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Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier Mass Market Paperback – January 29, 2013
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“Black Hawk Down meets The X-Men.” —Peter V. Brett, international bestselling author of The Desert Spear
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“Very entertaining…The Magic 8 Ball says ‘will enjoy.’”—Mark Lawrence, author of King of Thorns
“Hands down, the best military fantasy I’ve ever read.”—Ann Aguirre, national bestselling author of Endgame
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This book is better in every way. Better build, more believable, better characters. It's very nice to see an author progressing that much, I can't wait for the 3rd one.
When Colonel Bookbinder manifests, he doesn't run like Oscar Britton. He submits to testing and is shipped off to Forward Operating Base Frontier in the Source. Even though he's a Colonel, due to his lack of combat experience, Bookbinder is seen only as a logistics/supply officer--a rubber stamp for Frontier's commanding officer. Until Oscar Britton escapes, that is. Frontier is cut off from the home plane and under attack. Supplies are dwindling, the situation is dire, and Bookbinder is now in charge.
Bookbinder must lead a small team of operators across hostile territory to connect with the Kingdom of the Naga, a multi-headed snake-like race that have a relationship with India's military. Bookbinder must negotiate for resupply--and for the very survival of Frontier--but what price will the Naga demand? Not only must Bookbinder learn how to lead, but he must also learn how to handle a new school of magic the world has never seen before.
But Oscar Britton doesn't disappear from the story entirely. Cole devotes a few chapters to Britton and his small band of rebels. All alone in the world, they must decide how to exist as wanted fugitives, whom they can trust, and how to handle the consequences of their escape. It's also an opportunity for Cole to highlight another magical resistance group within the U.S.
Switching to another protagonist is a risky move, but it pays off. Cole skillfully uses only a few scenes to quickly paint a richly detailed portrait of Bookbinder and the many ways he is different from Oscar Britton. Although Bookbinder is a full-bird Colonel, the fact that Bookbinder spends his days behind a desk makes him more sympathetic to sedentary readers such as myself. I was already on his side. I wanted to know what happens when someone like that gets superpowers, and I watched his transformation and growth with that much more interest.
As a whole, I found Fortress Frontier to be far more complex and expansive than Control Point. Cole reveals that FOB Frontier is not the only game in town. Other countries have established a presence in the Source, each with different relationships with the indigenous populations.
Moreover, the U.S. Government's control of its magical citizens is revealed to be somewhat tenuous, as is its understanding of magic itself. Cole reveals that this is still a fairly new, and highly dynamic, situation, and the Government doesn't always respond as we might it hope it would. The cracks in the system are becoming more apparent, and I can't wait to see if the system crumbles.
Fortress Frontier is a fast-paced adventure that doesn't lack for substance. Cole draws readers deeper into his imaginative and complex world with each book in the series. While telling compelling stories, he also sets the table for bigger and better things to come. I'd be amazed to hear Hollywood hasn't come knocking.
Bottom line? I read Fortress Frontier while on a flight to visit family, and it's probably the first time I've hoped for a delay so I wouldn't have to put it down. And from what I've heard about the third book, Breach Zone, I can't wait to find out what happens next.
People are able to control the elements, wield magic, resurrect the dead, and even create doorways, or portals to other worlds. Unsurprisingly, the United States government's response to this is `we will be taking control' because to them, "magic is the new nuke." The even give it a name: "Latent." Anybody who realizes that they have these abilities is required to fess up, otherwise they can be prosecuted as "Selfers." It's a bit like the idea of mutants in the X-Men comics, and works well, especially considering the implications. Even the pull quote on the book proclaims that the book is a combination of Black Hawk Down and X-Men, so it's easy to see the similarities.
The second book finds readers with a different protagonist. Instead of sticking with the same character throughout a series, Cole has done something different, and jumps into the world of Colonel Alan Bookbinder, who is basically a bureaucrat. His biggest concerns are whether the right forms got filed, and if he has enough coffee in the morning. He isn't a warrior, and feels out of place among soldiers who've seen combat. But all of that changes when Bookbinder finds out that he's Latent. This means an end to a pretty cushy life, and he has to figure out how he's going to adjust to his change in circumstances.
On the one hand, Bookbinder, whose name is very appropriate, of course - doesn't know what to do in combat with any confidence, is fairly uncertain about how he fits into this new role, but on the other, he's also somebody who had settled into himself, and it's interesting to see how he adjusts.
This book does tie into the previous one, and there are some events that are revisited, but from a new perspective. The author's increased confidence shows in Fortress Frontier, and the plotting is tight and well thought out. However; this is not a series with a lot of female characters, and there's more focus on their appearance than any character development or involvement in the plot. While this book offers a lot in the way of world building and interesting abilities, it isn't a book friendly to women, and the entire world seems to be built without them being equal members of society. With that being said, if the author is able to overcome this, the series will be the better for it.
(Reviewed for A Book Obsession)