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Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
Cover Artist: Michael Komarck
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Ace Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425256367
Date: 29 January 2013 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

The Great Reawakening gave special powers to a few people. Others fear the power of these latents. Some powers are so feared that they are banned. Oscar Britton has the power to open gates between our world and the Source. He has been used and abused by the SOC. In Control Point, Britton broke free and set upon his own destiny. In order to guarantee freedom, he had to kill the other portamancer. In doing so, he starts a chain of events that jeopardizes the men and women manning the U.S. base in the Source. Now he wants to end the monopoly of power that SOC has, at any cost, he just needs some new allies.

Alan Bookbinder had risen through the ranks of command by pushing paper. When his latency appears, he is drafted into the SOC and shipped to the Source. He maintains his rank but is little more than a figurehead on base. When Britton escapes and kills the other portamancer, Fortress Frontier is cut off. With no new supplies and the Goblin war season fast approaching Bookbinder knows he has to do something. A desperate mission to another country's base holds the only hope, if a former desk jockey can lead his team across a thousand miles of hostile territory.

Fortress Frontier is the second book in the Shadow Ops series. It is not the best starting point for new readers, but author Cole does a fair job of explaining the basics so that new readers can follow the main action without going through Control Point. The glossary of terms in the back helps to fill in the nonstandard acronyms that tend to develop in any military or bureaucratic setting. One of the more difficult transitions is from one set of acronyms to another. I had to keep reminding myself that SOC was Supernatural Operations Corps and not Standard Occupational Classification system.

The Shadow Ops series mashes superpowers fantasy and military science fiction. The superpowers seem magical but are biological based. The action is typical military science fiction adventure. Although you might be skeptical, take my word, it works.

I had a strange confluence of reading around this month. Right after I finished Fortress Frontier, I started Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. It is also based on humans Superpowers, but Sanderson takes a much different path. The main similarities are that both books are page turners and not everyone who gains powers can handle that power without being corrupted. In Fortress Frontier, Oscar Britton is very powerful and he loses some sense of self. In losing his connections to himself and others he becomes less human and susceptible to corruption. Bookbinder is also very powerful, but is so connected to those around him by his mission that he doesn’t slip into thinking he is more important than anyone else.

Although Fortress Frontier closes up most of the plots, there are few more to explore. This is a good thing. Cole knows how to balance a series. He brings closure to some plots. Sadly, too many authors don't know how to do this. My only confusion was in the beginning as the story opens with a new character while I was expecting to see Britton and his team at the beginning.

I look forward to more action, and the revelation of new powers in Breech Zone.

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