Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

Fortress Frontier

Bane of Kings writes a review of the second novel in the Shadow Ops series by Myke Cole, Fortress Frontier, published in the UK by Headline Books and in the USA by Ace. 

“An awesome second novel proves that Myke Cole is more than just a one-hit wonder. Expect Fortress Frontier to be one of the best novels of 2013.” ~The Founding Fields

I loved reading Fortress Frontier. The first book in the series, Control Point, was good – it made it onto my Best of 2012 list after all. But Fortress Frontier is better, and I can stress that if you’re not reading Myke Cole at the moment then I highly suggest that you drop whatever you’re reading right now and go out and buy a copy of Control Point if you haven’t read it already and read that. And then come back and read this review. Trust me, you won’t regret it. If the words X-Men meets Black Hawk Down hook you at all then you shouldn’t need further convincing. But if you’re reading this review and liked the first book, then you’ve probably not only brought the second book already but have probably already read it. But there was no way I was going to pass the chance to review this book up – particularly because at this rate, it may turn out to be one of my favourite novels of 2013, even if we are only in February.

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers–summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world,Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier–cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place — Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…

Fortress Frontier introduces us to a new character as Cole decides to split the narrative between Alan Bookbinder and Oscar Britton. I liked this approach as it not only gave us a chance to read about magic from a different perspective, but also explore more of this wonderfully built world. I couldn’t help but notice how much different Bookbinder is to Britton, and it was really interesting reading this book and comparing the characters as they go on. Whilst this book doesn’t exactly start immediately after the events of Control Point, it takes us back to the latter section of the events in the first book it examines them in a new light, and really gives a different perspective to characters who we were limited to seeing from Britton’s perspective in Control Point. 

Fortress FrontierThis is one of the fastest paced stories that I’ve read recently and Fortress Frontier really is one of those “Just One More Chapter” books. Cole has captured the ability of James Patterson, Suzanne Collins and company when it comes to writing page-turners, but the good thing here is that not only is the Shadow Ops series better than any of the previous authors works so far, it also has a great premise of things to come. When you’re reading a book you can often tell how much effort has gone into the creation and development of the world and this series in particular is no exception. For readers who wanted to see how countries other than America reacted to the Great Awakening then you will get the chance to do so here – for the level of world-building supplied in Fortress Frontier is outstanding. Cultures are explored  here in such a way that the pace never seems to slow down to a crawl.

I’d like to talk about the characters for a moment. Although Oscar Britton does have an important role to play in this book, Alan Bookbinder is a key character here too and the novel itself spends as much time developing him as he discovers his latent abilities as it explores the adventures of Oscar. An interesting comparison to make here is that Bookbinder doesn’t have the training as Oscar – he’s an “army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut,” as the blurb explains. This thus shows us another interesting difference between the two characters and it’s really nice to see their different approaches to certain elements. Like Control Point, Cole has used his military knowledge to great effect, writing some great action scenes and giving a great insight into how the military tick following the Great Awakening. It almost makes me wonder what would have happened to this series if Cole didn’t have a military background – how different would these series be? Would we even have a Shadow Ops series?

The middle book in a trilogy is often very difficult to write and many a trilogy has been let down by its second act – but Fortress Frontier is among the second books that raise the game even further, much like Mark Lawrence’s King of Thorns did last year, and really gives the reader something to look forward to in terms of the final book in the trilogy. Breach Zone is a book I’m going to be doing my best to read as soon as possible – I’ve just got to remember to request it from NetGalley this time. Because this is one of the books that I’ll be eagerly looking forward to read in 2014, and I just wish that I didn’t have to wait that long for the third act.

This book is awesome. Seriously, if you haven’t brought it already, I suggest that you make Fortress Frontier your next book purchase. This is one heck of a whirlwind ride and right now, Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series is quickly becoming the best that military fantasy has to offer. Top notch stuff.

VERDICT: 5/5

A great book by an author at the top of his game. Fortress Frontier is a second installment that ups the ante and allows for a great read. And if you get the UK version, it has a great cover art too.

The Shadow Ops Series: Control Point, Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone (2014),

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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