“Write what you know,” is normally the first advice any aspiring author is given. But when you write fantasy books, perhaps it’s not the most practical, as magical abilities do not exist within the real world where wars rage for decades across the globe and fear and hate of the unknown are still common place. If a writer does try to bring fantasy into a present day setting, these realities are, more often than not, ignored for the simplicities of small town dramas that involve dealing with the vampire on your doorstep rather than a super-powered person of mass destruction. If you “write what you know,” then small town life is the point of reference for most of us.

Myke Cole, however, has spent most of his life living in a very different place. Working within a military machine, whether it be with the US armed forces or as an independent contractor, he didn’t start wondering what would happen if a werewolf lived on his block. Instead, he pondered the outcome of a Black Hawk gunship being asked to deal with a fire-breathing dragon. He asked himself how would the military react to people suddenly manifesting magical powers that gave them the ability to fly or control fire. Questions that took him into a fresh, exciting place. Questions that led to the creation of Shadow Ops: Control Point.

2012 JAN Myke Cole Interview (pic)
Control Point is a furious ride on the front line where every action has consequences and people’s lives depend on the decisions one takes. Oscar Britton is a Lieutenant in the Supernatural Operations Corps, a new branch of the military tasked to deal with anyone developing latent supernatural powers. Magic has been allocated to those that are legal and those that are not. Elemental magic, control of earth, wind, fire and water, are sanctioned for use by the military while others, like the ability to control the dead, are outlawed and any latents with such powers are terminated. After a particularly harrowing mission that results in the deaths of two minors, Britton suddenly displays magical abilities of his own. To make matters worse, his latent skill is portamancy, or gate magic, one of the prohibited schools. Not wanting to die and freaked out by his new abilities, Britton does the one thing left to him. He runs.

Headshots of Myke ColeWhen society lives in fear and paranoia, as in the communist witch hunts of the 50’s or the post 911 world, it is all too easy to believe that even someone we have known all our lives can suddenly be a threat to society if the state or the media tells us so. Our concerns for our safety and that of our community or country outweigh any bonds formed through friendship or family as we react to the perceived danger rather than our knowledge of the person. Cole doesn’t shirk from this truth but shows us what it must be like to be the hunted in such a situation, the horror of having everyone turn against you through no real fault of your own. Despite being a respected serving officer, his colleagues immediately turn their guns on him. His family and friends offer him no sanctuary. Now a fugitive, Britton doesn’t want to break the law, he just doesn’t want to die. Matters are not helped by Britton’s lack of control over his new and very lethal abilities that therefore turn him into the very thing everyone already fears he is.

Realism is tightly interwoven throughout Cole’s writing, giving the book such power. This isn’t a book of black and white heroes, it’s the real world where everyone lives in shades of grey, where being right just depends on what side of the fence you are sitting on. One man’s terrorist is, after all, another man’s freedom fighter. Britton and the other characters in the book are just trying to make the best of the hand they have been dealt, often making as many wrong decisions as they do correct ones as they just try to survive. On a superficial level, one could say the US military is the bad guy in Control Point but the reality is that they are just an imperfect organization that’s found itself fighting a war in a world where, once again, the rules have changed and everyone is simply trying to work out what the new rules are.

Control Point isn’t a heavy book though; trying to make any sort of political statement on the world we live in. It’s a non-stop thrill ride that’s almost impossible to put down, written in a wide-screen style that screams summer blockbuster and should have the Michael Bays of this world scrambling for their chequebooks. Peter V. Brett describes it as “Black Hawk Down meets the X-Men,” and that says it all. Bunker down as the fireballs fly with the bullets and enjoy one of 2012’s most exciting debuts.


By Mike Shackle

Mike Shackle is a citizen of the world, having lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, China and New York before returning to his hometown of London where he now resides with his wife, son and a French bulldog called Ribsy. His other constant traveling companions around the globe have been his comic books, his favorite fantasy novels and an army of super-hero statues. He more often than not can be found daydreaming over a cup of tea.

7 thoughts on “Control Point by Myke Cole”
  1. Great review and couldn’t have said it better myself (although I will try when I put my review up next week!!!).

    What I loved about Myke’s book was the realism and the fact that this is a book that can be read and enjoyed by a huge range of people… Fantasy Fans, Military Fans, Sci-Fi Fans, General Readers who want a look into warfare and yet a bit of a twist.

    Fantastic debut and I think Myke Cole adds his name to the list of scarily good debut authors that we’ve had in the last 12 months (Doug Hulick, Mark Lawrence, Elspeth Cooper to name but a few).

  2. Hmm… Just browsing through Amazon yesterday I saw this book and wasn’t sure if I should try it. (Couldn’t find any reviews of it yet.) Though, after reading this, I think I’ll give it a shot! Sounds like military fiction I can actually get into…

    Thanks for covering this one. 🙂

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