Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings writes a review of Myke Cole’s wonderful Control Point, the first novel in the military-fantasy series entitled Shadow Ops. The US edition was published by Ace in January 2012, whilst the UK edition (featured) is published in August.
“Wow. A fast-paced, adrenaline-thrilled, page-turning debut. Myke Cole has delivered one of the most interesting first novels of 2012, and I cannot wait for the rest of the series.” ~The Founding Fields
I’ve been wanting to read Control Point by Myke Cole ever since I heard about it at the beginning of the year. It made one of my most anticipated debuts for 2012, and I was annoyed when it was pushed back to August for a UK release. However, when I received a copy through twitter, It wouldn’t be long before I started reading, and as it turned out, I’m glad I did. Control Point is military-fantasy at its best, and is one of the better first novels of 2012 – one that should not be missed.
All over the world people are ‘coming up latent’ – developing new and terrifying abilities. Untrained and panicked, they are summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze.
US Army Lieutenant Oscar Britton has always done his duty, even when it means working alongside the feared Supernatural Operations Corps, hunting down and taking out those with newfound magical talents. But when he manifests a rare, startling power of his own and finds himself a marked man, all bets are off.
On the run from his former colleagues, Britton is driven into an underground shadow world, where he is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known … and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.
I was completly blown away by Control Point, I had high expectations going into this novel as a result of the praising reviews that it received when it hit the USA, but those expectations were beaten when I read Control Point. I just loved every second of it, and couldn’t put it down. I only had one issue with Control Point, but apart from that, everything scored top marks for me.
Oscar Britton is an interesting character to work with. Whilst Cole could have given the character some cooler magical talent like control of the elements, he instead decides to stick him with Portomancy. If you thought that was a dull, boring power, think again – the action scenes, particularly when Britton masters his powers, are intense, awesome and easily some of my favourite scenes in the novel, and I can’t wait to see more of this power being used, it was really interesting to read, and I can imagine this being part of a very enjoyable movie. When you combine the use of the magical ability with Cole’s amazingly well-written action-scenes, you know you’re in for something special here. I was blown away by how well Cole manages to write action scenes, and these were some of the highlights of this novel for me.
The pace is fast, brutal and relentless all the way through – once you go into Control Point, you won’t be able to put it down. It also helps that Myke Cole has served in the army, so you get an accurate description of many military aspects, and this adds to the realism of the novel, even if it’s urban fantasy. Or rather, I should say, military fantasy. Guns and Sorcery is what we’re dealing with here, and as far as I’m aware, Cole is the only author that I’ve read that has used combined the military aspect of the modern-day world with the urban fantasy element, and if there are any other military-fantasy novels as good as this one, I’m going to have to give them a look into. Similarities can be drawn with the X-Men universe in the division between magicals/mutants and the normal humans, and it’s interesting to see Cole’s take on it.
One of the many strong points that Myke Cole’s novel offers us is its world-creation. The setting is essentially our world, but with added magic. You get a realistic look as to how the government would react to something like this, as well as a brief insight as to how other countries also reacted to magic, and it’s a nice touch to see that not all react in the same way. There’s little information dumps in Control Point, and this allows the novel to maintain it’s breakneck pace, and yet – you still won’t find yourself lost at all.
The only real issue that I had with Control Point was that I found the book to be lacking in the development of characters, but don’t let that issue put you off. The rest of the novel is written brilliantly well, and the next book, Fortress Frontier, is going to be on my list of highly-anticipated novels for next year after this resounding debut novel. The premise is likely to draw many people in, and Peter V. Brett, author of The Painted Man and The Demon Spear, pretty much summed it up as X-Men meets Black Hawk Down. That is essentially what Control Point is, and Cole has succeeded in creating a fascinating novel that I hope many readers will enjoy as much as I did.
You can find Djinn24’s review of Control Point here, where the quote (our first) is featured in the front cover of the UK edition.