Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Review

Shadow Ops:Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Review

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The Great Reawakening 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 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–cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.
Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place–Oscar Britton, public enemy number one.
….

Myke Cole gives us the sequel to one of the biggest debut successes of 2012 with Control Point. Now he’s back with Fortress Frontier, which brings new characters, schools of magic, and all around depth to the alternate world Cole imagined for his Shadow Ops series. I managed to get my hands on an advance copy and take my word for it, this is not a series you want to miss.

Cole set a breakneck pace with his first book and there were a few worried he wouldn’t be able to match the success his first book gained, but fortunately for us he excelled past expectations and delivered a book that is better in every aspect of the word.

Instead of continuing the story of the renegade Oscar Britton, Cole decides to switch gears and give us a new protagonist to follow. Alan Bookbinder. Contrary to Britton’s experiences as a soldier Bookbinder is a Grade A paper-pusher. More often dealing with paper cuts than bullet wounds. That is, until he manifests as a Latent, the term used to describe magic users in Cole’s parallel world.

Unlike Britton, Bookbinder follows the law and turns himself in to the authorities after confirming he is indeed Latent. This gives us the chance to see how the United States officially deals with Latency and casts a dividing line between Control Point and Fortress Frontier as we see both sides of the military coin. Suffice it to say, I empathize with Britton more after learning what really happens when you willingly hand yourself over to the Supernatural Operations Corps.

Cole wisely gives us a little breathing room to learn about Bookbinder before catching up and continuing with the events of Control Point. Britton’s heroic battle at the F.O.B (Forward Operating Base) and subsequent strikes against the U.S military forces is given new light as we see the true ramifications of his choice to cut the F.O.B and it’s inhabitants off from the human world.

Bookbinder is forced to leave his desk and march across the Source with a small force at his backside, intent on finding salvation for his men who are under attack from hordes of goblins. It’s here Cole’s worldbuilding shines like a beacon as we explore the Source, see new creatures, and most interestingly how a foreign country has handled the discovery of magic and the Source plane. Along the way we discover more of Bookbinder’s new magical abilities, which make him worth more than his weight in gold to certain factions.

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Myke Cole’s skills in writing have matured in leaps and bounds compared to Book 1 and I am looking forward to seeing him round out the Shadow Ops trilogy with the  final novel Breach Zone. I never thought military-fantasy would be something that would interest me but I sit here now eating a big ol’ plate of humble pie. Cole has crafted an imaginative, detailed world that any fan of fantasy would love to escape into. Read Control Point, read Fortress Frontier, and sit on the sidelines as Myke finishes Breach Zone and devour that book as well when it arrives. You will not regret it.

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