While reading The Mullah’s Storm, by Thomas Young, images of my brother-in-law playing his Xbox kept circling through my head. He enjoys playing first person shooters where a black ops, gun toting, knife wielding, bomb defusing, carnage creating hero blasts his way through obstacle after obstacle, while also being quiet enough to snipe an enemy at 1,100 yards in the middle of a storm. And because of that I believe that this is a book he, and other military-adventure loving readers, would really enjoy. It took on the tone, speed, and non-stop action of a war game and was a lot of fun to read.
In the first few pages a US military aircraft is taking off with very important cargo, a high ranking mullah. [I have been surprised in the last few days that a few well informed, well educated people did not know what a mullah is; it is an Islamic religious teacher.] The plane is leaving Afghanistan to take this prisoner somewhere very secure when it is shot out of the sky and crashes into the snow covered Hindu Kush, Afghanistan’s mountainous wilderness. The co-pilot, Michael Parson, and Master Sergeant Gold, take the prisoner and flee into a storm the Americans call a 100 year storm since they haven’t ever seen it this bad. The mullah claims this storm is an answer to his prayers, a way for Allah to protect him and bring vengeance on the Americans.
But Parson and Gold are determined to keep their prisoner and stay alive. Part of the adventure is the conflict with man, in this case the Taliban searching for their mullah. The other conflict, nature, offers just as much excitement and drama.
Young, a new novelist, tells his story like a pro. He uses military terms with skill, making them sound natural while providing the needed context for ignorants like me. The geographical descriptions are sufficient to get a clear picture of the immense battle Parson and Gold are up against. And he does an excellent job of steering clear of the politics of the war. In this story, the war simply is, the characters and survival are all that matter. He doesn’t drag his story down by dwelling on the intricacies of war or the philosophical and religious reasons motivating the war. He hints at these issues just enough with a broad swath that the characters are real and believable but not overly complex. The deepest he gets is this (which I found to be a poignant reminder): “With all that’s riding on this mission, [Parson] realized, exhaustion is just another field condition. One more thing to overcome in the protection of civilians sleeping soundly, warm, well-fed, and oblivious.”
Having never read a military styled novel, I was surprised at how thoroughly I enjoyed this quick read. There is infrequent use of language, including the Big Ef, but none distracting from the story or unnecessary to the grittiness of the situation. I gladly recommend this book. It is for fans of military novels and anyone looking for an exciting adventure.