First off, this is the best thing Cole has published to date. And it’s not really close. If you’ve read the first novel, Control Point, you might have been a little frustrated with the character development or found the pace a little choppy. For those who’ve read Fortress Frontier, you might remember the part that linked the first book and the second felt a little spackled together to provide the cohesion that he needed without compromising the intimate story of Col. Alan Bookbinder. They were the kind of flaws that most anyone has in their early work. The result were very good novels, but not the sum total of what Cole was capable of.
Breach Zone has none of these problems. It is, for all intents and purposes, the natural culmination of the series. Not just in terms of plot and theme, but in terms of Myke Cole the writer. He’s come full circle, mastering character in the ways I could only hope he would three years ago. He’s more adventurous with his structure and thus his pacing, using flashbacks to interweave a narrative that reveals information at the right times. He’s writing like an author comfortable in his abilities, daring to take on things he was heretofore unwilling. This is a novel with romance, regret, failure, and betrayal. And it’s executed brilliantly.
If this is the first time you’ve read about Myke Cole, hard to believe if you read this blog, his novels are all about special individuals around the world who came up “Latent”. These individuals have manifested terrifying powers that changed the face of warfare forever. Being a former intelligence officer, with three tours in Iraq, Cole comes at the subject from an intimate place. He seamlessly blends the realities of the modern military with the imagination of D&D to mind blowing result.
In Breach Zone, the conflict hinted at in previous books comes to fruition. Scylla, a negramancer of astonishing power, has figured out how to bridge the planes of reality. Pouring demons and goblins and other mythical creatures into the streets of New York City, the only person who can stop her is Harlequin, a career operator barely tolerated by his own troops.
Harlequin, an aeromancer, served as the primary foil to Control Point’s protagonist, Oscar Brittion. Where Britton was willing to do the right thing, even if it meant rebelling against the military he loved, Harlequin believed in the system. The comparison between the pair of characters is absolutely at the root of the narrative that began in the first novel and comes to a logical, satisfying conclusion in Breach Zone. The pair of characters serve as a conversation Cole has had with himself, how do I reconcile my personal beliefs with those expressed by the organization I serve in? Cole answers it by way of suggesting that, like most things in life, there’s a compromise between the two extreme position.
To me, Breach Zone is Myke Cole’s coming out party. He’s not a one note writer with linear plots and wiz bang action sequences. He’s someone who dares to be better every time he puts pen to page and it’s showing in his work. Am I biased? Yeah, a bit. Take all this as you will. I’m on board and listening to the sweet music of the Cole train (bad pun!).