Paracelsus By James Powton

In a world full of terrorism events and once again the threat of nuclear war, Paracelsus by James Powton is a fictional book built around an all too real situation that will interest those interested in war stories and history even if this is a fictional book.  The story involves a secret nuclear arms operation undergone by Russia that is eventually dismantled but not dismantled well that is rekindled by two Terrorists who grew up in a war ravaged area.  The plot broadens to include several countries including the USA whose Vice President becomes the target of one of the attacks.  There are other factors including a government cover up to protect some of the secret information, a double agent in the CIA, and a fake war being fought to aid the leader of Russia as well as businessmen to gain popularity and money while they aided the terrorists.

I have to be honest in saying I don’t know that I understood the first part of this book in any kind of depth.  I was following that there were sleeper agents in the U.S. that had a new Red Mercury nuclear bomb but due to the book flipping between different places and admittedly not reading what I considered to be a fail on the part of the author who listed the scene information each time he changed places, I guess I missed that this was a prelude to what the story was going to be about.  Fortunately I was able to catch up as the characters discussed what had happened in the last couple of scenes and eventually caught myself up so I knew what was happening at the end.  The story in and of itself is all too close to home and very well thought out.  The author either made things sound right as far as bombs and operation protocols went or he did a lot of research to make this realistic; either way there is a clear talent there.  The characters were believable and well developed into three dimensional characters.  The author really got into their head and their belief systems to make their responses and actions shine through.  I found myself feeling somewhat sorry for the terrorists given their background and able to see how they became what they has become.  There were politicians with honor and morals mixed into the overly immoral system and I found myself very drawn to them.  I ended up appreciating the story and the cast of characters creating it.

My biggest complaint with the story is the way it is structured with all the scene information changing rapidly throughout the entire chapter.  It seemed like a lazy way for the author to tell us something instead of writing the scene out into coherent paragraphs.  It also didn’t allow for as much dialogue that would have helped move the story onward.  The omnipresent narrator tells us all we need to know and I found myself actually craving dialogue and wanting the story to flow better.  Perhaps shorter chapters that would have allowed the author to go back and forth between different places would have also helped this along but the description of when and where the characters were got old quickly especially when they were written in several cases just to move the time forward by fifteen minutes.  It would have been better if the author had just worked in the changes and progression forward in the familiar way of using paragraphs that blend into one another.

Along those lines, I think the inability of the writer to blend the scenes together in a familiar way also lead to confusion in the book which kept me from enjoying the book and the story the author had obviously worked very hard to put together.  That is really a shame!  It turned out to be a really good story with many good characters in it but I felt like I was fighting to just understand what was happening throughout the book until I knew enough of the story that I could quickly piece it together towards the end.  I’m afraid most readers might give up before they can appreciate this story due to its inability to flow seamlessly; in other words, it may just feel too overwhelming.  The editing job seems very professional; it is the structure that makes this a harder read.

In all, if you stick with this book, I believe you will enjoy the story and the characters.  It has a way of giving us human insight even to the bad characters and insight into the good character’s bad actions.  History buffs and those who enjoy war stories will certainly find this thrilling and given our current state of affairs, this may be a read anyone should consider.  If nothing else it is certainly very eye-opening.  I have considered giving this a neutral review because of the structure problems and the very real problems I had following the story; however it is clear the author researched or at least developed terminology that makes everything about the book feel very real such as dialogue during a bombing mission to try to get rid of the terrorists, and also clear the author has a realistic and brilliant story to tell so I am going to give it a four out of five stars; however I just can’t get past the structure that made it hard to follow which mostly seemed like just being a little lazy about transitioning paragraphs to tell different aspects of the story or making shorter chapters to address different topics and therefore I can’t give it a full star review.


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