Review: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole (and a #giveaway)

Today, I’m welcoming guest reviewer Alex Shepherd, who’s sharing a review of Fortress Frontier, by Myke Cole, which was released by Ace in January. This is Myke’s second novel in his Shadow Ops series, following 2012’s Control Point, which I thought was terrific. I’m anxious to dig into this one; it’s been in my TBR Mount Everest since it came out. I find Myke’s books particularly intense and believable because, unlike myself, who writes about a special forces team in Storm Force based on pure research, Myke has lived it with his own military training and experience, including three tours of duty in Iraq. [And thanks to Galena, who steered reviewer Alex Shepherd my way on Twitter!]
There’s also a giveaway of your choice of books in this terrific series at the end of the review, so read on
ABOUT FORTRESS FRONTIER:  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…

Review of Fortress Frontier (Shadow Ops #2) by Myke Cole

*Guest review by Alex Shepherd*

You know how some authors suffer from second book syndrome, where the sequel doesn’t quite live up to the first? I’m sure you can think of multiple examples without much thought.

Well, there are no such problems here. Fortress Frontier picks up where Control Point left off and runs with it, broadening the scope and impact of magic, and what it means to the world. Control Point, by its very nature of taking place almost solely on a different plane of existence, was narrow in its vision. Frontier runs the gamut of ranks and public opinions, all the way to the White House and into different countries and cultures. Cole has clearly planned the pacing and structure of his series well.

We’re treated to a new point of view in this book as well. Colonel Alan Bookbinder is our guide for the majority of the book, and what a character he is. A paper pusher from the Pentagon, Bookbinder is forced into situations beyond his experience and far out of the reaches of his comfort zone. His character arc is great, and he’s easily leapt into my top two or three characters I’ve read this year. In Control Point I felt that Cole’s characters flip-flopped emotionally too much, and went from one extreme to the other too often, but the way Bookbinder is handled and the way Oscar Britton is portrayed is a testament to the growth and hard work of a very talented author.

With one notable exception, we don’t get to see much more of what magic is capable of. I was hoping

Myke Cole

to see some new, exciting schools of magic explode onto the scene and spice things up even more. We do get to see some new creatures play prominent roles and we examine some old foes a bit closer, so hopefully new magic is coming in the later books.

The plot is tight and fast, but I never felt rushed. The characters are put into one sticky situation after another and despite the various monsters and mischief they have to face I found their reactions believable and consistent. Some of the supporting cast were very well realised and played their parts perfectly. There was a lack of any real twist in the plot, but there were enough little turns and feints to keep the reader interested. I don’t think the story suffered for this, interestingly, as what was there was riveting. This was very much a character-driven plot, with the morales of each of them leading the way.

I should also mention the worldbuilding. Cole continues to use the small paragraph at the start of each chapter to show the way the world is coping with the magic. This was done really well in Control Point  and it is done equally well in Frontier.We get to see viewpoints from different cultures, other countries military and many others as well. It’s a simple, yet very effective, way of showing us the wider world, without wasting time with exposition.

With Fortress Frontier, Cole has continued a very unique and engaging series and has shown growth and depth as an author. I liked Control Point,  but I loved Fortress Frontier.
Thanks, Alex!
About the reviewer: Alex Shepherd can be found in the rolling hills of Oxfordshire, splitting his time unevenly between fighting crime and raising two little boys (which is remarkably similar). When he does find a spare moment he crams it full of fantasy or basketball, and due to rapidly aging knees it’s mostly fantasy these days. He’s trying to learn the writing craft through sheer bloody-mindedness and dreams of the day he has to do nothing else. If you’re so inclined, you can watch him stalk writers on Twitter. He also reviews books for Wilder’s Book Review and Fantasy Faction

To win: Leave a comment to win either book in Myke Cole’s series. Have you read a military-driven UF? I love the combination of special ops and magic. I mean, seriously! I’d like to know if there are others. 

Interested in doing a guest review for Preternatura and telling us about a book you love (it doesn’t have to be a new release)? Email meand let me know. Reviews should be in a speculative fiction genre, and will include a bio and a link back to your website or blog. I’m currently booking guest posts and reviews between November 1 and the end of the year.

9 thoughts on “Review: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole (and a #giveaway)

  1. The closest I’ve come to this would be some of L.E. Modesitt’s The Magic Engineer. I haven’t read this series yet but would like to try the first book.

  2. I know that I have but for the life of me cant think of any at the moment. I’ve been wanting to read this series so thanks for the chance! 🙂

  3. I have not read any military-driven UF, but this series sounds interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. The Ghost walker series by Christine Feehan might be considered military UF. I really like the Kris Longknife series by Mike Shephard and the Honor Harrington series by David Weber, but they are more military SF. Definitely will add this series to my TBR pile.

  5. I’ve not read any books with a military focus but I have read and enjoyed apocalypse stories. Would this 2nd book make more sense if you’ve read #1?

  6. apart Storm Force no i haven’t read any mix of special ops and magic but i think i would love it so thank you for this discovery!

  7. I haven’t read them, but J.D. Tyler writes a series called Alpha Pack that is about a werewolf pack that are (or were) Navy SEALs. Now that I’m looking at it again, I may just have to buy the first one and give it a try LOL.

  8. I have never read anything like this, but would love to.
    It sounds very interesting.

    Carolyn Valdez