Friday, March 21, 2014
Book Review- Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
Last week, I promised you three book reviews in three weeks. Here’s my review for book two of the Shadow Ops Trilogy by Myke Cole. I give you:
Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
When Oscar Britton left the For-ward Oper-ating Base Frontier, he did so with a bang. Literally. Now on the run as America's Most Wanted #1, he's left the soldiers in The Source isolated, cut off from the Home Plane, with no communications and no way to resupply.
Colonel Alan Bookbinder is new to the FOB, having proven Latent but without any sign of what his magic is. Still, he's separated from his family and shipped to the FOB not long before Britton's escape, and now he's left in charge of the FOB. With attacks coming more frequently, he needs to find a way to get his people to safety, to resupply, and get himself home. And there's only one way to get back: a Portamancer.
He needs Oscar Britton.
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from mykecole.com
An Officer. An Out-cast. A Fight for Survival.
The Great Reawak-ening did not come qui-etly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop ter-ri-fying powers–summoning storms, raising the dead, and set-ting every-thing they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.
Colonel Alan Book-binder is an army bureau-crat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops mag-ical powers, he is torn from every-thing he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.
Drafted into the Super-nat-ural Oper-a-tions Corps in a new and dan-gerous world, Book-binder finds him-self in com-mand of For-ward Oper-ating Base Frontier–cut off, sur-rounded by mon-sters, and on the brink of being overrun.
Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Fron-tier out of hell, even if the one hope of sal-va-tion lies in teaming up with the man whose own mag-ical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place–Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…
Like it's predecessor, Fortress Frontier is not a particularly far cry from reality. The government is still heavily regulating the use of magic, and when things happen, things happen quickly. When Bookbinder reports in as Latent, he's scooped up and shot off to the FOB so fast it makes your head spin. Like with Control Point, there's a ton of great material here, pure reality in how people would adapt to life in an alternate magical dimension, how they relate to and interact with one another, and it's just all very real and current.
In keeping with the style of Control Point, there's plenty of military jargon, action, and general badassery in Fortress Frontier. He puts his characters into some serious danger, not afraid to really threaten them, and uses every tool at his disposal to get them back out again. This is true craftsmanship. It's always pleasing to me to se a hopeless situation solved with something that's right in front of you. Or inside you, or whatever.
I was infinitely more comfortable with the military jargon, having already had my introductory course in Control Point. There's just enough of this stuff to make the book seem real, but little enough that I didn't get bogged down in it. It's not as easy to flip to the glossary in the back when reading on a kindle as if I were reading a paper book.
We see more of the different races in the Source this time around, expanding wonderfully on the culture and the world Cole has built for himself. We see more than the Goblins and the Mountain Gods this time. Most notably, we explore the Naga, and this made me unbelievably happy. That's one race of fantastical creatures that I have almost never come across in literature-- only video games, and then only barely. To see a race like them fleshed out and playing a nice-sized role in the action made me giddy.
One thing that I need to comment on is how seamlessly he worked the two main plot arcs-- Britton's and Bookbinder's-- alongside one another. Since this novel started with Bookbinder, I would have thought I would immediately miss Britton. I was wrong. He didn't cross my mind until I finally came across a chapter in his story arc. And when I was with Britton, I forgot all about Bookbinder. Normally, in situations like this, I just want to follow the arc of my favorite character. I won't lie-- I like Bookbinder better than Britton (not by much, but I do) so I was completely fascinated with his arc. But when I was reading Britton, that was good stuff, too, and it enthralled me completely. This is no mean feat, balancing things like this.
Like with the previous book, there was an inconsistency with chapter length in Fortress Frontier, but it didn't bother me as much. I don't know if that was because I'd come to expect it from the previous book, if the issue was less pronounced this time around (I don't think it was), or if I was just too engrossed in the action to care (much more likely).
I've read a lot of trilogies and series...es, and it's a general rule that the second book is, at least in my haughty opinion, the least engaging of the series, no matter the length. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is my least favorite of the series. I'm not a fan of The Two Towers. Etc. Etc.
I freaking LOVED this book. Cole set the bar for himself pretty high with Control Point. He exceeded it with Fortress Frontier. My jaw dropped at least three times reading this, usually followed by some exclamation of surprise, giddiness, bouncing like a little schoolgirl, and general glee. There were some great surprises here, and it's more than worth the read.
Would I Recommend This Book? Oh my gosh, yes. Very yes. I can't say yes to this enough. There was so much greatness in this book that I can't describe it all. I don't know how Myke Cole did it! I was a little upset early on that I wasn't going to see much of my favorite character from Control Point (Marty), but I was able to immediately latch onto Bookbinder. I would follow that man to hell and back. Twice. I give Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier a first on my blog, a well-earned, salute-warranting 5 out of 5 stars.
For more information on the author, visit mykecole.com
Check things out next week for my review of book 3, Shadow Ops: Breach Zone.