This year, Tyndale Publishers has re-released the Left Behind series, repackaged! The new covers are great and if you haven’t read this series you should definitely pick these up. It looks as if it’s books 1 through 12 that have been released, so in honor of that I’m going to post quick summaries of each of them here, along with the new cover art. At the end, I’ll do a wrapup review of the series as a whole.
The series begins with “Left Behind.” This book starts just before the rapture of the church takes place. On an airplane in mid-flight we meet Rayford Steele, Hattie Durham, and Cameron “Buck” Williams. Rayford is the plane’s pilot. Hattie is a flight attendant. Buck is a journalist. Panic arises when sleeping passengers wake up to find loved ones missing, but their clothing is still in their seats. Back on the ground Rayford realizes his wife and young son are gone, their pajamas laying in their beds. He frantically tries to reach his daughter Chloe who is off at college. Hattie tries to find her family. Buck is trying to get the story. By now reports are coming in of strange stories and theories. Pregnant women are suddenly barren. People are missing all over the globe. Is it aliens? Some kind of biological warfare? Rayford knows the truth, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. His wife had tried to tell him a million times, but he wouldn’t listen. Christ had come back for his church and he, along with millions of others, had been left behind. He and his daughter Chloe find a pastor, Bruce Barnes, who had also been Left Behind, but he has answers. While the whole world goes crazy trying to figure out the events, rising politician Nicolae Carpathia is there to ease the world’s grief and keep order. He quickly rises to power, but Buck can see that Nicolae is not the peaceful, humble man he claims to be, and he tries to convince Hattie Durham, Carpathia’s new personal assistant, to stay away from him.
In the second novel, Rayford, Chloe, Bruce and Buck have formed the Tribulation Force in anticipation of the horror to come over the next seven years. Carpathia has formed the one-world government, and the one-world religion which embraces every religion that doesn’t claim one way to heaven or one God. Through a strange turn of events, both Rayford and Buck end up working for Carpathia. Rayford as his pilot and Buck for Global Community Weekly, which is now the only authorized media outlet. Romance begins to blossom for some and tragedy strikes for all. War breaks out as Carpathia attacks anyone who disagrees with the new world order, calling them enemies of peace and tolerance. The Red Horse of Apocalypse runs rampant.
As Nicolae Carpathia rises to absolute power, the Tribulation force keeps tabs on him through Rayford and Buck. Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah has shocked the world by claiming that his years of study has led him to the final conclusion that Jesus really is the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. His life in danger, he has gone into hiding. Two supernatural witnesses have appeared in Jerusalem. They preach the Gospel for hours at a time, but no man can harm them. Anyone who tries to doesn’t have time to regret it. The prophesied 144,000 begin to rise and spread the Gospel under the teaching of Ben-Judah. Waters run red with blood, and the great earthquake rocks the entire planet.
Rayford and Buck have survived the global earthquake and begin searching for their loved ones yet again. As Tsion goes through notes from Bruce Barnes’ studying, he finds some unsettling journal entries that affect Rayford, and possibly the entire Trib Force and its operations. Tsion Ben-Judah desperately wants to return to Israel to take part in prophecy, but the Trib Force believes he would be in too much danger and his work would best be done from hiding, so he posts his teachings on a website that gain followers faster than anyone can count. It also gets the attention of Carpathia, who is not pleased at all. A meeting of the 144,000 is called, and Carpathia makes plans to be there.
After the meeting of the witnesses, churches spring up everywhere. The 144,000 take charge, teaching their congregations from Ben-Judah internet sermons. Rayford discovers the truth about Amanda, but he is now a fugitive from the Global Community along with Buck and Chloe. Another Judgement is released, and a plague of locusts fall over the land. The effects are so terrible that people try to kill themselves, but they aren’t allowed to die. Buck’s old friend Chaim, a Jewish man who has not come to know Jesus as Messiah, is terrified as one of his employees is attacked by the creatures. Amidst the Tribulation and global chaos, Chloe gives birth to a son.
Danger increases for members of the Tribulation Force. Every day, death becomes more and more likely. The Bible prophecies that the Antichrist will die from a head wound. Certain members of the Trib Force want to be there to see it. At least one wants to be the one to carry it out. Carpathia is giving a speech when a shot rings out. Millions see Carpathia as he falls to the ground and dies, just as the prophecy foretells. Who killed the Antichrist? Was it Rayford? Hattie? The video footage will put someone in danger from the Global Community.
The seven years of Tribulation are half over. The Antichrist has been killed and one of the Tribulation Force members is the prime suspect. As the world mourns for its leader, millions make their way to New Babylon for a funeral that never happens. The Tribulation Force is in more danger than ever as the Beast takes full control and the Great Tribulation begins.
Satan is now in full control of the Antichrist, and he is demanding loyalty from all on the earth. Global Community Loyalty Mark Application Sites start popping up, and there is a deadline to receive the loyalty mark, known in Bible prophecy as the Mark of the Beast. Thos who choose not to receive the loyalty mark are sent to the Loyalty Enforcement Facilitators, which are nothing more than guillotines. It’s take the mark, or lose your head as Bible prophecy continues to come to life. Million line up to take the mark, while believers go deeper into hiding. One believer must deal with the results of being forced to take the mark against his will.
Nicolae Carpathia is finally showing his true colors, and his facade of peace has vanished. He travels to the temple, fulfilling more Biblical prophecy. The first Bowl Judgements is released and a plague affects all who have taken the mark. While many believers are in hiding or involved in underground work, one new believer stands firm against Carpathia for all the world to see. As te Jewish Remnant makes it way to Petra, plans are made for Tsion Ben-Judah to go there as well.
Carpathia sends bombs to be dropped on Petra and the entire Jewish remnant. The Tribulation Force must move again as their aliases and hideout become compromised. As the Great Tribulation continues more judgements are released and heat and darkness plague the unbelievers, giving the Tribulation Force a wonderful advantage. At least for a small time. With only a year left in the Great Tribulation, Armageddon is close at hand.
The world is on the brink of the ultimate battle of the ages. The armies of the world gather in the Middle East. Thousands are killed as they refuse to take the mark of the beast, including one of the Tribulation Force’s most beloved members. The danger has never been so thick as the world gets closer to the Glorious Appearing of Christ. Many wonder if they will live to see the event.
The last days of Tribulation are here, bringing the Battle of Armageddon as the world’s armies are gathered in the Valley of Megiddo. Most of the Tribulation Force is now in Petra with the Jewish Remnant, but only one member of the original Trib Force is still alive. As the battle rages on, believers look to the sky for the sign of the Glorious Appearing of Christ, signaling his return with the armies of Heaven, the defeat of Satan, and the 1,000 year reign of Jesus on Earth.
So these are the 12 books that have been released with the new packaging. These books must all be read to get the complete story. These are not sequels, but each book continues from where the last left off. There is a book 13, Kingdom Come, which details life after the Glorious Appearing during the 1,000 year reign of Christ, but that one really does read a little more like a sequel and is labeled as such on the old packaging. It continues from book 12, but since the Tribulation is over the events are different. I admit I found it a bit hard to summarize each book without giving away too much of the story. You meet so many characters along the way, and there are so many sub-plots, that there is never a dull moment and I had so much I wanted to say… but then you wouldn’t need to read the book if I told you everything.
What’s great about these books is that, though there are many, the sub-plots never get confusing or overbearing. You get to follow several of the characters from their points of view without ever feeling lost. The characterizations are wonderful. They come to life so easily that you will have no trouble feeling for them, or hating them in some cases. This is probably one of the most important pieces of literature for the Christian world, but the truth is, even without that stamp of importance, it’s great literature! This is a great story with great characters, and everyone should read it.
1) Overall Plot = 5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 5
Average score of 5
Overall grade = A
This was a special review post and these books do not count toward any of my reading challenges.