Two members of The Ranting Dragon staff, Stephan and Garrett, were able to get their hands on ARCs of one of our most anticipated books for January, Control Point by debuting author Myke Cole. A military fantasy whose premise can be summarized as “X-Men crossed with Black Hawk Down,” Control Point is one hell of a roller coaster ride with very little down time.
The bigger conflict
Don’t let that X-Men comparison throw you off, though. Modern geek culture often takes us to the beginning of a time when people start developing superpowers. Just think of the various examples: your average superhero comic—of course including X-Men—as well as various television shows like Heroes, The 4400, and Smallville. In Control Point, too, Cole introduces us to a world where most everyone has the potential to have become “Latent”: develop magical abilities. However, the conflicts that define many similar stories have seemingly already been fought. Before the time of Control Point, the Geneva Amendment had been changed to include magic, and the various governments have taken control.
Beneath the surface, however, a much greater conflict is still brewing—a conflict that Cole manages to capture with amazing skill. Enter Lieutenant Oscar Britton, an Army man who has seen firsthand what happens to Selfers, Latents who don’t turn themselves in to the US Army. When Oscar himself suddenly comes Latent of a prohibited magic school, he knows his options: run or die. Through the eyes of Oscar, who is, refreshingly, the only viewpoint character in Control Point, we meet a world with new rules in which the militaries of the world controls sorcerers as if they are tools and slaves.
A question of morality
A military man at heart, Oscar’s viewpoint are a device well-employed by Cole to show the true depths of the conflict. After all, isn’t the US military supposed to be the good side? But what about his rights as a citizen who didn’t choose to come Latent? Oscar’s and many other personalities are portrayed with great skill and plausibility, their struggles realistic and easy to identify with. From start to finish, the inner conflict of Oscar—and ultimately the greater conflict of the book—is written elegantly, sucking the reader into the middle of it, trying their best to help Oscar figure a way out of the bad situations he’s gotten himself into. The moral issues in Cole’s well-crafted world are intriguing and intense.
Stephan couldn’t help but read a lot of Cole, a military man himself, in his main character and the story at large. The prose is succinct and to the point, like a military briefing, filled with military terms and slang. This writing assists in creating an extraordinary atmosphere as well as speeds up the pace of the story, hardly ever slowing it down. However, it seems brave and admirable that a man like Cole would write a novel that questions governments and military. This, we can only applaud.
Garrett had the opportunity to chat with Myke a great deal during New York Comic Con 2011, and much of Control Point reflect the opinions he expressed during that time. The military is both a curse and a blessing; they may have done some disreputable things in the past, but they also have the potential to do great good, and this mindset is reflected greatly within Control Point. It is a book which greatly reflects the quality of the man who wrote it, and both are of the highest caliber.
Imaginative in its simplicity
The magic itself is well-crafted also. It is captivating in its simplicity—the Latent can develop one of a possible nine abilities, four of which are prohibited—yet delightfully creative in its application—every ability comes with a series of skills, and can be used for endless possibilities. The real value, and in it Cole’s real imaginative powers, is in the battles. Imagine military operations and infiltrations where the soldiers are also sorcerers and can fight with both conventional and unconventional means, narrated through Cole’s impressive eye for factual detail. It’s bloody amazing!
Why should you read this novel?
Control Point is an intense masterwork of military fantasy that grips you from start to finish until your eyes practically devour the words as you approach the thrilling ending. With the spectacular world Cole created and the significant amount of foreshadowed questions yet unanswered, the potential for the rest of the Shadow Ops series is substantial. Whether you’re a fan of superhero fiction or military thrillers—heck, even if you like your epic fantasy with elves and goblins—we absolutely recommend you give Control Point a read when it comes out on January 31. The year has just begun, and here already is a debut that will be hard to top.
Stephan & Garrett received review copies of Control Point courtesy of Ace and Myke Cole.