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Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
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Father Elijah: An Apocalypse (Children of the Last Days #4)

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  1,164 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Michael O'Brien presents a thrilling apocalyptic novel about the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of time. It explores the state of the modern world, and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary religious scene, by taking his central character, Father Elijah Schafer, a Carmelite priest, on a secret mission for the Vatican which embroils him in a se ...more
Hardcover, 596 pages
Published June 1st 1996 by Ignatius Press (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,824)
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Rachel Crooks
This book established Michael O'Brien as one of my favorite Christian writers. This quote was he novel's response to the commonly asked question, "Why would a good God permit evil?"

“The problem is not only one act of evil, but many such acts. Let us say, six million Jews and six million Gentile Poles, and tens of millions of others. That is just the Second World War. Let us say that our cosmic terrorist pushes harder and harder against the integrity of God. Let us say he uses a Stalin- now we a
...more
Christine Sunderland
May 31, 2009 Christine Sunderland rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I read Father Elijah ten years ago, and recalled how refreshing it was to read a story set in the late 20th century that was infused with the sacramental acts of God. I also recalled not being able to put it down. Would the book be as I remembered? Could I add this to my gift list for friends and family? Would this help or hinder their belief in the Christian God of love?

Our hero, Father Elijah, is a Carmelite monk, his past forged in the fires of brutal suffering. As David Schafer, a holocaust
...more
Michael
I have been meaning to read this book for several years. I like stories about the Apocalypse: don't ask me why since they tend to scare the crap out of me. We can file this one under Catholic Armageddon stories (much like Pierced By a Sword), a sub-genre of Christian Apocalyptic fiction in general (like the dreadfully written Left Behind books). This particular book was well written and fast-paced, for the most part, with a few rather long (and slightly dry) patches of dialogue thrown in.

Essenti
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Marie
It has been a long time since I read an almost-600 page novel in a matter of days. This was a really entrancing book. The characters were engaging, the plot enticing, and the spirituality instructive. It was the sort of book where the very ending was just a tad disappointing because the real ending has to be written in one's life; a literary conclusion just can't do it. A friend recommended me to read this book, and I'm very glad she did. It was a rare combination of exciting and valuable.

I can
...more
Sarah
I don't usually read introductions carefully, but once I'd read and then re-read this book I sort-of-accidentally read the introduction and it eased much of the disquiet I'd had about the book. O'Brien explains that he has written an apocalypse, "a work of literature dealing with the end of human history." This is a subject over which much ink has been spilled, and most of it has struck me as both alarmist and ridiculous. O'Brien clearly knows that he is at risk of getting himself lumped with th ...more
Regina Doman
A great reflection on the Book of Revelation, but the "thriller" parts of the story are unbearably clunky, and the other two books in the series I've read, Stranger and Sojournerd and Eclipse of the Sun are worse in this regard. O'Brien is a brilliant storyteller but he should stick to slow-moving relationship plots (as he does wonderfully in Strangers and Sojourners) and steer clear of writing about car chases, tunnels under Vatican buildings, and black helicopters.
Joyce
One of my favorite books of all time. I read it a few years ago, and still think of it often, especially as I see history unfolding before my eyes today. I plan to re-read it, next time with my husband. I would highly recommend it. I am not a Catholic, but as a believer, i appreciated the book from a Biblical perspective.
Eris Augustine
Mar 25, 2015 Eris Augustine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eris Augustine by: Taylor Marshall
Thank you, AOS! I am so glad I was able to read this book during Lent. :)
Andrea
This book tells the story of a Catholic monk who is called from the quiet of his monastic life to aid the Church(and the world) in the final days. There is intrigue and mystery involving the Vatican and a world leader who is the Antichrist. I finished reading this novel well over a month ago but haven't reviewed it at all because I just didn't know how to articulate my disappointment. Unfortunately, I still don't exactly know how to explain my distaste for this book especially in the face of so ...more
Ethan
This has an ending a bit like the movie "No Country for Old Men", so be warned. I've never read anything quite like this, and I liked it a lot. It is, as advertised, an Apocalypse, and it's pretty thoroughly biblical, but not preachy, even though it contains preaching. This story is soaked in Catholicism without any triumphalism and is epic and historic in scope. It involves a conspiracy at the Vatican, a noble Pope, and a charming and popular antichrist. Although names aren't used, JP2 and Card ...more
Kathleen Valentine
It's difficult to say what makes this book so compelling. It is a book of ideas constructed mainly in conversations and the ideas presented are so fascinating that I found myself completely absorbed every time I picked it up. Because I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools most of the concepts were ones I was familiar with and I was pleased to see these beliefs and principles which I've known all my life presented with intelligence and respect, not being misconstrued and hyperbolic.

The c
...more
Zachary
"Father Elijah" is definitely the most well-written modern Catholic novel I've read recently. Chapters 11 and 12 are so fluid and vivid they sing like a Wagner opera. The themes of faith and doubt, prayer, and trust are masterfully played with, and the writer has a definite talent for building excitement within a high-power confrontation.

Now I will consider the weaknesses of the book as I see them. Mortal sin in my book is a double-climax. The title-character completes his magnum opus sixty page
...more
Donna
How very strange. Back in 1997 I really enjoyed this book. This past year I attempted a re-read, and couldn't finish it because it didn't seem worth my time. To rate it, I took the middle road. The following write-up is from my first time around with it. I've previously attempted apocalyptic novels; but never really had the urge to finish one, mainly because of their preachy nature. Father Elijah was different. The tale itself, of Father Elijah's journey through Europe and the Middle East was en ...more
James
I could hardly put this book down. O'Brien runs circles around other authors of similar subjects. Most other end-times novels are written promoting the pre-millenial Rapture and the aftermath during the Tribulation, culminating in the pre-Millenial return of Christ. Often they read like they just copy one another, and are more interested in telling there own pet theories than in telling a story.

Father Elijah is compelling, written at above an 8th-grade reading level. It is heavy on theology, phi
...more
Miss Clark
3.5 stars

Pretty sure this was read in 2004.


The action portions of the story, the car chases and sinister plots, were definitely not the author's strength. But he excels at writing the quiet, crucial interior journey that Father Elijah is on throughout this story. Seeing Father Elijah's choices and transformation was amazing.

I loved the LOTR references in this book.

My favorite of all of O'Brien's books.
Jim Corcoran
This book is a good page-turner at face level, but under its thriller veneer attempts something a little scary. The Church is huge. 1.2 billion members. With that size will come a plurality of opinions. This book seems to present people who ask questions as dangerous. The Church needs a dose of feminism to keep it sane on earth. The Church needs dissenting opinions to initiate meaningful dialogue. The Church needs doubt to lead us to a more adult, well-thought belief in God. They are not crimes, ...more
Diane
Apocolyptic thriller, set in the present time, in which a priest is asked by the Pope to try and convert a man who he believes to be the anti-Christ. The story also delves into the priest's past. He is a Jewish convert, a holocaust survivor, and a former statesman.

I really liked the character development in this book. The author is very honest about the characters' struggles, and they are all very believable. The book also featured the most moving conversion scene I have ever encountered in lite
...more
Betsy
This is an incredible book by Michael O'Brien about the anti-christ. While the book is fiction, it gives a credible account about how the Apocolypse might happen. O'Brien, a native Canadian, was inspired to write this book when the government of Canada was passing un-Godly legislation. The author was praying infront of the Blessed Sacrament and in his despair was asking God how He could abandon Canada, when there were so many devout Catholics there. God's reply was the inspired story of Father E ...more
Melvyn Foo
Catholic apocalyptic literature: if such a genre exists, then this novel epitomises it; if not, it spearheads it. The catholicity of this novel is amazing. And that intrigue was sustained by a spy-doomsday-novel-esque plot. These aspects cured the slower parts of the book; the novel sometimes read more like a spiritual treatise than fiction.

Which is my major critic of the book: it tries too hard to make its point, at the expense of character consistency and plot smoothness. Dialogue dropped my r
...more
Ruthann
Dec 31, 2014 Ruthann rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the subject
I thought the story explored wonderful territory that I'd never read about before and which was of high interest to me. (I mean: who isn't secretly interested in the end times?) And the protagonist, accidentally become so because of the "interesting time" in which he lived and the accident of his birthplace. Oh, yeah. And he became a Carmelite friar and priest, though this doesn't figure much in the story. I would give this 5 stars except for one teensy thing: it didn't end. Silly me expecting s ...more
Courtney Oppel
As a book editor (and book addict since I first learned to read), I have to say this is one of my favorite books of all time, and one of VERY few I've ever read twice. It's an incredible experience. Period. Some of the dialog in this hefty tome will stretch your mind and reach to the depths of your soul. How many authors would attempt a serious dialog between a priest and an antichrist? Despite how "out there" such a scene would be, this author makes it so real that your heart is in your throat. ...more
J.B. Simmons
This is a profound and impressive book. It is also quirky and, at times, challenging. The author knows this. At the beginning he warns the reader: "This book is a novel of ideas. It does not proceed at the addictive pace of a television micro-drama, nor does it offer simplistic resolutions and false piety. It offers the Cross. It bears witness, I hope, to the ultimate victory of light." That it does, and I'm glad to have read it.

But the warning proves true. It's a long book, very heavy on dialog
...more
Diane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M.T. Albright
I would echo what other said about this book - it got me hooked, and I had to read to the end, but I didn't know why.

First, this is not a fast action thriller. I usually read James Bond for pleasure, and this was no James Bond. This is not a cliff hanger. But I found myself needing to keep reading because I wanted to know what happened theologically. The long bouts of theological back and forths by the characters I truly enjoyed, but perhaps only because they reminded me of so-many wine-soaked e
...more
Jonathan Spinasanto
I had high hopes for this book. It's received great reviews, and O'Brien has garnered comparisons to such Christian writers as CS Lewis and Graham Greene. I am disappointed, then, that I'm disappointed.

I was underwhelmed during the first hundred or so pages. I thought the prose was average - nothing distinct about it - it got the job done, but that was it. The story and characters were only mildly interesting. I was delighted, though, when I came to chapter 5, "Ruth." This chapter features some
...more
Cris
Two parts Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy and one part Father Brown Mysteries, this book is a fast moving page turner likely to hold the attention of even the most distracted reader. The plot of the story, the rise of a modern Anti-Christ, seems to be based way too close to reality in places. Told from a modern Catholic world view, the book will give the uniformed reader a bird's eye view of the problems that the church faces today. Still we see a lot of interesting touristy things and places (Not ...more
Frederick Frankel
This is the second of the 2 great modern Catholic novels that speculate about the Apocalypse. The first, Lord of the World, was written around 100 years ago, while the second was written in the late 20th century. Both novels describe the world of the 1990s.

O'Brien's work spends more time struggling with the mystery of evil, as makes sense for a writer working in the latter part of the 20th century. He sees Communism, Fascism, the Holocaust, and the reestablishment of the State of Israel as truly
...more
Don Mario
Riconosco di avere un debole per le trame apocalittiche. In un mondo dove la Chiesa è screditata dal di fuori e internamente scossa da venti di eresia, dove il Papa non può fidarsi dei suoi collaboratori, un monaco dal curriculum un po' speciale, riceve l'incarico di dialogare con l'emergente Padrone del mondo. Mentre si dipanano i tentativi per creare un valido contatto, il leader politico si configura sempre più come l'Anticristo (secondo i canoni dell'immaginario anglofono-protestante) e si p ...more
Patrick
Michael O'Brien annoys some of the people whom I cherish, and when off his game (as he appparently was in annother book while looking for evil in children's literature) he can be peevish or distractingly didactic.

On the other hand, this novel is unlike anything else I've ever read, and that O'Brien pulled it off as well as he has deserves notice. The book has several moral and theological layers, and a long story within the story that against all odds actually contributes to the overall work.

"
...more
Moe  Shinola
I've had to put all my other books aside, The Aeneid, Chapman's Homer, the book I'm studying about the Commedia Dell Arte. All that's gone by the wayside until this book was finished. It's inspirational fiction from a Catholic perspective. A Carmelite monk is summoned to the Vatican by the Holy Father and sent on a great adventure. Along the way the author reveals the depth of his learning, his knowledge of culture, history, theology, and also a rare talent for writing characters that just feel ...more
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Michael D. O'Brien is a Roman Catholic author, artist, and frequent essayist and lecturer on faith and culture, living in Combermere, Ontario, Canada.
More about Michael D. O'Brien...

Other Books in the Series

Children of the Last Days (6 books)
  • Strangers and Sojourners
  • Eclipse of the Sun
  • Plague Journal (Children of the Last Days)
  • Sophia House
  • A Cry of Stone
Island of the World Strangers and Sojourners Eclipse of the Sun The Father's Tale: A Novel Plague Journal (Children of the Last Days)

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“Man projects his wounds upon the world, my friend. He judges everything, and in the judging he reveals himself.” 1 likes
“Tell me, Anna, if man is capable of projecting his belief onto the cosmos, isn't it possible by the same token, that he can project his unbelief onto the cosmos?” 1 likes
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