ARC Review - Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

Shadow Ops: Control Point
Debut Novel / First in Shadow Ops Series

Print /Kindle
Author: Myke Cole
Publisher: ACE
ISBN-10: 1937007243
Release Date: Jan. 31, 2012 
Author's Website

Official Tag Line:  Army Officer, Fugitive Sorcerer

This is a debut novel in a Military Fantasy series called Shadow Ops.  Currently the author has 2 additional books under contract in this series. Second book expected Jan 2013.

Back Cover - In my opinion

Magic has arrived and humanity doesn't know exactly what to do. The government does - surrender yourself to its ranks and you may live or run for freedom and they will hunt you down like a criminal.  

Oscar Britton, army lieutenant in the Supernatural Operations Corps (SOC), has the duty of tracking down and apprehending those that wield magic outside the strict government laws.  Left to their own devices manifested humans will create death, destruction and chaos.  SOC's job is to track down those rogues and take them out.  It's their duty. Order is needed and Oscar Britton understands his duty to help maintain that order.  Or does he? 

A mission that makes him question the laws he upholds sets him on path of discovery.   Oscar learns the hard way that you can't control what magic comes to you - when he manifests a prohibited talent that makes him a fugitive but also a rare commodity in this new world.  Oscar's world is about to be blown wide open - who are his friends and where does his loyalty lie?  He is in the fight for his life and on a journey of a lifetime.  He will see that every story has two sides...which side is his?

My Thoughts

This book was a surprise to me on many levels.  I will say I went into it with some pre-conceived expectations that quite honestly were blown away.  

First I thought that being a debut novel for a series I was going to be forced to receive an info dump of information on word building.  This however wasn't the case.  Myke Cole (Cole) does an excellent job of interwinning the world building within the development of the story.   He also has a neat little trick that I quite honestly think more authors should implement.  Cole began each chapter with a little 'news reel' / 'quote' / or 'blurb' that actually had baring on the world he developed. 
 ... that's crap!  What choice do you have really if you don't want to join the army?  Life as a Suppressed Marine is scarcely better than a prison inmate... (Chapter II)
This allowed for a focused bit of information that expanded your knowledge of the world, the ideology and hinted at what the next chapter would bring.  I really liked this technique and I think more authors should use it as efficiently as Cole did.  I will admit I found myself wanting to sneak peeks ahead to read them.  I did, however, resist just barely. 

Second, I thought Military Fantasy - would I get bogged down with the military terminology.  I've read military sci-fi such as the David Webber's Honor Harrington series and sometimes I will say the military speak gets to me.  I didn't need to worry at all here.  Sure over 95% of the story takes place on a military base and our main character is 100% military, but its integration is so  fluid you don't even think about it.  
...while all Coven Four must develop hand-to-hand combat skills, your training plan calls for particular expertise in Modern Army Combative systems, which we will no refer to as MAC...(Chapter XV)
It is evident that Cole comes from a military background by the ease in which he writes this aspect of the story as it seems genuinely natural.  Don't worry if you can't remember the acronyms, there is a handy reference in the back. I swear I didn't use it.     

Third, I worried about military mixed with magic could it be done and would I believe it.  My immediate answer is yes! It was done and done very well.  Right from the get go the reader is witness to magic and military - soliders wielding magic.  

...Harlequin (Captain Thorsson) extended a hand, and a gale swept into it (blowing swirl of dust), its shape blurring as it was blown apart, scattering dozens of bullet casings... (Chapter I)
Magic is already a part of this world -  it is regulated by the military and it's their weapon.  Cole does a great job of combining the two on a outward level as well as an emotional level as you see the main protagonist Oscar struggle with his effort to combine the military man he is with the magic that he has become. 

... But he was also overwhelmed with a sense of joy.  He had done it.  He had used his magic to save people's lives.  He had controlled to the point where it did good. ... Time to stop fighting it. (Chapter XXII)  

My only really gripe with Control Point was the overall feeling of being rushed at some key points.  Okay rush isn't the right word...more like left out.  I think that this book was filled with so much action and information that Cole took a speedier approach on some key scenes.  I would have liked maybe a little more lead in or a tighter resolution before moving on to give a bit more clarity.  I won't elaborate much on this because to do so I would spoil the story for the rest of you.  It was not a really big problem for me and didn't really hinder my enjoyment of the story. I just felt that in some cases a little more would make it smoother.

My Opinion - may contain spoiler bits

I found this book to be an exceptional read.  The overall concept of the book was very intriguing and the fact that a good deal of it took place in a magical kingdom played to my fantasy side very well.  I didn't for once think - this can't happen - witches in the army.  I actually believe that Cole did an excellent job of showing us what most likely will occur if people truly started manifesting magic in the world today.  Government lock down.

As for my issues with Control Point,  they mostly stem for character action and emotional growth.  There were a couple of times that I felt key plot points jumped too quickly head not addressing important elements of the scene /story.  Without spoiling too much - my two main points for this are the situation with Oscar's father and the emotional ramifications that should have affected Oscar and the choice he makes with Scylla. I felt the Scylla choice was a little out of character for him - slightly irrational and I questioned his actions.

Shadow Ops: Control Point gets: 

4 Moons
(Perfect but the story isn't finished yet)
Overall this book was excellent.  Well established plot, logical timeline and developed characters that you can connect with on some level.  This book will appeal to a broader audience than the typical Military Fantasy fans because it has a bit of everything - war, magic, mythical creatures, new worlds, military tactics, real tangible hero's and romance.  For those romance readers out there, I say pick this book up and give it a try. While the romance is a small part of the overall story it is very much there and slowly building - you won't be disappointed.  Did I also mention the bad boy anti-hero Harlequin.  I am actively petitioning for Team Harlequin t-shirts.

Kudos to Myke Cole - he has an excellent beginning to a wonderful and hopefully long series. 

Disclaimer:  This was an ARC received at NYCC 2011 author signing.  I have also had the pleasure of meeting the author as well as interviewing him.  Check back on Monday for the interview and contest.  My views are my opinions and are as objective as possible.