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!


By Eric Christensen

Like many lawyers, Eric Christensen no longer practices. Instead, he works as a writer and editor. Hooked on speculative fiction from an early age thanks to nerdy parents, he writes for fun when not writing for clients. Otherwise, he’s reading, running, or watching movies in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife, Laura, and his dog, Blue. You can find him on twitter at @erchristensen or online at eric-christensen.com

9 thoughts on “Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole”
  1. Great review. I’m about halfway done with it myself and totally agree so far.

    PS: Your link to Breach Zone is broken. 🙂

  2. I was not sure if I wanted to read this book because of the impression Control Point left me. On one hand, Cole’s writing was exceptional. On the other hand, I could not stand Britton, and I was really pissed off with him for the largest part of the book. By the time I finished CP, I thought that it could have been a great book if the main character hadn’t been so insufferable.

    But now, reading this review and seeing that this Colonel Bookbinder is a totally different type of character, I think I will have to give it a chance. I hope this time Cole nails it, because undoubtly he has the potential.

    1. Can I ask why you didn’t like Britton? I got a little frustrated with him too because of his indecision and wavering. Bookbinder is very different. He makes decisions and follows through. However, his circumstances are unlike Britton’s.

      Realizing that, I started to see Britton in another (and more sympathetic) light. If that doesn’t happen for you, though, at least Britton’s presence in Fortress Frontier is only a couple chapters long.

      I really enjoyed Control Point (perhaps more than you did), but Fortress Frontier is a much better, richer book, and evidence that Cole’s talent continues to grow.

      1. Hello Eric! Of course, I will be glad to try to explain myself… Excuse my English if it’s not very smooth (I’m Spanish), and… other readers beware, this message could contain SPOILERS.

        I did not like Britton because I think he is a quite inconsistent character. Ok, from the first chapter it is obvious that he doesn’t like SOC. But through all the book he seems to have a very serious problem with authority… Which is not very logical, since he was formerly a soldier.

        And of course, there’s the point you mention about indecision. Seriously, Britton has serious psychological problems. One moment he is ecstatic because he is able of opening a controlled gate, half a paragraph later he is willing to kill every single soul at FOB because his superior called him asshole. He goes from one extreme to the other in so little time that it is impossible to empathize with him in any of the two alternatives. And the worst of all is that all that emotional management issues and egocentrism (because in the end it’s what it is, he is just thinking about himself while the rest of the peope is merely circumstancial) causes severe damages to everybody around him, even to those who love and/or appreciate him, and a LOT of dead people.

        Definitely, not the type of character I am not inclined to emotionally bond with.

  3. […] Fantasy Faction clearly hated FORTRESS FRONTIER – their reviewer only gave the book a measley ten out of ten! The reviewer said of the author, ‘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… I can’t wait to find out what happens next.’ […]

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