Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
|Book Name:||Fortress Frontier|
|Publisher(s):||Ace (US) / Headline (UK)|
|Formatt:||Paperback / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Military Fantasy / Urban Fantasy|
|Release Date:||January 29, 2013 (US) / January 31, 2013 (UK)|
Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers for Control Point. If you have yet to read the first book please read with caution.
Control Point, the first book in the Shadow Ops series, opened with Oscar Britton going on a military raid. The sequel, Fortress Frontier, opens with Colonel Alan Bookbinder heading to his desk job while reminding himself to pick up his daughter’s favorite cereal on the way home. Right off the bat, I knew I was dealing with a very different hero, and that Fortress Frontier was going to be a very different book. Whereas Control Point was the story of Oscar Britton deciding whether to accept or rebel against the system his government had built around the return of magic, Fortress Frontier is the story of how fragile that system is and how badly it needs leaders to protect it.
When Colonel Bookbinder manifests, he doesn’t run like Oscar Britton. He submits to testing and is shipped off to Forward Operating Base Frontier in the Source. Even though he’s a Colonel, due to his lack of combat experience, Bookbinder is seen only as a logistics/supply officer—a rubber stamp for Frontier’s commanding officer. Until Oscar Britton escapes, that is. Frontier is cut off from the home plane and under attack. Supplies are dwindling, the situation is dire, and Bookbinder is now in charge.
Bookbinder must lead a small team of operators across hostile territory to connect with the Kingdom of the Naga, a multi-headed snake-like race that have a relationship with India’s military. Bookbinder must negotiate for resupply—and for the very survival of Frontier—but what price will the Naga demand? Not only must Bookbinder learn how to lead, but he must also learn how to handle a new school of magic the world has never seen before.
But Oscar Britton doesn’t disappear from the story entirely. Cole devotes a few chapters to Britton and his small band of rebels. All alone in the world, they must decide how to exist as wanted fugitives, whom they can trust, and how to handle the consequences of their escape. It’s also an opportunity for Cole to highlight another magical resistance group within the U.S.
Switching to another protagonist is a risky move, but it pays off. Cole skillfully uses only a few scenes to quickly paint a richly detailed portrait of Bookbinder and the many ways he is different from Oscar Britton. Although Bookbinder is a full-bird Colonel, the fact that Bookbinder spends his days behind a desk makes him more sympathetic to sedentary readers such as myself. I was already on his side. I wanted to know what happens when someone like that gets superpowers, and I watched his transformation and growth with that much more interest.
As a whole, I found Fortress Frontier to be far more complex and expansive than Control Point. Cole reveals that FOB Frontier is not the only game in town. Other countries have established a presence in the Source, each with different relationships with the indigenous populations.
Moreover, the U.S. Government’s control of its magical citizens is revealed to be somewhat tenuous, as is its understanding of magic itself. Cole reveals that this is still a fairly new, and highly dynamic, situation, and the Government doesn’t always respond as we might it hope it would. The cracks in the system are becoming more apparent, and I can’t wait to see if the system crumbles.
Fortress Frontier is a fast-paced adventure that doesn’t lack for substance. Cole draws readers deeper into his imaginative and complex world with each book in the series. While telling compelling stories, he also sets the table for bigger and better things to come. I’d be amazed to hear Hollywood hasn’t come knocking.
Bottom line? I read Fortress Frontier while on a flight to visit family, and it’s probably the first time I’ve hoped for a delay so I wouldn’t have to put it down. And from what I’ve heard about the third book, Breach Zone, I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
In honor of Myke Cole’s UK release of Fortress Frontier, we are giving away three signed copies of his first book, Control Point! Click here to see how you can win a copy!