This is not a novelist’s novel. Clark is a good writer but not a gifted fiction writer. Still, the point of the book is not the literary merit. Clark is trying to show one possible result of “if things go on as they have been.” It is not a pretty sight. He populates his tale with players designed for their expository value. It is clear that the viewpoints presented are intended to represent viewpoints held by specific actors in the real stage of international politics. I enjoyed reading the book and was quite able to get past the clumsiness of Clarke’s fictional style. He portrays a Saudi Arabia, transformed by fundamentalists into Islamyah, but with Islamists who inhabit the real world, and with whom one can negotiate in good faith. He portrays an Iran bent on conquest, less by military means than by stealth and intrigue. He shows extremist American interests bent on faith-based instead of reality-based designs. This provides a bit of viscera to the ongoing mystery that is the Middle East cauldron. Recommended for its content not its style.