Whenever I begin reading a new book in the mega-selling Left Behind series, I find the experience like reconnecting with an old friend. While it has been more than six months since the last release, the opening page plunges me back into the story. Each new book reveals new insights about the motivations and background of the various characters.
In the opening paragraph of this second prequel (following THE RISING), Nicolae Carpathia has turned 21 and the reader learns more about how Carpathia rises to power in his country of Romania. Through subtle manipulation and corruption, Carpathia reveals his style of leadership as he runs against parliament incumbent Emil Tismaneanu for his seat. Nicolae plans Tismaneanu's "accidental" death and the power of his evil action grows with the turn of every page. During these formative years, Carpathia meets an Italian, Leon Fortunato, who teaches cadets international diplomacy. Fortunato joins Carpathia's team as a key advisor and continues to play a prominent role throughout the Left Behind series.
From the opening pages, two primary storylines are created that switch back and forth. The second story involves Rayford Steele, the Pan-Con Airline pilot who is climbing to the senior levels of Pan-Con Airlines. In THE REGIME, we learn more about the spiritual struggle between Rayford and his wife, Irene. The Steeles belong to a church that is more of a social club than a Bible-believing church. Often Rayford prefers to play golf with his friends on Sunday than attend church. Even if he isn't attending, Rayford insists that his family remain at this lukewarm church. Through the faithful Christian witness of her friend Jackie, Irene has discovered a personal relationship with Jesus. In her infant newfound faith, Irene longs to attend the spiritually alive New Hope Church. Mirroring the division between husband and wife, the Steele family also has a growing spiritual divide between older daughter Chloe and young son Raymie. Chloe balks against anything spiritual while Raymie possesses a simple childlike faith in Christ.
Toward the last third of the book, Rayford Steele meets Abdullah Ababneh, a young member of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, known affectionately as "Smitty." While raised Muslim, Smitty has a nominal relationship to Islam that is confronted when his wife, Yasmine, becomes a Christian.
As the story progresses, a third strand is woven into this book about Cameron Williams. Immersed in his newspaper writing as a journalism student at an Ivy League school, Cameron gains a reputation for going around any rule or system. The nickname of Buck Williams sticks. He uses his school involvement to delay going home to see his ill mother; when he does arrives, it's too late, and he must attend her funeral instead. Toward the conclusion of THE REGIME, Buck has landed his dream job with the newsmagazine Global Weekly.
Because the scenes switch back and forth between Nicolae Carpathia, Rayford Steele, Buck Williams and others, the book becomes a fast-paced reading experience. These well-done stories are fascinating as a stand-alone book but contain even greater importance because of the role each one will play in the overall series. I loved the clear-cut spiritual drama that played out here. When readers reach the final pages, each character is "relatively safe." THE REGIME is another outstanding addition to the Left Behind series and is highly recommended.
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on November 15, 2005