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Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military's Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down--and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he's ever known, and that his life isn't the only thing he's fighting for.

382 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Myke Cole

28 books1,730 followers
As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counterterrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. After hunting terrorists and criminals in real life, he kept up the job on TV, first tracking fugitives on CBS’ 2017 show Hunted, and UFOs on Discovery Channel’s 2019 show Contact.

All that conflict can wear a guy out. Thank goodness for fantasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dungeons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 768 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 74 books50.5k followers
November 20, 2017
The was the first Advance Reviewer Copy ever sent to me!
(apart from my own work)

So, I really enjoyed this. On pretty much the first page I was confused by/angry with the main character, Oscar. It could well be my fault. I didn't understand that the young people in the opening scene who were busy killing folk were not actually in control of the magic doing the killing. So I didn't connect with Oscar's sympathy for them.

Oscar continued to annoy me (possibly with more valid reason) throughout the book. That sounds bad, but it isn't. Yes, he didn't choose a line and stick to it. That sounds like most people to me. A degree of inconsistency, especially under extreme pressure, is realism, it's the norm. Cole gives us a real man in extraordinary circumstances - and that's good writing.

When modern fantasy gives us grey and points of view that make both sides look valid ... why can't someone change their mind from time to time?

The mainstay of this book, and it's a very good mainstay, is the exciting magic. It's good old fashioned in your face fun/powerful magic. Stuff gets taken apart. Not for nothing did Peter V Brett call it Xmen meets Black Hawkdown. I suspect it's impossible to blow up so much shit between two covers, in such style, and not have a hit. I would watch it in 3D.

The rapid appearance of powerful magics among the populace leads to some interesting social dynamics, with the military having taken control of proceedings (and why not - these skills are powerful weapons). There are snippets of news/doctrine ahead of chapters that give a nice taste of the impact of these developments on society.

Action moves quite swiftly to a secondary world where it spends most of the book. For the most part the pace is fast and the action exciting. Cole uses his own military experience to provide an authentic feel to the whole thing and show the military/civilian tensions in a sub-populace that has been forcibly inducted into the armed services.

Anyway ... great read. Give it a shot. Cole puts the fun back into fantasy. Not the silly kind of fun, the kind that explodes.

I should also note that this trilogy gets better as it goes. Book one touches 5* with outstretched fingertips for me, book 3 stands on the 5* inviting more.


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Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,255 reviews8,650 followers
February 7, 2018
2/7/18 - ON SALE for $2.99:



http://amzn.to/2ygutUd

Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

Congratulations, Myke Cole. You fried my brain.

I don't know if any of you have been to Oak Ridge during its Secret City Festival, but if you have, you know the rat-a-tat-tat in the background that sounds suspiciously like a machine gun . . . is a machine gun. And the beginning of CONTROL POINT by Myke Cole feels a lot like machine gun report---jarring and erratic.

You hit the ground running with an MC (Oscar Britton) first working for, then fleeing a government that seems to be both the Good Guy and the Bad Guy. It's so action-packed that everything else was overwhelmed by the constant additions to the equation.

And honestly . . . I didn't like Britton.

He's this military guy who bails the second he becomes the hunted instead of the hunter, causing the death of numerous others, and if he had his way, he'd've kept running as the bodies piled up behind him.

Did he mean to cause the deaths of those other men?

No. He didn't.

But that's the difference between murder and manslaughter, and guess what? Both land you in the slammer.

And then the nebulous dual nature of the government rears its ugly head: the government has a monopoly on magic, which I vehemently protest. BUT. Who else has the manpower to hunt down the assholes who rationalize their continued existence over the long lives and safety of others?

*beats conundrum drum* (with my head).

BUT.

It's not. That. Simple.

And when Britton stops running (18%), things calm to a manageable level.

In any other book, I'd hate, loathe, despise and abominate a character like Britton. He's selfish. He makes numerous BIG mistakes. He gives into his anger, lashing out at others instead of keeping a cool head.

But in CONTROL POINT, he's only one of a multitude of grey threads that contribute to the underlying principle that EVERYTHING is grey. There is no black and white. Right and wrong depend on context, not rules and regs. And when the good of ALL is dependent on the training of a single dangerous individual, are a few---or a LOT of---(questionably) innocent lives worth the tempering of one who could (maybe) change the world?

I just don't know.

But in this first installment of his SHADOW OPS series, Myke Cole makes a damn good case for withholding judgement.

I'm not going to lie, it was a frustrating journey. It was hard to not have a Good Guy to cheer for and a Bad Guy to hate. It was hard for the lines to blur back and forth, forth and back. But I really appreciate what Cole has done here (woke my foggy, trapped-in-the-status-quo brain the hell up), and I enthusiastically endorse it.

BUT.

You shouldn't pick it up when you want your standard UF fix. Oh, don't panic, it's a relatively quick and easy read, but if you revel in absolutes, this one will make your head want to explode. In a good way. Probably. If you stick with it. Unless you're rigid and uncompromising, in which case I got nuthin' for you. Highly recommended.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Rachel Neumeier.
Author 40 books473 followers
February 19, 2015
Okay, I am not normally inclined to review books unless I like them. I mean, I don’t much care for negative reviews myself, right? And I hate to make someone else feel bad. And what if I run into the author at a convention sometime? Awkward much?

But there are limits, and this book ticked me off because of its wasted potential. Nothing wrong with the concept or the world, but . . .
Well, suppose you read the following first paragraphs of a novel:

The monitor showed a silent video feed from a high school security camera. On it, a young boy stood in a school auditorium. A long-sleeved black T-shirt covered his skinny chest. Silver chains connected rings in his ears, nose, and lips. His hair was a spray of mousse and color.

He was wreathed in a bright ball of fire.

Billowing smoke clouded the camera feed, but Britton could see the boy stretch out a hand, flames jetting past the camera’s range, engulfing fleeing students, who rolled away, beating at their hair and clothing. People were running, screaming.

Beside the boy stood a chubby girl, her dyed-black hair matching her lipstick and eye makeup. She spread her arms.

The flames around the boy pulsed in time with her motions, forming two man-sized peaks of flame. The fire elementals danced among the students, burning as they went. Britton watched as the elementals multiplied – four, then six. Wires sparked as the fire reached the stage. The girl’s magic touched them as well, the electricity forming dancing human shapes, elementals of sizzling energy. They lit among the students, fingertips crackling arcs of dazzling blue lightning.


Okay, your reaction is:

a) Those poor kids are just scared and confused, that’s why they’re burning their classmates alive.

b) My God, a magical Columbine – someone needs to take out those little sociopaths, quick before the body count hits triple digits!

Would it surprise you to know that the protagonist goes for option “a”?

And from the rest of the chapter and, indeed, the book, it’s perfectly clear the author, Myke Cole, also goes for “a”, and expects the reader to as well. So right from the beginning, Cole loses me – I’m having a problem with suspension of disbelief. I am totally out of sympathy with the protagonist, because are you kidding me?

And this problem with implausibly weird reactions go straight through the book from beginning to end.

Like, suppose you want to get somebody who’s manifested a forbidden magical talent to surrender to you so that you can train him to use his talent in a secret war. You know that it’s widely believed that people who manifest talents like this are taken away and killed, but this is actually not true. So, when you have tracked down this guy with his extremely valuable (if forbidden) talent, and he says, “You’re going to kill me anyway,” you respond:

a) “That’s for a court-martial to decide. Get on your knees and put your hands behind your head.”

b) “Oscar, I know that’s what everybody believes, but I swear to you, it’s not true. You’ve already accidentally killed people; you know you’re too dangerous to be out on your own. The truth is, you just need to switch from the regular army to, well, let’s say special forces. You can learn to control your talent. Just settle down and we’ll get you out of this mess, I promise you.”

You’d think “b”, right? Nope, the government guy in charge of bringing Oscar in goes straight for “a”, which results in Oscar running and various assorted mayhem before he’s finally caught.

Not only that, but even though Oscar’s longing for a place to belong and a sense that he’s doing something worthwhile? Every single authority figure goes out of his way to make it clear that to them and to the supernatural branch of the army, Oscar’s just a slave and a tool. Why do all the officers treat their people like this? Even though it is clearly not very practical if what you want is willing, dedicated people working for you? Ummm . . . because they’re nuts?

Also! Can we have characters with layers? Complicated motivations? No, we cannot. The guys who seem like they might be rough around the edges but maybe they have a heart of gold? Nope, they’re just straight-up bad guys. You want to be a good guy? You’re just nice right from the first moment you walk on stage. And also stupid! Spoiler here, so stop here if you care about that:






Honest to God, my dog, with a brain the size of a walnut, could tell that letting the creepy scary evil Scylla loose would be a really bad idea. Like, a really really bad idea. But it never crosses Oscar’s mind that she might possibly slaughter people like cattle, even though, hello, she said she thought of normal people like animals. And he let her loose anyway? Good Lord above, what a shock that things didn’t work out! Oscar is just so STUPID. And vacillating. Like, decide what you want already! And then STICK TO IT!

This book picked up a couple of amazing blurbs, like “Hands down, the best military fantasy I’ve ever read,” and I can only say, seriously? Or is this the only military fantasy you’ve ever read? SHADOW OPS takes place in an technologically advanced alternate contemporary world, and that may make it unique among military fantasies. Can anybody think of any other fantasies which combine attack helicopters and magic and could fall into the same category of military fantasy as Cole’s book?

Because if not, if this is the best military fantasy out there, then I suggest sticking to military SF and heading straight to Tanya Huff’s VALOR series, which, I am not kidding you, is just infinitely better.

I'm giving this one two stars because, while I was extremely disappointed by the characterization and plotting issues, it is well written.
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 59 books230k followers
December 13, 2012
It's always dangerous picking up a first book by a new author. You never really know what you're going to get.

In some ways, it's even more dangerous if you know the author beforehand. What if you read their book and don't like it?

That's the position I was in with this book. I'd met Myke Cole on several occasions and really liked him. He's a hell of a nice guy, and a bit of an exception to the fantasy author cliche. He's not a beardy pugdy ex-D&D geek. He's a clean-shaven, military-fit, ex-D&D geek.

Anyway, about the book. It's military fantasy, and that’s not my cup of tea. I don't read a lot of it, because I don't find it really engaging.

But this book isn't *just* military fantasy. It has really interesting characters, an interesting world and magic. It's really about watching one man's ongoing conflict with his sense of duty, and how his government treats magically active people in this post-awakened world.

Simply said, I really loved it. Hooked me right in. Kept me interested. Good action. Good characters. It’s not a book you have to be into military stuff to enjoy. It’s just a great book.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,848 followers
March 2, 2017
I come out of reading this horribly divided. On the one hand, I love the "give the audience what it wants" mentality, lots of explosions, driven and heroic characters, caricatured villains, and MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC in a MIL-SF backdrop.

I wanted to just come out of this going: Well, that was a bunch of mindless hokey fun, a total popcorn read where I can turn off my mind and just WATCH THE DAMN ACTION MOVIE. Book. Whatever.

Story-wise, it's all boilerplate and totally classic, the hero falls in with the supposedly good crowd, questions everything, falls out. In the meantime, it's all explosions and portals and mini-epic fights and magic flying everywhere with death delivered to the page with a bright and shiny bow.

Nice, right? I thought so, too.

However,

I can't just sit by and see a lot of casual racism without commenting on it. I feel rather disgruntled. Sure, stereotypes abound in this book. It's what lets us dive right in without any learning curve, but some stereotypes can bite you in the ass. Like Native Americans. It's one thing to have them be the stereotypical resistance, but they're also the bad guys who let the "dangerous magics" run wild. We get one token Indian working for the good guys, too, but he's harmless because they've got him drugged to the gills. And then on top of that, if this wasn't bad enough, we've got the goblins. Who is a stand-in for the Indians. Including the token goblin working for the good guys.

With mirrored tropes like this, we're practically forced to assume a whole slew of things as if it is natural and obvious when in reality it's just a bunch of racism in disguise. Those damn goblins sure get drunk easy (on sugar). And don't think this is just me making this up. There are dozens of similar examples. It only LATER becomes clear that the author is *really* just talking about colonialism and it's *really* all about the Gulf Wars, etc., and maybe it is that, TOO, but the rest marred my enjoyment. Stereotypes like questioning heroes and the big bad military industry and politicians are all good fun, to a point, but others are a real landmine.

It's all under the surface for the most part except for a jerk who gets blatant about it, and our MC is always very PC, but I spent a good deal of the novel wondering if this subtext was going to be a major STORY issue because otherwise, I was going to have to quit this series.

Final estimation? Well, we're in with the indigenous at the end, so perhaps it gets better, but I need to see a lot more effort.
Profile Image for seak.
429 reviews475 followers
September 27, 2019


Wow, what's with all the wind. I...can't...stand...up...straight. I mean I'm used to wind (I live in Wyoming, wind's nothing), but this is excessive.

Oh yeah, this book blew me away.

(Sorry for that, I know, that was really bad, but you're still reading right?)

As bad as my opening was, Shadow Ops: Control Point is one hell of a ride. Beware, if you pick it up, you may not be able to do anything until you finish. It's that good.

I'm going to attempt to explain this book in the next couple paragraphs, but bear with me, I just learned some military jargon by reading the book, I am in no way fluent. Plus there's military jargon specific to the book. See my problem?

The world has changed, and yet not. The Great Reawakening has come and a small percentage of the population has begun to manifest certain magical abilities. People can control fire, water, earth, air and health along with other prohibited types, but you'll find no Captain Planet here. As soon as you manifest, you enlist in the military otherwise risk being named a Selfer - a rogue magic-user who's all but dead in the eyes of the military.

Oscar Britton is a helicopter pilot for the Army, he flies Kiowas if you were wondering. As we jump into Shadow Ops, Britton's team along with a team from the SOC (Supernatural Operations Corps) is on their way to take down a couple Selfers at a local school. The problem is - these are just kids and Britton has a tough time going in to take them out, thus introducing some of the difficult problems with getting rid of due process for a minority group. They take out the kids, not without some clashing between Britton and the SOC team head, Harlequin (an Aeromancer - controls air).

Then, Britton wakes up the next morning manifesting in a prohibited school of magic, he's a probe and probes are dead on sight. What's there to do but run?

There's so much more to go into, but I really hate ruining anything, but lets just say that there are quite a few twists and turns, lots of fighting (both hand-to-hand and with magic), alien species, moral quandaries, and lots more.

As the author, Cole, has been heavily involved in the military and its interesting to see his take on the X-Men premise, when people start exhibiting magical powers. Cole's vision in this book has the government making it illegal and the military enforcing it - no ifs, ands, or buts. It's hard to say the government would just eliminate due process, but at the same time we are living in the time of the Patriot Act.

Oscar Britton is our primary focus throughout the story even though it's told from an omniscient perspective. While he's made the military his career, he still sees the flaws in a system that allows people to essentially become slaves of the system especially when they have no control over whether they inherit powers or not. But then again, that's the problem, people can't always control their powers.

Britton struggles throughout the book with whether he supports the military or not and the constant theme that training and preparation wins out over power is also prominent. He knows the military does good things, but is it worth the cost?

I've almost painted the picture that this is some moody, contemplative work, but that's not the case and I'm sorry to have lead you astray. These elements are more islands in the river of plot movement and action, which are never bogged down, only enhanced by such expositions.

Myke Cole is an author to watch and Shadow Ops: Control Point is possibly the best debut of the year. I know it's early yet, but I couldn't put this book down and that goes a long way for me.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Update: Very cool to see this review get quoted in a newer version of the book:

Only the Best Sci-Fi is me
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 28 books128k followers
December 27, 2012
Hmm well, this book was enjoyable, the premise, that magic has appeared in modern-day and the military has to regulate it, was very intriguing to me. It was a fast read for me, it reminded me of a Vin Diesel movie (not a bad thing!) in that I pretty much knew what was gonna happen (shades of Avatar and other sc-fi movies everywhere) but that's fine, it was a good vacation read. I wasn't blown away by the characters, but I liked the magic system a LOT so I'll pick up the next book.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,850 reviews3,363 followers
March 3, 2017

This book nearly killed me.

First things first: the content.
It's a world where magic suddenly appears (nobody knows why), giving people powers such as creating and controlling fire, wind, water etc. These magically enhanced people usually are not in control of their powers when they get them, are treated like the enemy by the government, and often even kill people (some do it on purpose even).
There is a special military unit responding to exactly that kind of threat and our protagonist serves in that unit as a helicopter pilot.
There are also people with a very rare gift such as healing or creating portals - the latter being a "forbidden" power (Anyone else smelling bullshit because forbidden means the government will have something to hide? Yeah.).

So far, so ordinary. And I mean REALLY ordinary.

Right at the beginning we get an incident with two mages in a high school. The author goes to great lengths in describing that most of the military personnel responding to that incident went to school there, therefore knowing the burning victims (yes, all people burn alive, pretty gruesome for a YA novel).
While the two teenagers (a fire mage and one with the forbidden power) rage through the school, those supposed professionals act like chicken whose heads have been chopped off recently.
Even I could have told them better tactics than what they applied (and this coming from a writer who was in the military).

There is - OF COURSE - one amongst them who is a mage himself because otherwise it would be too racist. *rolls eyes* And he is the one who wants those two raging kids to be history while our oh-so-heroic protagonist wants to save at least one of them. *cough - bullshit - cough*

After this glorious incident the scene switches to the hospital where one of the soldiers is being treated (the fire mage almost killed him) and *drumroll* our MC discovers a magic ability. And *louder drumroll* it's the forbidden one! Aw, our special little snowflake.
So he goes on the run, not wanting to end up dead because everyone turns against him (shocking turn of events, I know)! But of course he is captured and trained to be a killing machine (this time not like a soldier but like a soldier with magic abilities, because DIFFERENCE, people)!

And this is just the generic beginning (not even an hour into the 8,5 hours of this audiobook).

Naturally, our MC now discovers a whole new world (literally), the resistance forming against the government (Magneto would be proud - NOT), constantly debates in lengthy inner monologues what to do because our hero is a whiney ass. Oh, and a hypocrite. He also switches loyalties faster than you can keep track. Not to mention the fact that !

We also get a variety of magical creatures (goblins) that are of course all war-loving, animalistic beings of low intelligence as well as a government that prohibits certain magical abilities while being perfectly fine with others for no apparent reason (it is even hinted at that other nations have different evaluations/restrictions).


I need to get back to the whole race thing for a minute. It is clear from the start that the mages and (later) the goblins are supposed to represent Native Americans. The guy from the beginning who wants those amok-running teenagers dead? He's even called Apache for crying out loud! And this one trophy guy the Army has is drugged into oblivion to keep him under control because what else to do with a "savage", right?!
For anyone not believing me about the Native American thing, the goblins even easily get "drunk" on sugar - which they only get if they do degrading tasks for the Army.


The rest is a blend of very flat characters. Like the flattest I've EVER seen (and I read the first 16 pages of 50 Shades of Garbage)! Total cardboard cut-outs.
Feast your eyes on the 3 female characters (yep, there are only 3 throughout the entire book):
#1 is a sociopath who believes that mages should rule the Earth
#2 is consistently portrayed like a child, incapable of making good decisions
#3 is the love interest
But it's not like the male characters were any better. Don't worry too much.

To make matters a little bit better, the author throws those carboard characters into fight scenes. It's pretty obvious that that is the main selling point of this novel. I admit that some were not too bad, but it was always the same generic formula and I got tired soon.

Not to mention that this "graphic audio" version is really not my thing. The background noises (in case of the afore-mentioned battle scenes we're talking about various gun fire, explosions, screams, ...) are far too loud so you have trouble hearing the narrator or the dialogue from the characters. It honestly gave me a headache and made me stop the file often.



I can honestly say that this was one of THE worst books I've EVER read IN MY LIFE!
*drops mic*
And now
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 91 books92.4k followers
July 8, 2012
This book reads very much like a Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster action movie. A fast, almost frantic at times pace. I think the concept is a nice change from a lot of the standard fantasy almost a cross between fantasy and military science fiction. In full disclosure, I have met Myke at a convention and speak with him on line from time to time, but that doesn't discount the fact that he wrote a very exciting debut novel.
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 272 books96.3k followers
February 25, 2014
Control Point is Myke Cole's military fantasy novel and an excellent entry into the field.

SF is often accused of being strong on plot but lacking characterization. This is certainly not the Case with Control Point. Oscar Britton is a fully realized character who faces real moral dilemmas as he serves his country in suppressing or controlling citizens who unexpectedly manifest powerful magic.

When Oscar himself begins to experience strange abilities that he can scarcely control, he knows the right choice is to report himself. If he can.

The deeper he is drawn into the government system for dealing with magic users, the more ethical dilemmas he will confront, as he himself becomes the Other.

This series just becomes more compelling with every book. Start here.
Recommended.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
1,988 reviews2,583 followers
February 10, 2014
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...

Shadow Ops: Control Point is military science fiction, but definitely not the kind I had been expecting. And honestly, if I'd known earlier just what kind of excitement I was going to be in for, I probably wouldn't have let this one hang out so long on my to-read list.

Not long ago though, I was in a bit of a reading funk and was in dire need of a book to pick me up, and Control Point sure did the trick. The book follows protagonist Oscar Britton, an Army officer who suddenly manifests a power which allows him to summon portals between and within worlds. In a time when people with such magical abilities are strictly regulated and under surveillance, those who run from the government are immediately labeled renegades and hunted down. Panicked and overwhelmed, Oscar chooses to flee but in time realizes there is a lot more to this world of magic than he's ever known.

The first chapter was like a pure shot of adrenaline, laying out everything I needed to know about this book and what I saw pleased me. It pleased me greatly. Sorcery and spec-ops tactics? Soldiers with superhero-like powers and codenames? This is a marriage of science fiction and fantasy made in heaven, where magic and futuristic technology co-exist in harmony with the unadulterated action of a military sci-fi novel, from an author who obviously knows what he's writing about.

The cover? Totally does not do this book justice. I wouldn't had a clue what was waiting for me within these pages if I hadn't dug deeper. Even the description belies the true nature of the world in this novel, which is unlike any setting I've ever encountered. An entire civilization has been altered, the existing social structure upended because of people waking up with magical talents, and Myke Cole does a great job showing this in is storytelling. A whole other realm also exists on another plane, home to a race of goblin-like creatures who are in constant war with the military base there. The magic system is also fleshed out and presented well.

I was also surprised to see that the story is not just nonstop action. Between the hectic battles and covert military operations, there is a real attempt at character building and exploration of the relationships between the main protagonist and the others around him. Britton is a much deeper character than I'd expected, a thoughtful man who struggles with his own feelings a lot, constantly asking questions and evaluating his situation.

Like most other reviewers, I've also noted Britton's indecision and his frequent switching of sides. To tell the truth, I didn't find it as extreme as some make it out to be, though my issue with this has less to do with his wishy-washiness and more to do with the fact that his inability to make up his mind often seems like a tactic to drive the story forward. It's obvious from his constant self-analyzing that Britton is a smart, introspective person, and yet on several occasions he will do things without thinking, and always much chaos and loss of life would be a direct result of his actions. He would be sick with guilt afterwards, but it's hard to feel for him after the first time it happens, especially when he doesn't learn from his mistakes. It's a very small gripe though, considering the pile of positives that more than made up for it.

This book offered me a side of the genre that I haven't seen much of before, and as such the author has my attention. I'm looking forward to see how the rest of this series will unfold; something tells me the next book will be just as much fun and full of surprises.
Profile Image for Peter.
Author 62 books11.6k followers
August 24, 2011
I have been one of Myke Cole's alpha readers for many years, and think this is by far his best work. Control Point has an original premise: what if magic returned to the modern world and only one person in a million could access it? Answer: They'd be drafted.

This is a stellar book, combining all the military realism of Black Hawk Down with the social commentary and awesome spectacle if the X-Men. I highly recommend it and will write a more lengthy review closer the the pub date.
Profile Image for Benjamin Cheah.
Author 12 books5 followers
July 21, 2012
I didn't like the book. Straight off the bat, the cover lies. The tacticool attire on the cover plays exactly no role in the story. No magical character uses long arms -- only pistols, and only as backup weapons (for as-yet unclear reasons). The cover shows a strong black man leading a team of seasoned operators -- but the reality is a wishy-washy soldier without any discernable leadership skills in charge of a ragtag bunch of non-military misfits. The guy with lightning bolt in his hand doesn't even work for the protagonist.

This disjoint between the cover and the story hints at what could have been, but failed to reach. On one hand, Myke Cole has created fascinating worlds of military training, bureaucracy, privatisation of defence sciences, magic, and otherworldly creatures. Unfortunately, the prose is ho-hum, the plot almost nonexistent, and the characters stereotypical.

I really did not like the protagonist. Oscar Britton is a Kiowa helicopter pilot in the US Army, who suddenly manifests a form of magic that happens to be prohibited. The novel has him grappling with the consequences: him running away, being captured, and trained to be a killing machine. Throughout this story, Britton is reacting to events, putting little to no thought to long-term consequences. He swings between staying in the military and thinking of rebelling literally every other chapter, in direct response to what he has immediately experienced, without taking wider ramifications or even strategy into account. I get the sense that Britton is just an empty vessel, to be filled up and poured out to showcase more of the world, with no actual thoughts, history, worldview or perspective of his own.

The other characters are, simply put, stereotypes. What you see of them is exactly what they are. There's the drill sergeant nasty, infantile teenage girl, rebel without a cause, omnicidal maniac, effeminate man and so on. There is no attempt to make them any more human than they already are. As for the nonhuman creatures, they are almost all animalistic beings of apparently low intelligence and noteworthy only in their insistence on waging war.

The magical system Cole builds seems strange. In this story universe, the United States permits certain branches of magic, but not others. (Other nations are hinted to have different approaches) The actual reasons for American prohibition of magic aren't fully fleshed out, apart from a couple of sequences where the characters have to face villains who use prohibited magic. On first glance, it may look like it's because those prohibited schools have the ability to cause great harm. However, throughout the story, the ones who cause the most death and destruction (Britton aside) use legal magic.

Cole's prose is entirely utilitarian. It tells you exactly what is going on, but nothing more. It is as flat as his characters, and remarkable for its unremarkableness. As for the plot, it consists entirely of Britton reacting to events, and reacting to his reactions. At no time does Britton stop reacting and start acting, intelligently taking charge of his destiny instead of letting things happen to him. In this sense, he is less protagonist and more viewpoint character.

The main selling point of this story is the action scenes. They are adrenaline soaked bloodfests that would satisfy combat junkies and showcase the characters' skills. This is the only positive I can say about this.

In the end, all I can see in this story is a story of what could have been. It could have raised tough questions on individual rights vs duty to society, what defines a man who has incredible power, framing of national security threats, and the use of military and law enforcement to handle said threats. And indeed it does, but they are overshadowed by so many flaws, the message is lost.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,781 followers
April 25, 2012
This is an...interesting book. The best way to describe it (I think) is a sort of collusion involving Those Who Walk in Darkness, Avatar (the movie) and the X-Men with a touch of Full Metal Jacket. You'll see lots of familiar plot points and character types that you will most likely recognize. The book comes in for a 3 rating from me because there were times I thought surely it would be a 4 star read and other times when I thought it might barely be a 2.

We open up on a raid to "take down" a couple new magic users. For some reason magic has suddenly begun to manifest among the populations of the world. After a disaster we get a sort of thumbnail account of the government has clamped down on magic and no one is allowed to simply be a free adept. There are various schools of magic and the ones that are "allowed" must either join the army or be sent somewhere and live totally suppressed. If you are "gifted" in a forbidden school...well you're taken away and no one knows quite what happens. Rumors abound that these people are simply killed. If you run...that is when your magic manifests you don't call the authorities and turn yourself in, you're a felon and usually killed by a specialized military team that will show up to...take care of things, help with your problem, council you...take you down. You know, kill you.

Oscar Britton is a lieutenant in the army, a pilot and on one of these specialized teams. As the book opens he's just seen two teenagers killed...one apparently simply executed as she lays on a stretcher waiting for medical care. This somehow seems to Oscar as less than caring, not exactly cricket you know. It disappoints him with the operator who does it. He's not real happy.

He's even less happy a couple of hours later when he manifests...in a forbidden school. One of his best friends advises him to turn himself in, to the man he'd just seen execute the teenage girl. At first glance this seems to Oscar to be, well less than prudent.

He runs...and is now a felon. He can legally be killed on sight.

The first part of the novel is relatively fast moving as we get an introduction to the world and the people who are some of our main characters. I think it might have helped to give us a little more time to get to know Oscar before he manifests but then again a lot of what we need is at least laid out quickly in some background exposition as "things" happen.

Sadly there is then a period of sort of mental debate and world revelation that we go through. I found some of this interesting, some of it boring and some of it I almost lost interest in completely. For a great deal of the book Oscar swings sort of back and forth in his opinions and in his decisions. There is also a "problem" for him in deciding one way about how he will act and react to what he learns. The book does pick back up and begin to move again and tell it's story. There are times when I'm sure (if you're anything like me) you'll beat your head on the nearest wall over something Oscar does (or doesn't do) that doesn't make sense. There are times Oscar seems to somehow lose a few dozen IQ points that he has demonstrated having not long before. But still those are not the dominate parts of the book and they didn't drive me off, though they may have helped bring the book from 4 to 3.

I'd say there's enough good here that I can recommend that you at least try this one. The ending makes it quite clear more is planned for Oscar and the other people we meet here. Also be aware going in that the story telling is a bit heavy handed. Making a point about good and evil...right and wrong...and certain other things is not done with subtlety, it's done with a bludgeon. Still on the whole a good readable novel.

So how is this book "like" the examples I listed above? We'll put that under a spoiler tag as some might not want to know that much about the book before they read it...

So, as I said I'll go three stars and say pretty good. I'd recommend you try it and see what you think.

Profile Image for Rob.
839 reviews534 followers
August 1, 2016
Executive Summary: Pretty enjoyable, though problematic at times. 3.5 stars rounded up since it's his first novel.

Audiobook: Korey Jackson seems like a good fit for the protagonist's voice, but adds little else. He's a fine narrator, but nothing special. He speaks clearly and at a good volum. This is one of those books that's fine in audio, but not a must listen. I'll likely continue the series in audio simply because it's the type of book that works well for me in that format.

Full Review
Myke Cole has been a guest on Sword & Laser a few times now. He seems like a cool guy, and I've really wanted to check his books out. I've had this ebook for awhile, but haven't gotten around to it. Since it was a cheap upgrade to get the audio, I decided to go that route.

I haven't read much military fantasy. This is certainly the only modern military fantasy I've read. I think the main reason I enjoyed this book is because at it's core, it's a magic school trope. Magic boot camp really, but close enough. I can't get enough of it.

My main issue was I found the protagonist (and the majority of the characters really) unlikeable. I'm not sure if that was Mr. Cole's intention or not. He definitely seemed to be going for a grey portrayal where who's right and who's wrong isn't always clear. The only characters I found likeable throughout were Marty and Terez.

I have no experience with military culture outside of fiction. Myke Cole does. I'm going to assume he does a good job with that. The lingo and some of the personalities seemed to line up with my expectations. It reinforces my long held thought that I have no business in the military, and makes me appreciate those who serve all the more. I certainly couldn't cut it.

The book was a bit darker than I'd hoped for. I guess that's probably bad expectations on my part. It probably relates back to my general dislike of the protagonist. I understand his struggles with what the right thing to do is, but his selfishness and often times lack of remorse were extremely off putting.

This book brings up a lot of political issues relevant to debates in the US over the actions of the government on personal freedoms, discrimination, use of force, military contractors and in general how to act in an increasingly grey area that is the war on terror. Who are the bad guys here? Do the ends justify the means? I feel like Mr. Cole does a good job in presenting both sides of many of these issues that often left me unsure who/what I was rooting for.

Overall, the concept of military squads of magicians is a cool one, and the magic bootcamp plotline kept me really interested even when I struggled with some of the characters. The book felt fairly self-contained to me, despite being the first book of a trilogy. I think I could stop here and be content. Not that I plan to. I'm looking forward to checking out the next book in this series sometime soon.
Profile Image for Scott Sigler.
Author 94 books4,002 followers
August 19, 2012
I felt this was a kick-ass debut novel. I might rate it 4 or even 4.5 stars if this was his second or third book, but for the first time out of the gate I'm giving Cole a bonus for hammering home a crazy, crazy story.

Superhero commandos. So much fun.

What I liked about this was that Cole really locked down the rule system. He makes it clear what is and what is not possible, even while letting his characters do unrealistic things. This made the story logical and rational to me. He avoided the paranormal "anything can happen at any time, and I don't need to explain how or why" aspect that takes me out of many magic- or ghost-based stories. Nothing wrong with those stories, just a personal pref for what I like to read.

So is it a straight-up 5-star on it's own? Probably not. Does it deserve the high rank because it is a first novel, and you can see the sweat the author put into creating his rule system? Yes, yes it does.
Profile Image for Mike.
650 reviews40 followers
April 5, 2012
Early review here, this'll be on the blog tomorrow.

Shadow Ops: Control Pointby Myke Cole has been something of a critical darling amongst online reviewers. The premise absolutely sounds amazing: people have begun manifesting magical abilitys and in response the US government takes control of the individuals lives, they are after all essentially lethal weapons, and more or less press gangs them into the military service (or forces them to liven in what sounds an awful lot like a breeding experiment). The story follows Oscar Britton a military man intially tasked with bringing down “selfers,” people who go on the run after manifesting magical abilities, but who finds himself on the run after he himself manifests a rare, powerful and highly prohibited magical ability. Forced to join the Supernatural Operations Corps Britton must struggle with guilt of his own actions and with trying to find a place to fit in.


Indeed the world of Shadow Ops: Control Point is a fascinating one. In truth it is this aspect of the novel that I found most compelling. We are introduced to this world years down the line with the policies that regulate magic already long in place. Things are hinted at, events the presaged the very draconian control of magical abilities and Cole shows a deft hand a building a very solid and very real feeling world. The level of control the U.S. Government has is almost disturbing and you can only imagine the type of horrors that had to have occurred in order to enact those policies. On the other hand the novel’s perspective is fairly one-sided. Readers only ever see the military side of things and the general civilian response to these laws is hinted at only in the epitaphs at the beginning of each chapter.

Of course all is not as it seems in the world of Shadow Ops and the manifestation of Oscar’s abilities presages the revelations about the Source of those abilities. Cole keeps the details about the Source, a whole magical realm, obfuscated. The focus on Oscar’s internal conflic, serve the SOP or rebel, taking center stage over what the SOP is doing in the Source. Hints are dropped, careful links between various aspects of the mundane world and magical one but details are never spelled out. As a reader who thrives on mystery this is something that frustrated me to know end. Things like the horror show in the medical tent, the strange shadow creatures, and the connections between the two worlds are exactly the kind of juicy details I absolutely love.

My major problem with the novel is that I don’t like Oscar. That minimizes my feelings a bit. His decision making process is never something I quite understood and there were only a few, a very few, instances where I found myself rooting for him. I don’t want to spoil too much but there is a literal mountain of collateral damage left in Oscar’s wake; so much so that by the end of the novel I pretty much loathed him outright. It doesn’t help what with a few notable exceptions the supporting cast is not much better off. I’ll give most of Shadow Coven a pass in this regard, in fact I liked all of them better than Oscar and they each seemed to making the best of a bad situation (with a touch of Stockholm Syndrome tossed in for good measure). The military characters of the novel are equally detestable and I quickly found myself with no one to really root for during Oscar’s conflict with the SOP. Except for Marty. Marty is the character that redeemed the rest for me. A goblin native to the Source it was Marty who I felt the most sympathy for and Marty whose plight I actually cared about.

My difficulties with the novel aside it was still an entertaining read and I have hopes that in future volumes Oscar will in some way attempt to redeem himself. Cole does a fantastic job of setting up the SOP as the “bad guys.” They’re not really evil, just the product of a flawed system and you are often forced to root for Oscar (mistakes and all) given the types of comprimises that the SOP seems willing to make. The middle section of the novel is the slowest and for me was the most the difficult to get through, things get hung up on Oscar’s indecision and the novel crawls during these chapters. Thankfully some of that indecision is interspersed with action and it in those scenes that Cole’s talent really shines.

The audiobook version was narrated by Corey Jackson and I have to admit I was not a fan of his performance. It isn’t always easy to tell which character is talking and the author’s tendency to forgo dialogue attribution (fine in print) doesn’t always result in the most easy to follow conversations in audio form. It isn’t impossible to listen to and it definitely wasn’t enough to make me stop listening but it was a bit of a distraction and certainly lessened the impact the novel had on me.

Shadow Ops: Control Point is amazing accomplished first novel and well worth a look for fantasy fans looking for something very different. In truth, the novel the bears closer resemblence to military sci-fi like Haldeman’s Forever War or Heinlein’s Starship Troopers than it does to anything by Tolkein. Cole show a deft hand at both action and world building and while I wasn’t a fan of Oscar it should be noted that his decisions and internal strife do follow consistent and logical patterns. I’ll definitely be picking up any future volumes and I highly recommend readers give this book a try.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
147 reviews32 followers
April 8, 2019
So lately, a lot of really cool authors have been popping up. Saladin Ahmed, Brent Weeks, Peter Brett, Douglas Hulick, and now Myke Cole. It's hard not to be enthusiastic about a group of authors who all really love fantasy, and seem like the kinds of guys I'd like to hang out with, do a bbq, have a beer, and play some Magic the Gathering. I very much wanted to love both this book and Throne of the Crescent Moon, but both books had problems that kept me from giving them my unabashed fandom.

There are some great things about this book. Cole's magical system is SO fun to read about, and he does a great job writing about it. His magic actually made me sad that I didn't have magic. This book delivers great immersion (at times), an enjoyable cast of characters, set in an interesting world. You can tell he really thought out how magic would affect the modern world, with all kinds of reactions from joining the military, to going "selfer" and hiding from the government, to full on insurgency. Cole also developed a believable governmental response to prohibited schools of magic in the creation of The pacing was quick where it needed to be, and more drawn out when the story needed to slow. The story is also very influenced by the military (obvs) but that didn't annoy me as much as I thought it would.

My problem with the book starts with the letter O, and ends in S-c-a-r B-r-i-t-t-o-n. I knew that Cole wouldn't be able to have him settle for either OR , so I'm glad he created a middle ground, but Oscar's moral quandary would have been much more believable if he didn't change his mind every five minutes. Between this and the , I lowered my rating to three stars. I know what the author was trying to get at by having his character be indecisive, and I hope he improves on this with later books.

Another little issue I had with it was that the prohibited schools of magic seemed a little arbitrary

And yes, the comparisons to X-Men are fairly accurate.

All in all, a very enjoyable read, with an annoying main character. I'll read the next one, for sure.
Profile Image for Burgoo.
437 reviews6 followers
July 7, 2012
I was looking for SO:CP to be the book equivalent of a summer blockbuster. Plot driven, lots of action, some mindless fun. In a way, it did deliver that. Cole does an excellent job with combat sequences, with building a vision of what the military might look like in this world.
Unfortunately, there are some major flaws in the book. SPOILERS FOLLOW.
I won’t bother to go into the character problems with the Oscar, the protagonist. They have been much discussed in a variety of reviews. Suffice it to say, his actions and decision making did not seem to be consistent of what we had learned of his history. So let’s move onto some other issues:
1. Gender. There are really only 3 female characters in the book. Scylla, a sociopath who believes that Latents should rule the Earth. Donner, who is consistently infantilized & portrayed as a child, incapable of making good decisions. Finally, Theresa, the love interest, who is….well, the love interest. She seems to be attracted to Oscar because he’s the protagonist. (& she’s the Madonna in the traditional dichotomy. So all the women are one dimensional at best, and those single dimensions are horrible stereotypes.
2. Colonialism. There’s a subplot involving the US military invasion of the “Source”. The native peoples, referred to as “Goblins” are either resisting or working on the US base, doing menial tasks in exchange for sugar. In case you weren’t smart enough to make the connection yourself, there’s another subplot involving a separatist movement on a Native American reservation in New Mexico, just to make the connection explicit. We only meet one “Goblin” , Marty, who’s the “kind & spiritual” native. The resistance is portrayed as “savage and primitive”. So only 1 actual character, but it’s all solidly a stereotype.
3. Politics. While the story explicitly tells us that the US policy of mandatory military service is wrong, that’s not what the story implicitly tells us. The only articulate spokesperson for the counterargument is Scylla, the supervillan. And emotionally, the reader is led to enjoy the government actions. That’s the fun part of the book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carly.
456 reviews184 followers
January 4, 2015
~4.5

My first introduction to Myke Cole was when I stumbled across his blog post on the portrayal of violence in fantasy. Cole's writing had the solidity that comes from personal experience, and that's something I've rarely encountered on the subject. Cole talked about his own experiences during his three tours in Iraq and his contracting work with a frankness and perceptiveness that deeply impressed me. After reading his post on PTSD, I made a rare impulse decision and picked up his book. I've rarely been more grateful for giving into a whim.

In a mysterious event called the "Great Reawakening," magic has returned to the world. Every so often, a Latent will suddenly manifest rare a supernatural talent. Some can call up thunderstorms via Aeromancy or cast fire with Pyromancy while others can mutate the human body via Physiomancy. In the United States, though, magic doesn't necessarily grant power: if you are Latent, you belong to the military, courtesy of the newly-instated McGauer-Linden Act. If you're a Probe-- someone who manifests in one of the prohibited schools of magic-- then the military is going to make you disappear. And if you run, you're a Selfer--someone who puts yourself above others-- and that's a capital crime.
And while you may run, you can't hide.

The story begins when Lieutenant Oscar Britton is summoned to provide backup for the SOC (Supernatural Operations Corps) takedown of two Selfers, one of whom is a Probe and able to summon elementals. Britton is conflicted: while the Probe has caused the deaths of civilians, she's just a kid, and her crimes call for the death penalty or worse. No one really knows what happens to the Probes, but there are whispers of everything from nasty deaths to laboratory vivisections to a hidden camp where the Probes are enslaved and brainwashed and beaten into soldiers. When the mission goes awry, Oscar suddenly finds himself facing prohibited magic and discovering the government's secrets firsthand. Welcome to a brave new world.

If you're looking for a gritty urban fantasy with a nice bit of worldbuilding, or some seriously pulse-racing battle magic scenes, then I think this book will definitely deliver. I'm a sucker for elemental magic, and when you throw in other twists like Elementalists or Portomancy, which gives the wielder not only the ability to open gates into other dimensions but also a mean chopping technique with the gate boundaries, the battles are pretty intense. There's also quite a bit of military/bureaucratic humour, such as the pamphlets promoting precautions against AMDs (accidental magical discharges.) But the book's heart is far more powerful. Given that the author openly mentions his military experiences, I wasn't sure what to expect. I think I predicted something a bit in line with his blog post on PTSD: a carefully apolitical, thoughtful explanation of the effects of battle. Instead, the book confronts a far more unsettling issue: what justifies a war? What justifies military power? How can we find the balance between safety and freedom?

I loved the structure: each chapter starts with a quote from a political leader or a military official or a social commentator, with everything from simple regulations to a touch of the profound:
When you relegate a class of people to pariah status, you are creating a ready-made insurgency. The problem here is that this particular one has the power to bring about a change in the regime.

Character-building is not the strong suit of the book, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) it really doesn't matter. The main character combines a tendency towards vacillation with an absolutely impressive degree of self-righteous callousness, but weirdly enough, I think this actually accentuated the themes of the book. Initially, I thought the character problems were most obvious with the kindly, gentle, ever-patient token minority/indigenous character, but when I started comparing him to the rest of the cast, I quickly realised they were mostly equally one-dimensional. The portrayal of females was also somewhat problematic: other than a briefly-mentioned terramancer, the female cast consists of a femme fatale, a noble, beautiful, and sexy female healer, and an idiot ingénue with a schoolgirl crush and a bad case of self-righteousness. The plot felt a little slow at times--not because there wasn't plenty of action, but because it lacks a single driving arc. I think this was intentional; the sheer unpredictability of the plot also accentuates the struggle over submission or rebellion. Cole does a great job in portraying a militarily bureaucracy:
"But then you actually come face-to-face with magic, and it—”
“It’s deadly,” she finished for him.
“More than that,” he added. “It’s boring. It’s hyperregulated and bound up in red tape."


In this fusion of magic and military action, it would be easy to drift into jingoism, to focus on the fighting and leave the government's motivations unquestioned. Instead, Cole makes the world far more complex. In the years since the magic appeared, some things haven't changed. The military still has a strong focus on fighting terrorism, but now that any Selfer can be considered a domestic terrorist, this means that the military spends quite a lot of time subduing its own citizens. Some of the Apache tribes have embraced magic as a way to regain their land and autonomy, and, according to the government, this, too, is terrorism. And then there are the wars that are so secret that they do not need to be justified. The military gives its soldiers validation, a sense of righteousness; as one soldier explains to a Selfer. The argument is always national security, the cost of safety, the price of freedom. But when these homilies are drenched in blood, it becomes less clear-cut.

I spent the whole book off-balance, not sure where Cole was going to take the story. I love the way he explored everything from imperialism to xenophobia, exposing the nastiest practices of the military in ways that didn't quite confront reality. All the same, I'm now anxious to determine how many of these practices our military actually uses. Some of them really made me want to emigrate to Canada-- or shoot myself for supporting the system via my taxes.

And then there are the recruiting tactics. From the draft to the press gangs, the military hasn't been known for a tendency towards passive recruiting, but the Linden Act has opened a whole new realm of possibilities: according to the law, a Latent must call up the SOC as soon as their powers manifest, then given the choice between the military or lifelong painful Suppression. If the Latent runs, he's automatically a Selfer at the top of the Most Wanted list and, when captured, is given the choice between the military and imprisonment or death. The government has absolute power, and more than that, it holds power over information. It's only too easy to be brainwashed, to submit, fall in, to cooperate solely for the sake of becoming part of something.

The book's message is all the more powerful for its elements of conflict and contradiction. Cole's own experiences elevate the book to something greater; his questioning of the military comes from experience, not ignorance. His struggles over justice and freedom are deeper and more profound, weighted by the years he has given to his country. Backed by this weight, his questions are far more haunting. When I finished the book, I was left troubled and anxious, torn between a desire to open Pandora's box, to try to delve into the underside of the military, and an urge to stick my head back in the sand. I did take one decisive action: I went and bought the next book, which, for me, is the highest form of praise. As always, I can't help but feel inadequate when I try to capture what makes a novel unique, so I'll leave you with a quote:
Magic is the death of social structure. It has taken the completed puzzle, broken the pieces apart, and tossed them in the air. It’s up to us to put them back together again. The new picture they form will be very different from the old one.


Excerpted on my review on BookLikes, which contains additional spoilers and quotes that I was too lazy to copy over.
Profile Image for Mihir.
643 reviews289 followers
February 7, 2012

Full review originally at Fantasy Book Critic


ANALYSIS: I first heard about Myke Cole via Peter V. Brett’s blog , he had mentioned his friendship with Myke a few times and this particular section about his then book titled “Latent” caught my attention nicely:
is great Military Fantasy – the X-Men meets Black Hawk Down. Myke has been one of my inner-circle test readers for many years, and vice-versa. There is a lot of him in The Warded Man, and a lot of me in Latent. Keep your eyes peeled for it.”
The military fantasy line along with that awesome elevator pitch made me aware of Cole and I was particularly awaiting more news about it. a few months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Anne Sowards. Anne had pointed out his book as one to watch out for and had some effusive praise for it as well. Thereafter Myke was awesome enough to send me the book’s ARC and I dug in wanting to see how justified the hype was all about in regards to Control Point.

Firstly the story opens with a nice action packed sequence which not only introduces the main protagonist Oscar Britton but the world which is vastly similar to our own except for having one crucial anomaly, that is MAGIC! A world wherein people are waking up with various elemental powers that have to be classified and kept under study. Thus the nations around the world are trying to adapt themselves around this change and started their own official magic-infused soldiers and battalions. Oscar is a simple soldier however once he’s involved in the take down of two teenage “Probes” [Rogue Magicians or Selfers], he witnesses casual brutality which shakes his conscience and he’s forced to help the US Supernatural Corps take down the two at the expense of the safety of his own team members. Once the task is accomplished, while recuperating Oscar suddenly goes Latent and manifests a rare type of magic called Portamancy which not only places him squarely at the top on the wanted list but also makes him special in the eyes of those who are on the search for greater power.

Thus begins the tale of Oscar Britton, who discovers that not all conspiracy theories are false and things are never what they seem to be. The story then moves on to the next phase of his rehabilitation at the hands of the US government which is the true meat of the story and makes this debut such a fantastic one. Author Myke Cole has indeed worked on this story for a long time and it shows vibrantly as the themes which are nuanced within the plot are felt strongly by the reader. The characterization of the main protagonist as well as the fellow character cast is a rich one, perhaps a bit impeded with the third person view chosen. Yet the author resolutely gives the reader a terrific view of the protagonist’s thoughts, feelings and the profound metamorphosis through a narrative prose style which nails the reader’s attention through and through.

Perhaps the best part of the book (for me at least) is the vividly imagined worldscape, to come up with the explosive mix of Magic in today’s world is not hard at all. However to postulate the world scenario created and then convincingly entrance the readers with it, is something of a rave-worthy talent. To find it in a debutante makes it special, and this is the best thing about this book. The world and magic system showcased seems to be so thoroughly constructed that its hard to point out flaws in it (not that they are absent, but on a very close examination are the few ones visible). These minute aberrations can perhaps be better explained with the reason that since this is the first book, the author went in for a more action packed plot eschewing the detailed expositions so as to not sacrifice the narrative energy.

I also want to see how the author expands this world/magic system as there are some glimpses shown that are tantalizingly cool. Lastly the author being a military personnel brings to life a veritable slice of the military life and all the good & bad aspects of it. This exploration creates a rather catch-22 situation for the protagonist and which is wonderfully exploited by the author with some terrific shades of the 1990s X-Men Saga seen. Also within it we are also introduced to perhaps one of the best counter-foil characters ever created, this character is one of those which the readers will just love to hate giving almost no reason to ever change those thoughts.

Lastly there are a couple of hiccups in this book, namely that in between Oscar’s transition from a runaway latent to a self-measured warrior of the Shadow coven, the pace of the book slackens as the book energy perhaps mirrors the protagonist’s plot-induced confusion. This aspect lasts for about 80-odd pages and once its over, the pace picks up again, and for the second drawback is that the author hasn’t quite thoroughly explained some of the crucial happenings in the book. These aspects if focused upon cause the book to feel a bit weak for example it is never quite thoroughly explained as to why/how Oscar got his powers and what marks him out as a “special water baby”. This is just me but when you enjoy certain stories a lot you want them to have almost next to nothing in the negative departments. This might not be the case for every reader and so will depend on each person’s taste.

CONCLUSION: Myke Cole’s debut is another ace from the ACE book stable and possibly heralds a series which if handled competently, can be an absolute break out saga. Myke delivers a standout book which not only gives the readers a different type of a story but also carves a further niche in the sub-genre that is urban fantasy. If you aren’t excited yet for this book, you should be, this is a superb release to start off the new year and one which can be read across genre lines. I can’t wait to get my hands on Shadow Ops series: Fortress Frontier and see where he plans to take the reader next.
Profile Image for Daniel.
722 reviews51 followers
August 23, 2012
Myke Cole's take on the US military regulating and employing magic as a "force multiplier" is believable and entertaining. The scenes where new recruits use their magic in training exercises are neat, while the actual missions featuring magic can be downright breathtaking. One operation, in which our protag, Oscar Britton, has to assist a local police force in taking down a rogue magic user, featured some freaky imagery and a grotesque application of offensive enchantment. It is clear that Cole put a lot of thought into weaponizing magical powers and how to capture these ideas in prose.

Less effective is Cole's portrayal of Britton's development throughout the latter's training as a budding magic user. Britton asks himself a lot of questions as he experiences the indoctrination process that goes with his training, and there are moments when Britton's dilemma doesn't gel with his military background--especially given his rank as a commanding officer. Though I haven't served myself, I imagine that Britton would have resolved some of his anxieties in his earlier years as a new recruit in an Officer Candidate School. Furthermore, the timeframe for this story is a number of months, during which time Britton is training alongside his unit on a daily basis; given this proximity, I would expect Britton to develop a stronger allegiance to his squad than Cole suggests.

That said, all of my suppositions are based on what I have read in history and in military memoirs. Cole has actually served in the armed forces, and he could very well have experienced--whether personally or otherwise--the conflicts that befall Britton.

Overall, this was a helluva a read. Cole's ideas stand out in the genre, and I look forward to reading more of his work.
Profile Image for Stefan.
403 reviews166 followers
November 29, 2012
“Magic is the new nuke.” That’s how one member of the military describes the biggest change to our reality yet: overnight, random people are waking up with powerful magical abilities. Some can control water or fire. Some are necromancers. Some can heal people or create magical gates to other places.

The powers controlled by these “Latent” individuals have such immense potential, both for good and evil, that the U.S. government is practically forced to co-opt them. After the McGauer-Linden Act is passed, people who “Manifest” magical powers have to turn themselves in. No exceptions. “Selfers” who practice unlawful magic are hunted down mercilessly and disappear from view.

Army officer Oscar Britton is attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Command and helps hunt down Selfers, but when he suddenly Manifests a rare and forbidden form of magic, the hunter becomes the hunted…

Please read the entire review here on my site Far Beyond Reality!
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 6 books2,016 followers
May 2, 2016
An interesting mix of modern normal days & magic. Suddenly people are becoming magic users & our modern governments try to put them in their place which is a huge problem both physically & socially. It was personally divisive for many, too. The author really captured those themes well. The plot was good too with a lot of action & some good characters.

Unfortunately, the overall writing wasn't quite up to speed. I had a lot of trouble getting into the book as the pace was too frantic. Most fight scenes (there were a lot) were fast & brutal, but just didn't seem real. I had a lot of trouble figuring out who was doing what & how they got into various positions. Some words were poorly chosen - sometimes just misused. Not too often, but it was one more thing that kept me from fully engaging, especially in the first half of the book.

Overall, it was a good story from a fertile imagination & well thought out in many respects. I believe this was the author's first book, so I expect he'll get a lot better.
Profile Image for Ms. Nikki.
1,054 reviews285 followers
September 29, 2015
The main character, Britton, kept making mistake after mistake. Eventually those decisions turned into idiocy. He was very unlikable, all the way up to the end of the book. The author pushes you to believe in the lies that are told by the government Britton worked for and then turns around and uses anamolies to their advantage. Too many types of magical users and the voice of the story is so "blah." I had to skim to finish it. Not for me.
Profile Image for Bastard.
42 reviews56 followers
March 12, 2012
http://bastardbooks.blogspot.com/2012...

A few months ago author Mark Lawrence asked in the SFFWorld forums, "What was the last fantasy book that mattered to you?" A question that has stayed with me since, as I haven't found an easy answer for it. Then came the recently released debut by Myke Cole, Control Point first of the Shadow Ops series, and the elusive question was answered.

Some humans have started to manifest supernatural abilities, including some deemed dangerous to society. Oscar Britton is an army officer tasked, along with his unit, to support members of the Supernatural Operation Corps as they go after a couple of kids that have been manifesting some of the aforementioned dangerous abilities. He is confronted with the harsh reality of what it means to be an individual with these sorts of abilities, many of them who are incapable of controlling them, and the inevitability of being hunted down because of it. When Oscar himself starts to manifest one of the prohibited abilities he decides to run instead of handing himself to the mercy of the law. What follows is a series of events which will force Oscar to challenge the core of his beliefs as he experiences a world beyond what he has ever imagined.

Control Point is written in third person limited following the protagonist Oscar Britton. I'm having a bit of a tough time on how to classify the book specifically, though the initial impression of the novel would lead you to believe it to be an Urban Fantasy. I think it would be a mistake to do so as I think the best way to describe it would be as a Modern Military Fantasy which indeed contains some elements found in Urban Fantasy alongside Sci-Fi and High Fantasy. The closest I can think of is E.E. Knight's Vampire Earth series, though that one takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Needless to say that I very much enjoyed the novel, but certainly there were a few things that intruded into that enjoyment, though overall quite minor. First, the initial portion of the story failed to grab me as I hoped. It does have a good action sequence, but I wasn't identifying with the main character and his personal struggles. Interestingly enough, it's these struggles that become the biggest strength later on. Another was that even though the action sequences were exciting, I found some portions of it hard to follow as I was having a bit of trouble with some of the depiction of the abilities and who was performing what. This was mainly true in the first action sequence and in the final one. First one because we just got introduced into this world, and the final one because it really was a complex battle with many characters involved. Lastly, in a few occasions from one paragraph to another there were abrupt scene changes which could have used better transitions, particularly true when they occurred right after characters were interacting.

That said, Control Point is quite an awesome read. Good balance between the action and the drama which keeps the book moving along even during the slow portions. The military portions, which is most of it, has a very authentic feel, even if some liberties have been taken to include the fantastical. I know some will be concerned about the use of acronyms and the military jargon, but even though they are indeed abundant, in my opinion Cole made a good effort to make it clear to the reader without sacrificing the pace with unnecessary explanations. Book also includes a glossary which helps immensely.

It's easy to say that Control Point was just a heck of a fun ride, with lots of explosions and action. So I'll go ahead and say it. Aside from what I depicted above, loved some of the action sequences, particularly ones that included tactical coordination.

Oscar Britton is not a character that really stands out, and early on I wasn't identifying with him. He can be damn frustrating at times. Even so, this plays to what I consider the biggest strength of the book, and what has me recommending it whenever I can. After I was done with Control Point , I closed my eyes and all I could see was some sort of cage deathmatch with Oscar Britton right in the middle of a free-for-all of ideas and themes we encountered throughout; all of them inflicting damage to Britton's core values and convictions. Even some that should have been allies were working against each other. Questions of duty, following command, humanism, racism, inhuman scientific research, experimentation, friendship, bureaucracy, red tape, discrimination, abuse, self-importance, self-fulfilling prophesies, best interest of, morality, slavery, ethics, self identity, betrayal, treason, sacrifice, manipulation, brainwashing, blackmail, power, loss of innocence, trust, torture, peer pressure, bullying, genocide, self-preservation, doing what's right, what's the right thing to do, among various others all pressed upon our main character in tough and morally complex situations.

Britton was told to defend himself against the big angry lion in a setting resembling what Lord of the Flies could have "matured" into with access to vast resources, technology, and magical powers. It's really a story of Oscar constantly redefining not only himself, but how he perceives the world and his role and duty in it, and doing some ass kicking in the process. Well, when he wasn't getting his kicked.

Through all of Oscar's dilemmas, it's the idea that these problems are not merely something foreign to everyone or exclusive to military people what I liked the most. Also, the idea that sometimes one's life is not the greatest sacrifice one makes when one joins a war, but that at times one has to sacrifice core values and beliefs to do what's right, or for the greater good, or for the benefit of someone else; sometimes simply in the name of duty. I think anyone who has cared for someone can understand these sacrifices when one does them for their benefit, even if in a smaller scale.

Once again, I find it inevitable to bring up E.E. Knight's Vampire Earth series as many of the same struggles it's main character, David Valentine, faces mirror those of Oscar. Completely different books and characters, but for those looking into military fiction with a combination of sci-fi and fantasy, then these two are well worth the read.

Those struggles of character aside, the world which has been created is quite awesome and full of potential. We've but experienced a small sample of it, as the core of the action is rather contained, but the glimpses we've seen out there and its possibilities are things we can look forward to with some enthusiasm. Don't know what the focus of the following novels will be, and how it'll affect the scope of the perceived setting, but certainly curious.

Peter V. Brett says, "Black Hawk Down meets The X-Men...military fantasy like you've never seen it before." Can't come up with anything better than that. True to his word, that's precisely what you found here, with the caveat that Control Point does distinguish itself from them. As such, it's one novel that I recommend just about anyone to try, and a one that comic book readers would not want to miss; great world with engaging personal conflict amongst a fantastical military setting, with an authentic feel.  Control Point is a very strong debut for Myke Cole, and can't wait to read more of the Shadow Ops series.
Profile Image for Justin.
381 reviews127 followers
January 5, 2012
http://staffersmusings.blogspot.com/2...

Ever read a novel and say... I can't say anything bad about it?  That's pretty much the case with Myke Cole's debut novel Shadow Ops: Control Point.  It's not a great novel; it lacks the artistic flair of something by K.J. Parker or the deep emotional resonance of something like The Tiger's Wife (Obreht).  It is, however, a very good one that tells a compelling story connected to well conceived world building and substantial undercurrents.  After finishing it I'm flabbergasted that Ace decided to only release it in mass market paperback as I've read few novels that will appeal to such a broad spectrum of readers.

Control Point begins with a scene too familiar to the American mind -- school shooting.  In this case, the students are shooting fire.  Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.  They're latents, young people incapable of controlling in-born magical power, and because of it they've been marked for termination.

Oscar Britton, Cole's protagonist, is an officer attached to the military's Supernatural Operations Corps.  His mission is to bring order to a world gone mad.  An archetypal military officer, Britton believes in his government despite struggling to obey orders in conflict with his personal code.  Having read Cole's reflection on his time spent serving in Iraq, I can only venture a guess at the nascence of Britton's internal conflict.  When Britton suddenly manifests a power of his own, he's forced to reevaluate his conflict and his answer is to run.

He doesn't get very far and in that moment he becomes a part of Shadow Ops.  I won't say anymore as the revelation of where things go from there is a real treat.  Cole moves away from what resembles urban fantasy and into something wholly new.  Control Point isn't urban fantasy or military science fiction (I've seen it referred to as both), but rather a blending of the two -- military urban fantasy.  It's a combination I've not seen before and one that works because of Cole's authentic point of view as an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

To have a discussion about the novel, it's almost mandatory to know something about Cole himself.  He did three tours in Iraq -- some as a security contractor and some as a Coast Guard officer.  He's served as a government civilian, working Coun­tert­er­rorism and Cyber War­fare and he was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill.  Talk to him for a minute and his passion for service is palpable.  Given that, I was stunned by the skeptical lens by which he examines government and those who serve it.  The impetus for the novel begins with the question, what would the government do if magic existed and it was illegal?  Cole's answer is: establish a secret government agency to control it and use it for its own purposes.

Ok, so maybe that's not so much of a leap.  But, beyond that the core of Cole's novel is the conflict of duty and mortality and self-preservation and self-sacrifice.  He forces Britton to make choices about where duty ends -- at what point has the government asked you, as an individual, to do too much to your own humanity to continue?  Taking it a step further, he asks at what point is it your responsibility to fight against the establishment asking you to do those things?  Cole tries to answer these moral riddles, but in so doing admits the answers are as elusive as right and wrong in a world gone gray.

While all of these themes operate beneath the story, the primary take away is that Shadow Ops: Control Point is an absolute blast to read.  Oscar Britton is a fallible, modern character, and Cole surrounds him with a vibrant cast.  The plot won't be confused for a twisty thriller, but it gives a creative world and dynamic characters the space to shine, which they absolutely do.

I received my ARC for Control Point back in October, started it the same day, and finished it two days after.  If you're a lover of fantasy, comic books (X-Men parallels are prevalent), and/or video games, my advice is to run, don't walk, to your nearest bookseller and buy a copy on February 1.  I predict Myke Cole's debut is going to be a monster success -- don't make me wrong.
Profile Image for Alissa.
590 reviews84 followers
October 17, 2022
“You’re always under someone’s thumb, Scylla. That’s life. You always have a boss.”
Profile Image for Emily .
711 reviews72 followers
June 4, 2018
This book had potential but it's all action and military and not especially character driven. The main character is a whiny, impulsive, unlikable guy and by the end I was really over him. Control Point also had too many plot holes for me - for example... I would also like the book to have explained why some magic was prohibited but not others. Anyway - I didn't love it, but if you like books that read like action movies (with unlikable characters) you might like it.
Profile Image for Nimrod Daniel.
143 reviews257 followers
April 12, 2020
This book was on my radar for a long time, its premise sounds very appealing and somewhat resembles X-Men, so I knew I should pick this one. But unfortunately the execution of this book is somewhat disappointing and I considered DNFing it more than once.
I listened to the audible version, and as we all know - that's what could make or break a book.
Even though the narrator is doing a decent voice acting, but I must admit that I'm not very fond of
his performance.

I'll break my opinion as follows:

Writing style - 3/5.
The writing style is ok, but I didn't like the dialogues (and the narrator just emphasized that).

Characterization - 3.25/5
Oscar Britton, the protagonist, was pretty well portrayed, his goblin friend was ok, but most of the others felt quite flat.

Fantastic elements - 3.75/5
The magic system is pretty interesting, and I like its take on superpowers, it's a bit like X-Men, but unfortunately that's where the comparison between the two ends.

Plot - 3.25/5 (3 for the first half, 3.5 for the second).
After a thrilling opening the plot goes not in a good direction a First half was somewhat boring and I was on the verge of DNFing it, gladly the second half was slightly better.

Overall - 3.25/5
It's not a bad book, definitely not a good one, but mostly disappointing a one.
Considering it's Myke Cole's debut I might give book 2 a chance.
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