Early last year, I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing a book that broke new ground in a cutting-edge genre of fiction that few people have heard of: Military Fantasy. That book was SHADOW OPS: CONTROL POINT written by Myke Cole. At the end of that book, I was salivating for more, eager to learn what happens to the main character, Oscar Britton. Well, lo and behold, the fine folks over at Ace answered my prayers and saw fit to grace me with an ARC of Cole’s next book in the series, SHADOW OPS: FORTRESS FRONTIER. I have to state up front that this book will blow you away, even more so than its predecessor.
If you are not familiar with SHADOW OPS: FORTRESS FRONTIER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the press release:
The Great Re-awakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers — summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight, the rules changed…but not for everyone.
Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown out onto the front-lines. Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier. Now, he must find the will to to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the hope of salvation lies in teaming up with Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…
Man, Myke Cole knows how to entertain with his writing!! I tore through this book in about four days, and that’s saying quite a bit since I’m usually pinched for any kind of time. Just as he did with the first book, Cole weaves an intricate and spellbinding tale of military action and the mayhem that magic can throw into it.
Also as before, Cole writes with smooth-flowing yet action-oriented prose that blasts the reader straight into the book itself. I particularly enjoy how he does not waste time on overly saturated sentences that do little to advance the story; instead, he writes with crisp, concise precision and nails his narrative with sniper-like accuracy.
With FORTRESS FRONTIER, Cole is able to do do something that many authors try to accomplish but fail: he introduces a new main character into an already existing storyline, and then integrates the new main character flawlessly with the previous one! I’ve seen this tried a few times in other books prior to reading this one, and most of those authors failed. But Cole pulls the integration off with ease, adding to an already rich and diverse character cast.
The new character, Alan Bookbinder, is the true portrait of a hero…a man that starts off as the reluctant protagonist, but who eventually grows into and accepts his role and where he fits. I do not want to say too much because you must read this book to understand, but I am extremely pleased with how Bookbinder fits into this universe.
The magic in the series remains tight, with non-standard attributes, and even more focus is put on its military applications this time. But in addition to the magic, Cole gives us an even bigger view of his world-building; much more time is spent in the Source, and we even get to “meet” a few new races.
I love how the book ends, but I’m already frothing at the mouth to read the third one! Cole does a monumental job of building tension, and there’s plenty of it in this book. SHADOW OPS: FORTRESS FRONTIER is not due out until the end of January so make yourself a note to grab it when it comes out. In the meantime, if you are not familiar with the series, snatch up the first book and join the squad; if you’re already a fan, revisit the first book and get reacquainted. Either way, you’ll be glad you did.