. Talon was a slippery one.
But even through his disappointment, Murphy is still able to make request upon request of this guy:
“Did you get him?”
“Were you able to get any information about the ship lines?”
“Was Levi able to secure the use of a mini-submarine?”
“And what about metal detection?”
“How about bronze?”
So yes, the agent (Yosef Rozen, if you care) has answers for everything: a file of info on passenger ships like the one Murphy and Talon and Isis were on when the plates went into the deep, a small sub that Murphy gets to use for a week, no questions asked, with readers onboard for the bronze plates.
And all this happened, by the way, in just a few hours: the flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul is quite short.
Oh, and Yosef got Murphy a hotel room. And Yosef helpfully explains that it is near the Grand Bazaar in case Murphy feels like doing a little shopping.
So basically, the Mossad has turned into Murphy’s own little travel agency. Lucky him. As he wishes.
Murphy and Levi head to the airport right from the dig site and the body of poor Gideon, because there is absolutely nothing else that Talon would do under the circumstances but take a plane out of that exact airport right away.
The head of airport security is, of course, waiting for them at the airport. I say “of course” because of Levi, who called ahead and is a Mossad agent, but Ezra Talmi, head of security, quickly figures out what is really going on, and begins deferring to Murphy in every tiny way he can:
“It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Murphy. I wish it were under better circumstances. Please leave the keys in the car. We will have someone from the rental agency come and pick it up.”
Yeah, cause that’s the hot issue here.
And, again of course, he allows untrained college professor Murphy to get in on the action. Murphy wants to “walk around and do a little looking,” and Talmi responds:
Seriously. He says this.
Oh, and this will be in addition to the unbelievably huge security force that will be combing the airport, as well as “sniffer dogs” (um, why?) and the security checkpoint personnel being warned to be “very sensitive to anything that might be a weapon” (you’d think that would be a usual day for them, but okay).
So Murphy starts to wander, and immediately starts complaining in his own head about how doing this is “tougher” than he thought it would be.
The airport was packed with travelers.
But nonetheless, he persists, because “[Talon’s] got to be here somewhere.”
Does he, though? I mean, I can think of at least ten different things Talon could be doing right now, besides waiting at the airport to catch a plane.
But no, because Murphy thinks it, so it must be, and Talon is indeed at the airport. He is, however, and as usual, several steps ahead of Murphy, and has already dropped the jar and Aaron’s Rod at a safe house, changed clothes, shaved his mustache, and colored his hair. Holy crap. He actually watches Murphy come into the lounge where he’s chillin’, and not notice him at all because “he had never seen Talon in a suit before and he knew Talon had dark hair and a dark mustache.”
So, at this point, it’s pretty safe to say that Murphy will not be in the running for Super Sleuth of the Year.
So he checks back in with Levi and Talmi. Weirdly, when Talmi suggests that Talon might be in disguise, Levi immediately shoots down the idea because Talon “wouldn’t have a great deal of time to put on makeup and a false beard or anything too elaborate.”
Wouldn’t putting on a false beard take approximately thirty seconds? Just sayin’.
And this makes Levi look especially stupid because we were just told by the author that Talon had time to both shave his mustache and dye his hair.
So, with the idea that Talon having some “minor changes” would “make more sense,” they waste some time having an artist draw multiple versions of Talon with different disguises.
Damn, Talon must be halfway to Australia by now.
Oh, and they only show the drawings to Murphy, instead of to all the different people who have been combing the airport. And he immediately realizes, when he sees a sketch of a “blonde” Talon, that that was a guy he saw in the lounge.
Okay, so wait. Murphy has seen Talon. Like, face to face. So, out of all the people trying to find him at the airport, he would be the person lest needing to see pictures with various disguises. He should just be able to see that it’s him, even with a dye job and no mustache. I mean, can we not just face that Murphy has shitty observation skills and did not spot Talon. In fact, Phillips straight up says that Murphy saw Talon but “didn’t pay attention to him,” apparently because the thought of Talon wearing a suit was just too crazy.
Oh, and not for nothing, but those sniffer dogs are sure earning their doggie treats today, aren’t they?
So, they all run back to that lounge (over an hour has passed by this point), and “burst into the lounge” with four extra security guards, not doubt scaring the shit out of the “three women, one child, and three overweight businessmen” in there.
Yep, the males are overweight and businessmen. The women and child don’t rate any descriptors.
They learn that three flights have taken off in the HOUR they spent drawing: to Brussels, London, and Istanbul. Murphy immediately assumes that Talon went to Istanbul, due to the poor dead guy writing T U for them. So he must have been helpfully giving them Talon’s travel itinerary. Because he knew it, I guess. And because Talon didn’t change it on the fly, like an international assassin might.
And the incredible insights from Michael Murphy just keep on coming: he just knows that Talon is heading to Turkey so he can go find the backpack with the bronze plates that is now in the Black Sea, thanks to Murphy.
Oh, and seriously? Murphy blathers on about Noah’s Ark and all the cool stuff they found aboard (conveniently leaving out how half-a-dozen people died on his watch) for TWO FULL PAGES. There in the airport lounge.
Levi and Talmi were trying to follow Murphy’s excitement and story about the ark.
Yeah, I bet they were. The four nameless security guards, meantime, were…I dunno. Phillips forgot about them.
And so, as usual, Murphy ends this whole pointless episode by enlisting others to do his work for him. He dragoons Levi into finding “contacts, someone who could get us a mini-submarine?”
“And by us, I mean me.”
And he gets Talmi, who, remember is the chief of security of this entire international airport, to get him booked on the next flight to Turkey, because Talmi certainly has nothing better to do with his time.
Yanno, for Michael Murphy, everything really is always…
Even though there was no reason to split the party, and even though there was all the time in the world to investigate both the cavern at the site and the mysterious cars that showed up, Murphy and Levi kindly and intelligently headed off into the cavern themselves. And Mossad agent Gideon, who has been cooling his heels for who-knows-how-long waiting for Murphy and Levi to arrive, heads off by himself to examine the multiple mysterious cars that have showed up at this dig site.
Gideon goes into this rather obvious trap feeling “a little apprehensive.” He all but literally bumps into Talon, who is apparently coming out the back way from the underground temple-thingie with the goods in a gunny sack.
Since neither Murphy nor Levi gave Gideon a description of Talon, when the very pleasant-mannered man with the mustache is “friendly” with him, Gideon is only mildly suspicious.
“We’re exploring. We found an entrance into a chamber in the ground. It must have been hidden in the rocks for many years. The other men are inside. Come and see what we found.” [Talon offers Gideon]
Okay, is this or is this the dig-site version of saying to a little kid, “come and help me look for my lost puppy”?
Like a chump, Gideon leans in to see what’s in the sack (it’s the golden jar), and Talon bops him on the head with his walking stick (kinda lazy of Talon, I gotta say, but he was taken by surprise and is under some time pressure). Then Talon smashes his hand so he can’t garb his gun.
Gideon knew he was in deep trouble.
Wow, he really is a Mossad agent!
This deep insight turns out to be Gideon’s last thought, because then Talon smashes his throat and kills him.
A few minutes later, Murphy and Levi make it out of the same exit Talon just used, and find Gideon’s body.
Because he’s Jewish, you see.
Levi actually tears up (which is more than Murphy did for Paul), and “suddenly remembered that he would have to tell Gideon’s wife and two children that he would not be coming home.”
“Yeah, we left him chillin’ at the dig site for hours while we had breakfast out, then abandoned him to examine multiple strange cars and men while we went exploring. Um, sorry or whatever.”
They assume that Talon will immediately try to jump the country, and Levi makes Murphy drive (!) while he calls in about Gideon. They speed off to the airport and Murphy expresses some very Christian ideas about Talon:
“This time Talon is being pursued. I hope he experiences the same fear the fox feels when the dogs are on his tail. I would love to make him suffer in pain the way he makes others suffer. He’s long overdue.”
Okay, first of all, I doubt Talon is quaking in his boots. He might be utterly incompetent, but no more than you guys. He’s evaded you this long.
Also, I get that Talon killed your wife and all, but isn’t vengeance something best left to God, Mr. Christian Hero? Or at least, shouldn’t you be focused, as a good Christian, on getting Talon into the hands of the earthly authorities, instead of making him “suffer in pain“? I don’t remember any specific spot in the Bible where Jesus urges his followers to make their enemies “suffer in pain.” Just sayin’.
So, the big cliffhanger reveal isn’t nearly exciting as we might have been led to believe.
The guys enter a big room (“It seemed much larger than” the previous room–thanks, Mr. Archaeologist who maps out dig sites.) The room contains maybe benches and an altar and four dead bodies are scattered around. I’m kinda surprised, but Levi and Murphy actually check the men to make sure they’re dead, then Murphy declares them not dead, but “priests or worshippers of Dagon.” (Really, Mr. Archaeologist, you don’t know for sure?) Murphy then looks at the altar, and seriously sees clean splotches in the dust where the jar of manna and Aaron’s rod just were. But whoever killed the men (spoiler: it’s Talon) just took them. Just a moment ago.
Thus demonstrating the inherent problems with Methuselah scouting these locations ahead of time, making a hole to get in, then just leaving and waiting for Murphy to get off his ass and find it again. Thus leaving Murphy “excited and exasperated.”
And just think, Murphy, if you had only spent less time jogging with Summer and more time doing archaeology, you’d have the artifacts in your hand now.
But Murphy is so lacking in self-awareness that he instead snaps at Levi, who proposes that they “go after whoever killed them.”
“‘Whoever’! You know as well as I do that it’s got to be Talon. We’re not far behind him. I wonder how he found out about the Golden Jar and Aaron’s Rod?”
I just love that Murphy is not concerned at all about catching Talon because he just killed four other human beings, but just because he has the stuff that Murphy couldn’t be arsed to go and get for months.
So they sensitively step over the bodies and out into the corridor…where they encounter a live body.
Now, encountering a guy who has been shot, I figure many of us would try to help. But not our Christian hero! Murphy leans over (no touching!) and demands of the MAN WHO HAS BEEN SHOT:
“Do you speak English? Do you understand me?”
The man only groaned.
Gee, go figure.
“Do you know who did this to you?”
Do you want to DO anything about this, asshat?
The dying man actually manages to make two letters in the dust before carking it.
Murphy shook his head gravely. It was never pleasant to see anyone die.
It’s a very blasé attitude coming from a man who saw his murdered wife die in front of him two years ago. Eh, it’s not the most pleasant thing ever.
The letters are T U.
And Murphy is kinda annoyed because TU doesn’t start Talon. So I suppose maybe this guy doesn’t actually speak and write English, you ass.
I’d actually like to think that the T got messed up a bit and is a messy F, and the guy wanted his last expression on Earth to be “Eff you, Murphy!”
Levi immediately searches the newly-dead guy and finds his wallet, which contains ID and some cash and, hilariously, a picture. But not of the guy’s kids, but of his terrorist cell. It’s Talon and all the other dead guys, and they’re all standing at the back of a car and you can see the license plate.
Yeah, I really don’t see why you would commemorate your terrorist group and carry around a picture of you all in your wallet. Just to help the police or military or stupid archaeologist i case you’re ever captured or killed?
Also, doesn’t the put a damper on Murphy’s theory that these guys were priests or Dagon groupies?
So Murphy and Levi decide to head back upside so Levi can actually make a call for reinforcements. Also, they’ve left their friend up there alone, and Talon is around, so there’s that, too.
And thank goodness for that: four books in, and this is BY FAR the least interesting series of back-in-the-Bible we’ve come across yet. I can only imagine what we will get if Phillips ever writes the last book in the series. (As Tim LaHaye has moved on to his eternal reward (or whatever), maybe Jerry Jenkins will step in as Biblical Consultant.)
In yet another instance of animal cruelty in the Bible, when the driver-less cart with the ark wanders into a random field, the Levites sacrifice the cows pulling the cart as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the poor cows never did anything to anybody.
So they keep constant watch over the Ark (there seems to be no long-term plan of what to do with this stupid thing), and unsurprisingly, eventually curiosity gets the best of some random dudes guarding it, so they open it and die, but not before pulling out the golden rats and tumors, and also, impliedly, the jar of manna and rod of Aaron.
Like that, except nobody’s face gets melted.
Oh, and because God is just a super fair kinda guy, he kills not only the men who looked directly into the Ark, but FIFTY THOUSAND OTHER GUYS WHO NEVER DID ANYTHING, MANY OF WHOM PROBABLY DID NOT KNOW THE ARK WAS EVEN THERE.
So they cover the Ark without looking at it, and send it off to be guarded by…somebody, I don’t care who, and the priests of Dagon take the “two items” to the temple, which is where Murphy now FINALLY is.
Sorry, this story just doesn’t have the dramatic pull of Noah’s Ark.
Seeing as how Murphy has come on this particular adventure with only his good pal Levi (no Isis, because he isn’t pseudo-dating her anymore; no students or assistants or colleagues, because a Manly Man doesn’t need to share the glory), it makes sense that another character would be provided. Then, we don’t have two strapping Manly Men sweating at a dig site all by themselves, like they’re gay or something.
By the way, does it strike anyone else as odd that Levi is ALWAYS available to Murphy? Go to Israel on a random archaeological dig? Sure! I mean, is his job at the Mossad to just smooth Murphy’s way at any time? Doesn’t he have a family? (I mean, he does, because they are mentioned in Babylon Rising, but I think Phillips forgot.)
Anyway, I guess the Mossad specializes in providing guys who can just go anywhere and help Michael Murphy at the drop of a hat, because here’s another: Gideon. While Levi was picking Murphy up at the airport and then taking him out to breakfast, Gideon was just chilling the whole time at the dig site, because this trained Mossad agent of thirteen years had absolutely nothing better to do with his time.
He also has two entire lines in this chapter. So, there’s that.
So Murphy and Levi show up and there are introductions all around. Amusingly, but in keeping with the theme of this series, Murphy is “Michael” to Levi, “Dr. Murphy” to trained Mossad agent Gideon, who is apparently volunteering his time out of the goodness of his heart.
Not one to waste any more time now that he has actually gotten off the couch after 53 chapters, Murphy just plunges right into Discovery. He picks a wall that “there might be something behind,” and Gideon looks at it and makes the first of his two contributions:
“Dr. Murphy. Come and look at the mortar around these rocks. It looks different.”
If this seems confusing, it is to me, too. I have zero picture in my mind of what these guys are looking at. There is no description beyond the rather confounding: “Look how the hillside rises behind the wall. The hillside looks like it was cut out.”
With utmost respect for the historicity of the site, Murphy just plops down and chips at the mortar with a knife (use the right tool for the right job, Murph!). He opines that the mortar is fresh and finds “a cavity” behind it. Levi volunteers the use of a shovel he has in the back of his car, because they didn’t bring any other equipment. (No, really.)
Perhaps coming to terms with his uselessness, Gideon volunteers to stay behind while Murphy and Levi crawl into the hole, and also to check on three cars that have been here the whole time that the men are only just now even slightly curious about.
The hole turns out to be a tunnel/passageway, and the guys head down it, and whaddaya know, it just so happens to lead to “some kind of secret room”!
It’s just that simple!
(Also, it’s not so secret, seeing as how it was at the end of a corridor with hooks for lamps, at the end of which was an archway leading to the room itself.)
This “secret room,” Murphy opines, was a “storage chamber for the temple [of Dagon].” (So, why would a storage room have to be secret, then?)
Murph and Levi survey the walls, and decide that someone was recently trying to chip away at them, to no avail. Then they hear popping sounds coming from the other side of the wall, and Desert Storm vet Murphy has to look to Levi to figure out they were gunshots. Geez, no kidding, eh?
The men decide to need to head towards the gunshots, and try to find a way through the wall. Again, it’s Levi to the rescue, as he is the one to remember Meth’s advice to push on the king’s head, which Levi interprets to mean the king of the jungle, because there is a lion’s head carved in the wall. So they push, and in an Indiana Jones-ish fashion, the wall slides open.