Myke Cole’s initial installment in the SHADOW OPS series is an interesting read. The urban fantasy market is heavily populated with pretty, sassy heroines who are in love with this vampire or that werewolf. In Control Point, Cole takes a completely different approach to adding magic to the world we live in.
Oscar Britton is a conflicted man. His childhood was difficult, and in the Army he seems to have found a place that makes sense for him. Oscar is a junior Officer working with a Special Operations group that supports magically-gifted government agents in their efforts to track down and bring into custody other gifted individuals who are not following the laws about how magic is to be controlled and used. This is a high stress, high risk assignment that demands a lot of Oscar, in terms of both his physical prowess and his mental toughness.
After a particularly difficult mission where Oscar’s sense of right and wrong has been sorely tested, his life takes a profound turn for the worse. Oscar manifests a gift for magic that is not only extremely unexpected, but also extremely illegal if he is caught. With his moral outlook already damaged by his interactions with the Aeromancer called Harlequin during the most recent op, Oscar does the worst thing possible: he runs from the authorities.
Myke Cole’s development of magic, with different schools and good descriptions of what they can do, is admirable. He’s clearly taken some time to create a workable system. Coupling that with the world-building, you get a setting that is easy to buy into. Even the environmental conditions of the training camps and forward deployed areas that Cole uses are well done.
For me, the hard part with Control Point was Oscar Britton. For a man who has spent considerable time working in and growing from a military background, some of his choices and his inability to adhere to the needs of the mission over his personal outlook are difficult to accept. Basically, Oscar’s ego is too big for the background that he comes from and his continual fight against the system flies completely in the face of his supposed background as an Officer in Army Special Operations. His underlying lack of respect for authority doesn’t make sense with the rest of who he is – he would have been weeded out before ever getting the chance to serve in such a role.
Setting aside my fundamental dislike for Oscar Britton, the story is interesting. I give Myke Cole high marks for world-building and for the supporting cast who flesh out the story. Oscar’s love interest, Therese, is drawn to her need to help others in spite of her lack of trust in the organization she will be required to embrace. Other characters find meaning in themselves as they discover applications for their talents and gifts, even if it was not what they imagined they would ever do.
I don’t yet know if I want to read the next book in the SHADOW OPS series. While I really enjoyed Myke Cole’s world-building, I loathe Oscar Britton intensely because we are both soldiers and I have no respect for him. For someone else, this may not be a show-stopper, and this series could be a lot of fun since it does have a wonderful mix of excellent setting and high-paced action.