The Last Turn of the Wheel: Book Two of the Ashoka Chronicles
by Alan Bassett
During the first quarter of the 21st century, three superpowers vie for world domination: the Western Coalition, the Islamic Union, and the Empire of China. A fourth force has emerged from obscurity that threatens to disrupt the balance of power and radically change human destiny. The Ashoka Circle of Nine, a secret society of mystics in the Himalayas, possesses an energy source alien to this planet, a highly condensed, volatile element said to make nuclear bombs look like child's play.
The Age of Religious Wars begins with the first exchange of nuclear missiles between the superpowers. The Ashoka Circle of Nine instructs the Buddha Conspirators to set their Grand Design into action, a plan that was created during the time of Gautama Buddha 2500 years ago.
Chang-po Trangh, the world’s most wanted terrorist, is commissioned to transport the doomsday element from London to Kashmir. A host of intelligence agencies from Asian and Western nations are in search of the conspirators and their weapon of mass destruction, because it promises to be the key to world domination. Chang travels by caravan along the ancient Silk Road through the world’s most forbidding deserts and mountains to evade capture by British, French, and Islamic agents.
Chang is able to elude his pursuers and transfer the weapon to two of his fellow conspirators, but they are not so fortunate. Jason Hargreave and Jennifer, his lover, are attacked and left for dead on a desolate road in northern India. The bodies of the conspirators are transported to Mount Nanda Devi by the Abraca-bin, a tribe of desert warriors, and their weapon is handed over to the Sufi prophet Ali al-Fatah Jazir.
Former CIA agent and State Department adviser Courtney Lethbridge is appointed by the President to head the new department investigating the Buddha Conspiracy. Courtney is plagued by conflicting loyalties. Unknown to his own government, in his youth he was a member of a Buddhist community in Kashmir led by Master Jyangtzu, who is now a suspected leader of the conspiracy. Adding to his consternation, Courtney learns that his daughter has fallen in love with one of the Buddha Conspirators and joined their terrorist network.
Abu bin Salaam, Caliph of the Islamic Union, declares a Jihad against the West and starts a military invasion of Europe and India. When the President of the United States threatens to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the Empire of China, the Ashoka Circle of Nine decides on a counter initiative to prevent the annihilation of the human race. They commission the Last Adept to stop the Wheel of Time and thus open the portal to the Fourth Dimension.
Failure is not an option, but even the Ashoka Circle of Nine cannot know or control the outcome.
- Alan Bassett, November 2010
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