Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole plunges us straight back into his world of military magic, developing the cast from book one whilst introducing us to some new faces.
The book begins with new face, Alan Bookbinder, a colonel in the US military (placing him close to the top of the pecking order for those unsure of military ranks), but more of a pen pusher than on active duty. His bureaucratic duties earn him disapproving glances from other operatives, as not having been in the line of fire is deemed less prestigious than his colonel rank suggests.
One night Alan suffers a horrendous nightmare in which he feels a drowning sensation, waking up to find the feeling hasn’t left him. This nightmare is pre-emptive of manifesting a magical power, although no-one is quite sure what type of magic he possesses, or whether his magic will remain latent and insignificant.
Regardless, Alan is sent to the FOB (Forward Operating Base) frontier in the Source World to hone his magic and ensure the safety of his family. Despite his colonel rank he holds less power in the camp hierarchy, being undermined at every turn by the camp commandant Taylor from book one. He is introduced to the members of the Shadow Coven, as well as Oscar Britton (book one’s protagonist), with the starting events of this book taking place just before book one’s climax.
We then get to see the ending events of book one from Bookbinder’s perspective, with the FOB being cut off from the Home Plane with no way back, stranding a whole base without the ability to replenish supplies. Forced from his desk into the line of fire, Bookbinder assembles a team to seek out a Portamancer to send them home, leading them out into dangerous terrain and determined to see his family once again.
Alan was a really interesting protagonist, as we get an insight into his desperation to be reunited with his family, as well as his determination to protect the men he feels responsible for as their ranking officer. Despite this he is not arrogant, instead being exceedingly humble and modest in his attempts to restore order to the FOB. He rises to the challenges set out for him with admirable courage, becoming a force to be reckoned with.
As well as Bookbinder’s perspective we are reintroduced to Oscar Britton, with his perspective reuniting us with the characters from the previous book, such as Therese, Simon, Swift and Sarah. Now on the run, we get to see his desperate attempts to change the societal order by reaching out to underground groups that launch frequent attacks on the president’s regime.
I really enjoyed this second book from Myke Cole, as his combination of military and magic are written in such a way that it appeals to a wide audience. Having not read a lot of military fiction, I find that this series makes it accessible to those who might not understand a lot of military terminology, making the genre fun. Admittedly I still maintain the frustration from book one at having to look in the glossary for the terminology, but I still enjoyed the book.
We get a much bigger insight into the Source World throughout this book, as we are introduced to a whole host of creatures that are all desperate to sink their teeth into Oscar or Alan. These creations are truly unique and scary at times, very well-crafted by Cole. However, I would have liked to have seen a little more character development where witch Scylla was concerned, as she is continually built up as an antagonist and then brushed aside for something else.
Overall, a fantastic second addition to the series, and I can’t wait to find out where book three will take us, as the US political world is left severely shaken as this book draws to a close.
An excellent addition to the series, Fortress Frontier really builds upon the world created in the first book. We get more of an insight into the Source World, as well as an indication of the political conflicts back home, resonating with the current military warzones. There were still some elements that could have been developed more, but I’m expecting these in the next instalment.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Control Point
- Fortress Frontier
- Breach Zone
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