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3.6 out of 5 stars79
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 18 January 2014
This is a very intriguing mix, the story of what would have happened if Harry Potter hadn't realised he was a magician until he became a military helicopter pilot. This draws heavily on the X-Men mythos, with a society that hates and fears the Latents - humans who have developed magical powers such as necromancy, elemental manipulation and - in the case of our protagonist, Oscar Britten - 'portomancy' - the ability to travel anywhere on Earth, and between dimensions, at will. Stamping home the X-Men influence is the Magneto like character we meet halfway through the book, who considers Latents the next step of evolution, and wishes to enslave humankind.
But the author brings his own knowledge of military process to bear and a healthy imagination, giving us a dystopian US background, another dimension where Earth is at war with goblins and every other magical inhabitant, and a backstory of Native Americans fighting for secession with their own magical powers.
I think this book would appeal to Tom Clancy type readers, who want fast action, gritty heroes, and sexy ladies. For the typical fantasy reader, it may be a little on the 'action packed' side, a little two dimensional. The author does show fantastic confidence for a debut; clearly creating a large universe and background with plenty of potential for future sequels.
However my main bugbear was with the main character; much is made of the writer's military background, and yet his main character is a soldier who is completely incapable of following any order without questioning it, even before he develops his powers. Whilst I think this is done to emphasise Oscar's moral core (this is a US military we don't normally see in fiction, effectively enforcing a police state) I couldn't help but think Oscar would have been more likely to have been in the glasshouse than at the controls of a helicopter if this was his attitude to military discipline. I would rather have seen a gradual decline in his desire to follow orders. This also created a pretty repetitive narrative to the novel; Oscar gets orders, Oscar rebels, Oscar gets put in his place, repeat. This makes it feel like a very long time until we get to the heart of darkness. The other thing that irritates me is the seemingly uniform attitude to Latents. When Oscar manifests, he runs to his parents and then his best friend. If my best friend turned up at my door with 'mutant powers' I would think it was incredibly cool; everyone in this America immediately panics and calls the authorities, who they believe will *kill* their best friend / son, etc. That was a bit too much of a stretch of the imagination for me.
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on 6 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In my mind's eye I picture the army as a place that takes people and moulds them into soldiers. People become trained to the level were instinct kicks in at times of crisis and orders are followed without question. As an ex-soldier himself I imagine that author Myke Cole would know far better than me and in his military science fiction novel `Control Point' he paints the life of solider much different than I imagined. True this is a world where people are waking up with magical powers and being coerced into joining the force, but are those trained to defend us really as introverted and questioning as this bunch?

Lieutenant Oscar Britton is the main character in `Control Point', a lifelong military man he is trained to take out illegal magical users, only to become one himself. The book starts off running with some great action set pieces combining realistic warfare with added magical powers such as wind, fire and earth. Once the book settles down, problems begin to appear. Oscar is military through and through, so why is he always questioning authority? I always believed that you were promoted to Lieutenant by buying into the system, not constantly bucking it. Things begin poorly as Oscar goes on a mini rampage, although he has spent years fighting others who have done this - he is well aware of the consequences. The next part of the book has him being trained to use his powers, but he is constantly resisting. I can't imagine a man so ingrained in army life would act like this.

The problems of army life versus civilian attitudes continue throughout the book, vast chunks of the training segments read more like `Beverly Hills 90210' than army camp. It is a real shame that the relationships appear so teen angsty as the idea of a world burgeoning with magic is a great one. Cole is able to write some fantastic fight scenes, the more restricted and intense the better. It is just the relationship soap opera that links these segments together than rings false and drags the book into the average.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this! The world Myke Cole builds is a very entertaining one. The way the reader learns about how magical powers manifesting has changed the modern world and how the authorities try to deal with the issue is very convincing. Each chapter begins with an extract or quote from a training manual on magic use or from a pop culture source. These extracts/quotes really help the reader get lost in the world created. The authors military background really shines through as he weaves real military terms, harsh language and all, (helpful glossary at the back) with the new magic based military terms that quickly sound just as real. Control Point is pretty heavy on action and zipped along at a pretty quick pace for me. I did have three main grumbles that stopped me giving it the full five stars: (1) The main character's point of view as he learns to control his powers with the military's "help" changes just too often, it seemed like every other chapter he was changing who he agreed with. At first this worked really well as you get the idea he is wrestling with his morals, situation and military training. However, this happens so often it does become a little annoying. (2) The ending feels very rushed which leaves it open to sequels but sort of spoils all the world/rule building effort put in. (3) The chapter lengths are a bit mixed, a couple of very short ones might then be followed by a massive beast of a chapter. I just find that a bit annoying is all, I prefer it when chapters are a similar length throughout or give plenty of chances for a logical "put-down-point". Overall though I really enjoyed this book. The cover quote of 'Black Hawk Down meets X-Men' seems very accurate to me.Fortress Frontier (Shadow Ops 2)
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Control Point is the story of Oscar Britton, a military operative in an alternative world where people are coming up "latent" developing magical abilities. Britton, clearly a man troubled by the role he's being asked to play stopping these people when they develop these skills and capturing or eliminating them, finds himself part of the problem when he develops "portamancy" skills - an ability to open up gateways between worlds or dimensions.

The book is very fast paced and was a fairly easy read. I wasn't too surprised to find the author was former US military himself, the writing shows a real knowledge of the subject. He's also a self proclaimed D&D nut and this story has seen him combine his real world experience with that interest to create an interesting "what if". The approach very much reflected the authors US military origins in it's style when the action got going, though is a balance here not just non-stop mindless violence and it leaned more to something a military fan would truly enjoy than something for the more traditional fantasy fan like myself. I struggled to relate to the main character, I could understand his struggles and sympathise but I didn't entirely like the way he came across. Perhaps because he was written as a guy who'd been more soldier than person for a long time.

The book is certainly interesting. The idea of magic developing but not entirely randomly, with a number of schools of magic deriving from the range of possible abilities was interesting and reflected our love of categorising and pigeon holing everything, even things still poorly understood.

The desire for our governments to control anything that might give people power, or could be seen as a danger to liberty (or indeed to their own institutions) is strongly reflected in this book as is the struggle someone who's always supported that system might have when they find themself on the wrong side of it.

There's also a strong metaphor here for our own worlds troubles. We find other worlds we don't know so we can't help ourselves considering it's inhabitants with their natural "latency" as a threat and thus justifying a desire to control their world. Trying to control places you don't understand, not understanding it's people and giving them no reason to understand or relate to you and then dealing with the consequence when they fight back? It felt like the author was writing from experience.

So overall this wasn't a book I loved, it wasn't really written in a style i was entirely comfortable but it was quite well written and for action/fantasy there were lots of ideas and things to get you thinking. Overall a promising start to the series and something fans of military fiction and fantasy might well enjoy.
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on 25 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a rip-roaring story of magic in the American armed forces, let down somewhat by a general, rather wearing gungho attitude; a hero, Oscar Britton, who is what they call a 'latent' (someone suddenly manifesting magical powers) who vacillates so much that he should be spinning on the spot. Oscar is first seen as an Army Lieutenant, disputing the treatment of teenage latents with an Officer of SOC (Supernatural Operations Corps). Later the same night his talents emerge, in his case portamancy (the opening of 'gates' into other locations)and as this is a prohibited latency he panics and runs.
Of course he is caught and forced to work and train for SOC with a crew of other misfits. His army training disposes him to like the training; his main gripe is he gets no respect and he spends most of the book wondering whether to try to escape or make the best of a bad job. And lack of self-knowledge means that when he screws up he screw up big.
Secondary characters are interesting: Swift, Scylla, Therese, Truelove and Downer, the inimitable Marty and the appalling Fitzsimmons seem more fleshed out than Oscar. Dialogue was generally pretty clunky and there was a lot of repetitive soul-searching that slowed things down without adding much to the reader's knowledge.
The book is exciting, and I enjoyed the training sequences as much as anything. Magic here is far from gentle and morality very skewed, but the story is readable and the ending was suitable and ensured 'portals' to more of the series. Not sure if I'd take this one further, I prefer my urban fantasy less militarised.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
'Control Point' gets off to a rip-snorting start, and if it could have maintained the pace and the atmosphere throughout then this would be a five-star review. Sadly, it gets a bit bogged down about two-thirds of the way through, when the protagonist takes anguished debate on the morals of his situation beyond dithering and into plain shilly-shally repetition. Despite that, this is an excellent start to a new sci-fi / supernatural military series.

Many of the concepts may be borrowed, but Myke Cole has skilfully blended them into a coherent and credible universe. It's one a lot like our own, except that folks are popping up with magic talents and black ops units DO exist inside the US army, staffed with sorcerers, coming to terms with their talents and the fact that they're fighting on all fronts. The army has to cope with human magicians running wild, and then there's the offworld action, which takes place in the source of the magic. Here, in a setting which is plainly based on Afghanistan, the Army pushes into new territory and comes under constant attack from the indigenous peoples and their magical - previously mythical - beasts.
Amid all that, our hero has to come to terms with his new powers and how that has ripped apart his Army career, caused massive personal mayhem, and left him unsure of where he stands and who he's fighting for. Cole delivers a harsh but believable version of a military bootcamp and takes time over important details that often get missed, like sighting in a new weapon when it's issued. You really should take the time to study the glossary before diving into the story, because you'll enjoy it all the more if the military slang and acronyms make some kind of sense.
The first half romped along, but the hero keeps returning to his core dilemma - the same as many soldiers sent into dubious situations, he can't quite commit to killing for the reasons he's been given. it doesn't help, of course, that the Army has planted a bomb in his chest to keep him in check. A snappy set-up and an interesting moral debate. Not all soldiers are grunts, and an intelligent officer may well have trouble coming to terms with seemingly inconsistent orders. 'Just following orders' isn't an excuse for crimes against... aliens! It all just needed to move along a little faster. I also got weary of all the call-signs and weird nicknames; after a while I found myself longing for someone called Jones. Or Smith. Or John. But not Sillymander or somesuch.

However, 'Control Point' introduced some intriguing characters, and I was pleased that the baddest ass, meanest witch was indeed a woman - a brave move in a book as testosterone-soaked as this one.
The writing ain't fancy and some of the dialogue clunks a touch, but the action drives the plot forward and I didn't spend too much time concerned with Control Point's contribution to modern literature. Big guns: wild magic: beefy boys in big boots with bad attitudes.
On reflection, I haven't enjoyed a guns and ghouls book as much as this since the original Death's Head (Deaths Head 1)... which is a fair compliment. Roll on the sequel. And the next!

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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book that seeks to meld together military themed books and fantasy. I thought that this read really well for a first book in a series and does a good job of both setting the scene and getting you to invest in the characters. Oscar Britton is a US Army Lieutenant who is working on his career as a pilot when he works alongside the Supernatural Operations Corps, a branch of the military who have developed specific magical powers and use them to track down "selfers" - people who have manifested powers and run (thus being selfish).

This book introduces a place that the magic comes from and manages to integrate many different legends together in a logical way, especially as the back-story begins to flesh itself out. The characters are quite well fleshed out, though more time is given to those who are intended to be critical than others.

On the downside there were a few things that I didn't quite like
- The restrictions of the different schools of magic, I think that unless a future book ties down the source better then this will remain a grumble.
- The way Oscar doesn't always resonate with how he should be, I struggled with the idea that he would be beaten down so easily when faced down by his coven leader
- The ending; it felt a little rushed and, for me, closed down a few threads which could have been usefully used in the next book.

I enjoyed reading this and much of the fourth star is purely based on that. I would read another in the series as I think, despite the flaws, that this is a series that should soon find it's stride.
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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A little tip before I get into the actual review: read the glossary at the back of the book before you start the story. There's a lot of military jargon (as well as that of Myke Cole's own creation), so it'll help.

'Control Point' is gritty, gruesome and full of angst, and you can feel the author really having fun with the world he's created. It's incredibly imaginative, with its characters using their magic in various, creative ways, and little snippets of how the wider world has coped with magic's arrival. It reminds me a little of True Blood, with religion, government and society convulsing with change.

The main character, Oscar Britton, is perhaps not the easiest to sympathise with. His endless vacillation in opinion - army good, army bad - got a bit too repetitive for me (hence the angst), but the book was clever enough that its character weaknesses didn't really matter. I could have done without the Obligatory Love Interest, but I wouldn't say the author can't do female characters, as the character of Downer was the most likeable.

There's plenty of action throughout 'Control Point' and this is where Myke Cole really excels. Magic, technology and brute physical force combine and collide, and your eyes dart across the lines. And top points for the twist near the ending - I couldn't see it coming at all, and when it did, a little voice in me cried "no!".

Looking forward to the next instalment.
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on 18 August 2012
Control Point is one of a handful of urban fantasy novels which I have read. I was hesitant but it had a really good blurb and an awesome cover so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did.

Control Point is always moving, one moment the characters will be in a training session and next moment they are jumping to combat the latest pandemonium that happens to be erupting. The fight scenes are choreographed extremely well and flow from one moment to the next seamlessly.

The magic system is unique and works well with the modern setting of the book. The US government however doesn't allow anyone to use it outside of a regulated military environment but it seems that quite often people who are Latent ( magic user ) run out of fear and lack of understanding and the books is based around choices and how they impact the main protagonist.

All in all I really enjoyed it, fun read and book 2 is due out in February.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Myke Cole is trying to create a new genre, military science fiction. It's probably a reflection of the times we live in and the stuff we see on TV every night that is feeding the need for this type of fiction, UAV's taking out bad guys while the operator sits 10,000 miles away in America drinking a decaf Latte.

I enjoyed this book despite the fact that I didn't realise when I picked it up that there would be an element of magic in this book.

Not so much swords and sorcery but guns and sorcery. Still if you like your books to move along at a pace and fancy trying out a new genre from time to time, you could do worse than give this book a try.

A good read and definitely a movie/book franchise in the making.
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