Ancient mysteries make ‘The Sword of David’ an enticing thriller

Ancient prophecies. Buried treasure. Closely guarded secrets. All three ingredients make for some of the most satisfying types of thrillers, not to mention globetrotting and a formidable foe or two thrown into the mix. Why do you think so many relish tales like “The Da Vinci Code” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? These adventure stories certainly contain all the hallmarks of a great thriller — tons of action, a hero worth rooting for, suspense, a few good twists — but they include one other element that has even casual fans of the genre poised for devotion: They’re rooted in some of the world’s most famous legends.

To think one might manifest truth from myth, well, isn’t that intoxicating?

Charles Lichtman’s “The Sword of David” (Bombardier Books) begins with a snapshot of a civilization in peril: The Siege of Jerusalem, 70 A.D. The High Priest and his men know this day will see the fall of thousands of Jews. In an attempt to preserve what is most sacred to them, they whisk away their holy relics to the safety of a hidden chamber, but in the chaos, some are lost. “Their apocalypse had come,” writes Lichtman as the Romans’ efforts to destroy this holy city reach their devastating conclusion. Beneath the rubble, all that survives is the Foundation Stone, believed to be the site where the creation of the world began. The Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments are nowhere to be found.

SPARKS EPIC QUEST

Jumping nearly 2,000 years into the future, the readers find themselves at the Temple Mount once again, this time in 2019 with Chaim Klein, an Israeli Special Forces officer. Unfortunately, the bloodshed won’t remain in the past, though, sadly, that’s unsurprising considering the conflict in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. A bold and devastating terrorist attack inside the Western Wall Plaza leaves dozens of Jews dead. This tragedy, however, paves the way for a remarkable discovery. In his grief, Klein finds the hidden chamber containing the long-lost Ark.

Not even 30 pages into this novel, Lichtman has already hit his readers with two calamitous events and what some, arguably, would call a miracle. It’s safe to say the reader’s pulse pounds harder with the turn of every page, and we’re still a long way from the end. Klein must now search for the Ten Commandments; but a quest on its own, no matter how momentous, doesn’t set the stakes nearly high enough for this ambitious author. So, Klein and his team must also work to stop the terrorist organizations planning attacks across several Western cities.

REVEALING THE INNER WORKINGS OF TERROR

Speaking of terrorist organizations, Lichtman pulls back the curtain on their operations, allowing readers to observe Klein’s foes as they plot their next move. While this aspect certainly increases the tension of the novel, it also serves as a source of complexity. Instead of a hazy picture of those whom the narrative calls “enemy,” the threat is clearly defined, called out by name, and the reader knows precisely what gave rise to it in the first place. With that, Lichtman has his readers on the edge of their seats as they watch a notorious terrorist stoke the flames of hatred in a young man’s heart.

Like any thrilling adventure to which one might compare “The Sword of David” (nearly every reviewer, including myself, has invoked Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”), the scope of this story is large, both in its many captivating players and, of course, in its varied and ever-shifting setting. While Klein and his team travel from Ethiopia to London, Paris, Lebanon and Rome, the readers also visit the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Istanbul. But if a series of hair-raising international missions or the looming threat of destruction isn’t enough to keep your eyes glued to the page, then perhaps you’ll find yourself enthralled by the ever-present allure of conspiracy and the promise of a wholly satisfying conclusion.

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