In James Herbert's Portent it is the near future and signs of an impending global disaster are multiplying. Earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions sweep the earth. As the storms and tempests rage, a series of ominous events signal the emergence of a new and terrifying force.
While scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef a diver watches fascinated as a tiny light floats past him towards the surface. Moments later he is torn to pieces as the reef erupts with colossal power.
On the banks of the Ganges, a young boy pauses from his back-breaking labours, transfixed by the play of a mysterious light amidst the monsoon rains, before a towering geyser of boiling water bursts from beneath the streets, scalding him to death.
In the Chinese city of Kashi travellers bring back reports of a strange light seen shining above the endless dunes of the Taklimakan Desert. And as the city's inhabitants watch for its return, the desert rises up to engulf them in a tidal wave of sand.
All have seen a portent. A sign of unimaginable powers about to be unleashed. A sign that something incredible is about to begin . . .