Editorial Review: ISIS Gambit by Brad Carlson

Editorial Review: ISIS Gambit by Brad Carlson

Brad Carlson brings us another thrilling novel in The Gambit Series.

This book, The ISIS Gambit, begins with a devastating terrorist attack on four major sporting events, killing thousands of Americans. The American government is swift to investigate, and they discover that a small terrorist group, Hezbollah, is behind the attack. But the bigger question is, who helped them? As they uncover which countries are involved and to what degree, they make plans to strategically retaliate both politically and militarily.

The two main characters of the book, Tom “Stonewall” Jackson (an American colonel) and Dani Yaniv (an Israeli major), find themselves at the heart of the military response in Syria and Turkey. Unfortunately, America’s involvement in the Middle East lays the groundwork for ISIS to emerge from the shadows and make a series of power plays that threaten the entire world.

In terms of providing fast-paced action, The ISIS Gambit succeeds wonderfully. The devastating terrorist attacks in the book’s opening pages are frighteningly realistic—something that could legitimately happen in the world today. The politics involved are also reflective of the world’s current situation, like the dynamics in the Middle East and the political tension that exists between America and Russia. The most gripping parts of the book deal with the actual military operations, where it’s clear that Carlson has done his research. His portrayal of these makes you feel like you’re right in the thick of things, whether it’s a ground raid or aerial warfare. Readers get plenty of military action here—fighter jets, submarines, paratroopers, and more—as a variety of armed forces are called upon to defeat ISIS.

Despite the great action-filled plot, the book has a few things that detract from its quality. For example, the vast majority of the story is written as dialogue. As such, things are often repeated as various characters pass the same information to one another, which often becomes redundant. Also, the dialogue sometimes feels forced and unnatural, containing intricate details that would probably be better relayed through narration.

In terms of characters, it takes a little time to learn the multiple names of the main soldiers (Jackson/Stonewall/Chaos and Dani/Arielle), but the two are certainly likable. They’re both seasoned soldiers with the scars to prove it, and it’s definitely a plus to have a character like Dani—a strong-willed, feisty young woman who has no trouble keeping up with her male counterparts. However, the characters could definitely use more emotional depth. Little is mentioned about their emotional responses either to the terrorist attacks in the beginning or to the carnage that surrounds them on the battlefield. In fact, characters sometimes even say trivial or jovial things in the middle of firefights or during key moments in the global crisis. Perhaps there’s some truth to this—maybe some soldiers and government leaders learn to detach themselves emotionally from what they do. But nevertheless, a book like this has huge potential, not just for fast-paced action but also for profound emotional impact.

If you’re looking for a political thriller with plenty of action, this page-turner is for you. Though The ISIS Gambit doesn’t offer as much in terms of emotional involvement, it still paints a realistic picture of terrorism, warfare, and where our world may be heading.