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Literature / Babylon Rising

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The Babylon Rising sequence is a Christian-themed thriller series by Tim LaHaye (of Left Behind fame) and co-writers Bob Phillips and Greg Dinallo (who worked on the first novel only). The story follows Adventurer Archaeologist and Bible scholar Michael Murphy in his attempts to find evidence of The Bible's truth by recovering artifacts. However, the stakes grow dramatically when Murphy uncovers an Ancient Conspiracy, in which a powerful secret society known as "the Seven" seeks to throw America into chaos, seemingly in a bid to bring The Antichrist to power. In his attempts to thwart the Seven, Murphy is aided by the mysterious Methuselah, an eccentric billionaire Hollywood Atheist who provides him with information; Isis Proserpina McDonald, an expert in ancient languages; Shari Nelson, his research assistant; and ex-Mossad agent Levi Abrams. Working with the Seven are Talon, an assassin who trains falcons to kill for him, and Corrupt Corporate Executive media mogul Shane Barrington.

The series was originally supposed to span five volumes, but was left uncompleted at the time of Dr. LaHaye's death in 2016. The four that were published are:

  • Babylon Rising (2005)
  • The Secret on Ararat (2006)
  • The Europa Conspiracy (2007)
  • The Edge of Darkness (2008)

As with Left Behind, there is a blog which dissects and criticizes the books, with a complete overview of the first book here.

The Babylon Rising series provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Isis. She is not a Hollywood-style Action Girl who easily beats five men three times her size by any means, but competent enough by more realistic standards, and gets a number of badass moments (including shooting a villain).
  • Aerith and Bob: Michael Murphy and Isis. The latter is well aware that her name is unusual (in fact, she was bullied for it in school) — her father was an archaeologist and enthusiast for ancient Egyptian culture.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Arthur Barrington, the son of villain Shane Barrington: a sculptor with dyed hair, piercings, a fondness for leather, and no girlfriend.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: Talon, the main henchman employed by the Seven to thwart Murphy, is South African, as well as a very dangerous Psycho for Hire.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Luciferian group who plans to take over the world was founded waaaay back in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The Seven want Shane Barrington to use his media power to discredit Evangelical Christians. In order to convince him, they give him lots of money and kill his son.
  • Artifact of Doom: A reoccurring element of the series, mostly artifacts that are non-Jewish and non-Christian in origin.
    • The bronze serpent, in Babylon Rising.
  • Author Avatar: Michael can be read as one for LaHaye, supporting similar conservative and Evangelical views on politics and religion. According to Word of God, Murphy was actually inspired by LaHaye's son-in-law in real life.
  • Author Filibuster: Michael will sometimes stop to make speeches detailing LaHaye's views of the world.
  • Author Tract: Babylon Rising expounds at length about how Evangelical Christians are persecuted by "secular humanists", One World Orders who want to bring world peace are secretly evil, evolution is false, the New Age is a satanic plot, The Bible is inerrant, and America is in constant danger from terrorists. The series ultimately exists to get these points across.
  • Badass Bookworm: Isis McDonald, at least in the first book.
  • Butt-Monkey: Paul Wallach, Shari's on-again, off-again boyfriend. Belittled by Michael, manipulated by Shane Barrington, and subject to constant evangelism from Shari. His climactic Butt Monkey moment comes when he is brutally injured by Talon while protecting Shari. However because of his change in attitude toward God, it may have been possible for him to have believed before he fell into a coma.
  • Chickification: Isis becomes relatively less proactive in the later books; some fans speculate that this is due to the change in co-authors, with Bob Phillips having another take on the character than Greg Dinallo. Even so, though, she still has badass moments there as well.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: The Seven is made up of two British men (one apparently a Roman Catholic priest), a Spanish man, a communist Chinese general, a German woman, a Romanian woman, and an Indian man.
  • The Cutie: Shari Nelson
  • Dark Mistress: Stephanie Kovacs to Shane Barrington until she becomes a Christian
  • Dean Bitterman: Archer Fallworth of Preston University, at least to Michael. A bit unusual in that he never bothers students, only one of the professors. We never see him interact with anyone else.
  • Disposable Woman: Laura Murphy. How to get around the problem of giving Michael a love interest without making him unfaithful or single? Have Talon kill his wife early on.
  • Earth Is Young: Michael Murphy is an honest Biblical creationist, and doesn't find anything in his archaeology to contradict that position. Indeed, part of his motivation for finding Noah's Ark in The Secret on Ararat is to prove the Biblical flood story.
  • Expy: In many ways, Michael Murphy can be described as a more overtly Christian version of Indiana Jones: an Adventurer Archaeologist professor who would rather travel the world chasing Biblical artifacts than teach classes, is prone to Indy Ploys and Casual Danger Dialogue, and invariably gets tangled up with colorful villains and vast international conspiracies.
  • Failed a Spot Check: After blowing up the church, professional assassin Talon is watching the flames with satisfaction when he abruptly realizes that he's left his keys in the basement.
  • Fiery Redhead: Isis McDonald is usually a peaceful philologist in daily life, but becomes a Spirited Young Lady to match her fiery hair on her adventures with Murphy.
  • The Fundamentalist: Michael Murphy, Laura Murphy, Reverend Bob Wagoner, Shari Nelson. All played totally straight.
  • Happily Married: Michael and Laura Murphy
  • Heel–Face Turn: Shane Barrington in The Edge of Darkness.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Methuselah. He mocks Michael's faith every chance he gets, yet he leads Michael to evidence of the Bible's truth.
  • Hollywood Satanism: In the form of Luciferians whose group goes back to Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.
  • In Medias Res: Babylon Rising begins with Michael plummeting down a hole. The Secret on Ararat begins with Micheal almost drowning. The Europa Conspiracy begins with Michael falling down a cliff. The Edge of Darkness begins with Michael jumping off a moving roller coaster. All of these are "tests" engineered by Methuselah.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Stephanie Kovacs
  • Meaningful Name: Alfred Meinrad, the morally ambiguous scientist who is a leader in the Ancient Conspiracy. Isis explains his names as "counselor to the elves" and "strong advisor" — i.e., one who is friends with spiritual powers, and a certain mighty advisor in particular.
  • The Mole: There's one in Murphy's party in The Secret on Ararat, natch. Interestingly enough, Blake isn't there on behalf of the Seven, but rather on behalf of the CIA.
  • Mysterious Backer: Methuselah supports Murphy's efforts (albeit sometimes in jerkassish ways) despite being an atheist himself. It's never made clear just what his real endgame is; presumably this would have been revealed in the lost final volume of the series.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Talon.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: It's not Latin, but several cult members chant in a dead language over the body of a kidnapped girl. Michael tries to intervene, is almost killed himself, but Isis saves the day by knowing the language herself.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Seven. They like to sit in darkness so their guests can't see them clearly.
  • Professional Killer: Talon.
  • Progressively Prettier: Isis is an unusual literary case of this. In the first book (which was co-written by Dinallo), she was more cute than beautiful, but Bob Phillips would go on to write her as more attractive in each installment, with characters comparing her to a model in The Edge of Darkness. Some of this is probably justified, though, since she undergoes some makeovers in between, and may have been Beautiful All Along.
  • Psycho for Hire: Talon is an effective assassin/enforcer, but also loves his job.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The Brazen Serpent and Noah's Ark.
  • Religion Is Right: Evangelical Christianity is the only way to live a moral and fulfilled life. All non-Christians are destined for Hell.
  • Show, Don't Tell: We are told that Michael Murphy is a dedicated teacher, yet he spends the bulk of the novels abandoning his classes to hunt for Biblical artifacts.
  • Straw Character: Dean Archer Fallworth, who exists solely to attack Micheal's faith and teaching methods in poorly-done arguments just so that Author Avatar Michael can crush them.
  • The Antichrist: Not a big player yet, but the books are heading in that direction.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Isis McDonald in the first book, when she "hides" in frumpy clothes.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Talon does this to Shari's brother, Chuck.