Jesus returns at last in this 12th novel in the phenomenally popular Left Behind series, vanquishing his foes and ushering in a new millennium of peace and righteousness. Ray Steele is the only member of the original Tribulation Force alive to see it, however, since Buck Williams endures a bloody death in the opening pages. The novel's pacing suffers greatly from its own foregone conclusion. Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia, once a fearsome and suave foe, is reduced to shrill hysteria in this installment, and seems more of a cartoon character than a credible instrument of Satan. And the final wars (there are four of them in quick succession) add no drama to the plot, since believers are by that point impervious to harm; neither the bullets from the Unity army or the supernatural lightning raining down from the sky can touch the Christian holdouts. It must have been difficult to imagine the words that Jesus would speak on such an occasion, but the authors' cautious solution-to draw almost solely on the statements spoken by or about Jesus in the New Testament-feels wooden. However, the book is not devoid of humor, and fans of the series will enjoy the gentle, affectionate camaraderie that exists among the excited members of the ragtag brigade of believers. For readers who have stuck with this soap opera through thick and thin, there is a real emotional payoff in seeing the characters' reunions with their loved ones who died during the Tribulation.