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In a world that is much like our own, with governments that have agendas that no one knows about, there are soldiers that train for missions to hone skills of which the normal average Joe would be deathly afraid.
Author Myke Cole has varied expertise in both the military and law enforcement, and his writing reflects, not only the positive experiences, but also the negative ones of the real fighting world. This is an amazing, fun, and engaging novel and is in stores now. There is sure to be more from this new author.
The magic aspect of the book is a perfect foil for which Myke Cole creates the world of Oscar Britton. Conjuring images of movies such as ‘Avatar’, ‘X-Men’, ‘Black Hawk Down’, and ‘The Matrix’, ‘Shadow Ops: Control Point’ pulls fans in, keeping them guessing at times and at other times, cheering on Oscar’s successes. Lamenting Oscar’s failures are short-lived, as the book is always plugging along at a brisk pace, moving events forward through timelines and dimensions.
Latent, probe, selfer. These are some of the first terms with which readers of ‘Shadow Ops: Control Point’ will become intimately familiar throughout the book. ‘Latent’ is the term for people with the ability and control to do their manifested school of magic. Likewise, a ‘selfer’ is a rogue, or out-of-control, magic user that focuses on any of the 11 schools of magic.
Appropriately sandwiched between these two concepts is a subsection of the ‘selfer’ label which is ‘probe’, a magic user that wields one of the four prohibited schools of magic within the eleven total schools.
The Supernatural Operations Corps, (SOC), is a place where training takes place in all 11 schools of magic, despite the legal standing of certain magic schools within the U.S. population. The permissible schools chiefly deal with Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and the physical body, the latter of which deals with healing, called a physiomancer.
The two restricted practiced schools are Animal Whispering and Offensive Physiomancy, that is, not healing, but instead destroying a body.¬†The four prohibited schools are classified as such because they are generally considered dark or rare powers to possess that are even more valuable and disturbing than the first seven schools of magic.
Black magic, death magic, gate magic, and semi-sentient elemental conjuration are the four prohibited schools of magic. Oscar becomes a master of gate magic, called portamancy, to which its combat ability can be referred to hilariously as ‘gate-fu’, the front line fighting potential limited only by the user’s control of the magic itself. As he trains, he joins Umbra Coven, the elite magic group the is behind all of the other magic users.
Status as a selfer usually results in death as the SOC hunts you down, probes even more so, though the SOC does also capture magic users alive and gives them a chance to be indoctrinated into the SOC and serve their country combating selfers and probes. This is an ironic and somewhat venomous twist that combines magical servitude and prison-sentencing as a person manifests magic.
Chock-full of concepts that will thrill any science fiction and fantasy fan, as well as some military jargon, ‘Shadow Ops’ details the life of Oscar Britton as he goes on his journey to first discovering, and then later mastering, control of his latent probe powers. An army man himself, Oscar is the type of character that is very relatable.
He is angry at injustice when he sees it, he is prideful of great accomplishments when he earns them, and he is regretful for more than his fair share of near-death experiences.¬†Rave reviews from readers are justified in their praise of Myke Cole’s first work as this page-turning thriller takes readers on a journey into the mind of a man ridden, not only with guilt and anger, but with a fierce moral code.
Readers will go right along with him on his ethical journey as Oscar comes to grips with the changes in his life, even as he struggles to stay the same person. Find out Oscar’s fear at his first manifestation of magic and struggle just as Oscar does, as he dances all over the fine line between strict military training and smart-alecky heroism.
Oscar knew what life had in store for him after being captured using a prohibited school of magic, chaining him down to be another tool of a government that he has come to despise. He still rebels against that injustice and sticks to his code of ethics. While not beyond reproach, the events that take place in ‘Shadow Ops’ can easily take place in our world, showing us how different, and yet similar, Oscar Britton’s reality is from our own.
One arguable fault in an otherwise excellent book is that while there are a few lessons to take away from Oscar’s journey, chiefly that you should be true to yourself and your own moral code, there is not a life lesson that can be felt throughout the book that is the focal point of the entire story.
Oscar wants his freedom, to live the life that he chooses, but his tale has hopefully not ended yet, with revolution on the rise as a result of his actions. That can be said to be the focal point of the story, but does not feel quite as cohesive as it could have been.
Another arguable fault is that the secondary characters, while vibrant, seem forced. The duty a military officer has to his government is strong, but the bond he has to his squad is even stronger. This concept is diluted in ‘Shadow Ops’, leading to unexpected betrayals that make sense, but do not really create a great deal of emotion. Another secondary character changes so quickly overnight that the level of fear and hate turning into adoration and fanaticism seems improbable.
Still, readers will become fans of Myke Cole’s writing. There is an ease of reading that many will welcome and an approachable style that many will love. There is nothing boring about a book where military meets magic, and while the concept is not new, Myke Cole’s take on it is refreshing and much needed in a genre that is beginning to overlap itself with similar concepts.
There is much work that needs to be done for the next book in the ‘Shadow Ops’ series, entitled ‘Fortress Frontier’.¬†Often times, the books that are published within a given era are a reflection of the real world during that time period.
In a world that is increasingly rebellious against governments that abuse policy and remove rights, ‘Shadow Ops: Control Point’ hits the nail on the head and gives readers a dose of what they want from their fiction. Escape into the world of Oscar Britton for a few days, and watch as his path unfolds before your very eyes.
For all its limited number of faults, the story of Oscar Britton is one that fans eagerly follow, with many readers waiting for the next book to arrive. Hopefully, ‘Fortress Frontier’ will continue to showcase Myke Cole’s evolving talent as a writer of fiction since the few faults that ‘Control Point’ has can be easily fixed in the second book. An excellent debut from a novice writer, this is a series on the rise, so watch out sci-fi/fantasy fans, this one will grab your attention.
Image Courtesy of ¬†http://www.flickr.com/photos/23974478@N07/