Breach Zone by Myke Cole
Time for a guest review. Here’s @MrSamStrong taking a look at Breach Zone by Mike Cole. Take it away Sam. (Please note: Breach Zone is the third book in a trilogy. As such, this review most definitely includes spoilers for Control Point and Fortress Frontier. You have been warned.)
The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.
When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…
Your choices define you. If there’s one message that comes through in all three volumes of Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops trilogy that would be it. With the introduction of the McGauer-Linden Act, to the events that followed Oscar Britton coming up latent, to him releasing Scylla from solitary, to Alan Bookbinder’s epic journey across the Source, choices have been made on the basis of fear. As in the real world, this puts an enormous amount of pressure on society. Breach Zone is the resulting explosion.
We pick up soon after the conclusion of the last book. For their efforts in saving FOB Frontier, Harlequin and Bookbinder have been promoted out of the way, the former becoming the media friendly face of the SOC and the latter working with the Coast Guard. Both are soon plunged into the action when a series of “breaches” appear across America, the most notable being right in the middle of the financial district of New York. Harlequin’s perspective gets the most chapters and there are maybe half as many from Bookbinder’s. We do get to see inside the heads of other characters, on occasion, and this grants them that little bit of extra depth.
Bookbinder, a particular favourite of mine, really gets to shine. He’s had his origin story and now we get to see the results of his reforging. He’s equal parts commanding and sympathetic. Rather than riding roughshod over those who show weakness, he inspires them to be better. Really though, this is Harlequin’s book. We get a big old chunk of back story, interspersed with the main plot, that gives us a much clearer picture of who this man is and how he’s connected to certain other characters that have popped up from time to time. And here we get back to choice again. The decisions Harlequin makes (and doesn’t make) during his career with the SOC are so tightly bound with the events occurring in the present that, by the time we get to the very end, every last thing feels earned.
It’s also worth noting that, while the protagonists are male, women are incredibly well represented. We’ve got female soldiers, police officers, sorcerers, coast guards and more. Cole makes no big deal of this. They’re just there – same as the men – getting the job done and fighting to the last.
And that job? Good grief, the portrayal of combat in this novel (in all of Cole’s novels) remains breathtaking and horrifying in equal measure. Both previous books had action in spades and, once again, Cole doesn’t disappoint. We get combat at sea, in the air, on land, all described with just enough attention to detail that allows the pace to stay absolutely breakneck. Add to that the seamless integration of magic and, well, it’s really quite good. On the other hand, Breach Zone is effectively a novel about a siege. Much of Harlequin’s energy is spent just holding the line, all the while desperately seeking help from a military that is mostly occupied elsewhere. All of this builds to a climax that goes far beyond expectation, both in the scale of its action and the level of power displayed by the sorcerers, but also because it comes about through choices the protagonists make. A lot of books allow the situation to define them, but not here.
So there we have it. The trilogy is done and I’m more than satisfied with where we’ve ended up. I can’t wait to see what Myke Cole publishes next.
Breach Zone is published by Headline and is available from 28th January 2014.