Taking place after the cataclysmic events of Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone by Myke Cole reun...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.bookchickcity.com - 4.5 Stars
Taking place after the cataclysmic events of Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone by Myke Cole reunites the characters of the previous novels for a heart-stopping showdown in New York City.
This time around, our protagonist is Colonel Jan Thorsson, aka Harlequin, an Aeromancer in the SOC who played a crucial role in book two. He is drafted in as the commander of New York City’s resistance, as the newly-freed Scylla has finally played her trump card. She has opened a portal in New York City, similar to those created by Oscar Britton, but made using her particular brand of rotting magic. Through this portal she has brought her army of goblins and Gahe, mountain guardians who are immune to human weaponry.
Scylla’s goal is the removal of the McGauer-Linden Act, the government protocol that makes Latent humans who manifest in magical arts subject to capture and discipline. She wants Limbic Dampener, the drug which enables Latents to control their power, to be freely distributed rather than the property of the government, enabling more freedom of choice for magical humans. However, what she also believes is that Latent individuals are above normal humans, becoming a war for supremacy rather than equality.
With Scylla’s Gahe being unaffected by human weapons, Harlequin needs the support of the magical armies and illegal arts to even have a ray of hope. This means fighting the governmental red tape which prohibits the use of such magic, drawing together General Bookbinder and Oscar Britton from the previous novels. Sarah Downer also makes a welcome return, although her character does not feature massively throughout the book despite her usefulness.
Interspersed throughout the book are flashback sequences to six years previous, the time when Scylla and Harlequin first met. These scenes are pivotal in understanding both the corruption of the government, and the emotional reasoning behind Scylla’s actions. I wasn’t expecting to form such a close connection with a character that, up until now, has been solely evil and can only destroy rather than create.
These flashbacks did not impede the pace of the novel in any way, as they provided a welcome respite from the battle as well as being interrelated. I thought the whole book was fast paced and exciting, as if running on an adrenaline high from the battle, and it is easy to overlook the fact that it takes place over the space of only a few days. I hadn’t anticipated that Scylla would take her revenge in such a public way, and it demonstrates the misuse of magic juxtaposed with the good it can do.
I really enjoyed getting into Harlequin’s mind in this book, as he seems to be the most emotionally involved of all the protagonists. When he suffers a loss in the war he really seems to feel it emotionally, caught in the crossfire of what is right and wrong. His own ideals are questioned as the government’s ways are continuously proven to be flawed, and it is only through his thought processes that we can see the glimmer of what could be. I hadn’t anticipated the connection between him and Scylla, and I really thought this added to the emotional ride of the book.
Until this third instalment, we hadn’t seen much of what Scylla’s magic could really do to people, as it is most often used to rot objects and weaponry. The full extent of her power is truly horrific, and I thought Cole captured this perfectly and at just the right moments. Not only is her magic powerful, but she is a great public speaker, and Cole pulls off some truly political speeches throughout the book, and not just from Scylla. The glimpses of her previous life, when she was known as Grace, make you wish for a redemption, but whether this is realised must remain unknown until the final pages.
Overall, Breach Zone combined all of my favourite elements from the previous books, despite wanting to see more of certain characters (such as Britton and Bookbinder). I think Cole has grown over the course of the series, as his action scenes flow with more grace and subtlety than before, forming a perfectly rounded whole. There was just the right balance of action versus discussion, as no element of warfare is overlooked, right down to the last snippet of red tape. I think these books have resonance in real current affairs, despite the magic, making them that much more gripping.
In what proves to be a show-stopping third instalment, Cole doesn’t pull any punches as a full scale war rages in the streets of New York City. The action is at an all-time high, and the emotions of war really come across as the desperation of the forces is at the forefront. What surprised me is that you can even sympathise with Scylla, who until now has been a sadistic antagonist, turning the book into a full-on emotional rollercoaster.(less)