Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday with Rachel Hunter, author of EMPYREAL FATE

Hello everyone,

I'd neglected to post this at the beginning of the month due to my bout of sunburn. However -- while this isn't specifically a 'Trailer' for Tuesday, this is somewhat of a Teaser, so I thought I'd share.

Rachel Hunter is a young author whose debut fantasy novel Empyreal Fate was published by Hydra Publications. Her backstory includes winning Minnesota state's Promising Young Writer's program in 2007, winning the Oklahoma Young Writer's Competition in her senior year of high school and having her first short story published in March of this year. Oh, and did I mention she's only eighteen? Empyreal Fate is the first in her Llathalan Annal series and judging from not only her previous accolades, but the attention she's getting from the media, she's a promising up-and-coming writer not only in the fantasy genre, but in fiction itself.

A few weeks back, she was interviewed on a local TV station in the state of Oklahoma. See what the hosts and Rachel had to say below. 



Rachel also wrote a guest blog on Indies Unlimited talking about her experience leading up to and during the interview. You can find that on the Indies Unlimited blog here.

If Rachel's story has peaked your interest, if her novel sounds interesting to you or you would just like to learn more about her, you can find her online at the various links below.

- Rachel Hunter -

If you would like to purchase a copy of Empyreal Fate, click on the links below (eBook: left; Paperback: right)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cover reveals for THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE and THE VENGEANCE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE by Rhiannon Frater

Hello everyone,

I apologize for my absence from this blog for pretty much the whole month. Long story short is that I got second-degree sunburn and was out of commission for two weeks recovering (I'll spare the grizzly details,) then I ended up having some other minor medical issues that were related to my preexisting condition, but I won't go into that either.

Anyhow, we're doing something different today -- a cover reveal! Exciting, huh?

The books in question are from the Vampire Bride series by Rhiannon Frater, explicitly for the first two novels in the series (The Tale of the Vampire Bride and The Vengeance of the Vampire Bride.) The books have had a long history with different covers (the first book had two covers before this change, the second had one.)

Upon its initial release, The Tale of the Vampire Bride had cover art created by Detra Munster.

First cover by Detra Munster
After some complaints from readers (which was specifically geared toward the first cover, which was deemed as looking like a 'young adult novel' or even as a 'comic book or manga,') she commissioned the services of Philip R. Rogers for its second reincarnation.

Second cover by Philip R. Rogers
The Vengeance of the Vampire Bride went through only one cover before the change. After Philip R. Rogers created the cover for The Tale of the Vampire Bride, he did the cover art for Vengeance.


Second cover by Philip R. Rogers
Regardless of the fact that the covers were done in a more traditionally-Gothic feel (without the stylized appearance that Detra Munster's artwork conveys to great and adored affect,) potential readers were again complaining about the cover and said they would not pick up the books because of it.

So... in late 2012, Rhiannon Frater decided to commission the services of photomanipulatory and digital artist Claudia McKinney of Phat Puppy Art. At Claudia's recommendation, Rhiannon arranged to have original photos taken for the new covers. I personally assisted Rhiannon in San Antonio, TX, where we met with model Megan Young and photographer Helena Cruz to create the new, re-envisioned versions of the Vampire Bride series. Witnessing the creation of the new covers (from the preliminary work of tailoring two dresses to fit the model, to driving to the location, to taking the pictures and then suggesting poses, lighting and other things for our very-skilled photographer) was an amazing experience. It's not very often you get to see the invention of a book's cover, much less the process that precedes the final creation of the cover.

So... you're probably wondering... what do these covers look like?

Look no further.

The Tale of the Vampire Bride

The Vengeance of the Vampire Bride

The recent trend in urban fantasy, paranormal and even some Gothic horror fiction has been the photomanipulated stock art covers. Claudia McKinney has made huge strides in the field of publishing by creating covers like the above, and along with Ashley Dawn of the Bookish Brunette and Brunette Designs (who did the cover artwork,) they have created a completely-overhauled exterior to the Vampire Bride series. From the moody backgrounds that are lush with mist and dark Gothic castles, to the exquisite model (Megan Young) who exudes an innocence found only in few, to the dominating force of the male model who portrays our ultimate hero on the Tale of the Vampire Bride cover, these books ooze Regency-era Goth, horror, mystique, fear and, most of all, capture the essence of what a novel about vampires really is.

But what about the inside, you ask?

Along with being a writer, a book reviewer, a website designer and a PR agent, I also format books. I have taken up the responsibility to redesign the inside of the Vampire Bride series to create a more old-world Gothic feel to them. Though these are not the final designs, these are close to what the inside pages will look like.
Title
 Diary
 Chapter Starts
A lot goes into the creation of a book, and that's not just the writing or the editing. From the preliminary cover ideas, to the actual design, to (in this case) finding a model and photographer and the actual photography that is involved, to the labor the cover artist has to do and then the design the formating artist has to do, creating a book is a lot of hard work, and to completely rehaul an entire series (even if it's only just two books as of now) takes a lot of effort on everyone's part.

The eBook covers for The Tale of the Vampire Bride and The Vengeance of the Vampire Bride go live today, August 20th. September 1rst will see the release of the paperbacks with not only the new covers, but the new formatting.


To purchase The Tale of the Vampire Bride and The Vengeance of the Vampire Bride , click on the links below.



If you enjoyed this post and are interested in commissioning the services of the artists above, or if you just want to see who they are and what their work is like, you may visit them at their own respective websites by clicking on their names below. Please consider visiting the website of each person that has been involved in this process. Who knows: you might even end up working with them yourself!






That's all for now, everyone. Thank you for reading this post! I hope to see you again soon!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wonder Wednesday: Myke Cole, author of CONTROL POINT (Shadow Ops, #1)

Hello everyone, and welcome to Wonder Wednesday! Today I have a special treat for all of you. As you all have probably already seen, I reviewed an excellent military fantasy novel called Control Point by author Myke Cole last week. (You can read the review by clicking here.) I have to say that this is one of my favorite science-fiction/fantasy books I've read within the past few years. The magic system is great, the main character is perfectly flawed, and the world-building is absolutely amazing. I was more than honored to give it five stars.

Today, Myke is stopping by the blog to answer some questions about his writing, his novel Control Point, and what the future holds for his career.

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Fabled Crossroads: The opening scene in your novel details two children (Selfers who, in this case, are considered terrorists by the United States military) wreaking havoc upon a school. What inspired this grisly opening image, and were you hesitant to write it given horrific events like Columbine, the instatement of the Patriot Act, etc.?

Myke Cole, author of Control Point
Myke Cole: High school aged kids are just beginning to come into their own and developing the power to genuinely defy adults who can no longer physically restrain them. It's also the age where kids develop enough brain power to perceive adult hypocrisy and to truly question authority (teachers, police, the government). National Geographic recently published a great article (opens new window) about how the makeup of the teenaged brain makes adolescents more prone to risk taking.

What happens when you add magic to that mix, especially under a military regime that forbids its practice outside of extremely controlled conditions? Wackiness most definitely ensues. I wanted to explore that. I didn't hesitate at all. I wrote a few different prologues and opening chapters for CONTROL POINT, and all of them centered around Sarah Downer going Selfer in the middle of her high school.

FC: Your debut novel features a powerful authoritive black military officer named Oscar Britton. What inspired him, his ethnicity, his backstory and his position in the military?

MC: I never conceived of Britton as "powerful" and certainly not "authoritative." I get tired of heroes who are always certain, always strong. Real people blunder through to success. They try, then fail, then try something else. One of the most common answers I get from mentors when I ask how they made it to where they are now is: "Honestly? I have no idea." I wanted to portray that. I wanted Britton to be a *genuine* hero - a man with good intentions, conflicted, confused and making mistakes as he pushed his way toward the ultimate goal of what he knew in his heart to be right. Real heroism comes from messing up and course-correcting as you go. There are people who get it right the first time, I suppose, but they bore the hell out of me.

His ethnicity was inspired by the need for him to feel unmoored. I needed him to really be invested in the army so that it would a devastating loss to him to have to go against it. He already had a rough relationship with his family, and I was considering what else I could do to make him feel disconnected from his surroundings. Growing up African-American in Vermont would definitely have that effect. And once I imagined him as an African-American, that was it. It crystalized and became who he was.

What gave you the idea to combine military fiction and fantasy fiction?

It grew naturally out of the the two great loves of my life. I have served either as a mercenary, government civilian or uniformed officer for almost the past fifteen years in a range of warfighting, law-enforcement and disaster response roles. At the same time, I am an avid science-fiction and fantasy nerd. I never grew out of my love of gaming, comics, novels and nerd TV and movies. Blend those two and it's no surprise that I came up with the SHADOW OPS universe.

US Cover
What inspired the ‘Source,’ and why did you choose to make the technology and aesthetic of the world more like medieval fantasy than that of something more modern?

I was reading Bestiaries based on the writings of Pliny the Elder and Isidore of Seville. Like any good nerd, I kept wondering "What if these creatures were real? What if those ancient/medieval writers were accurately describing what they saw?" They would have had to have . . . migrated onto our world from some parallel universe and that universe would have to now be cut off from us. I began thinking of that universe as a fantasy land where all the medieval monsters of legend were real (and thus, existing at a medieval level of technology). And when you think of it logically, magic does a lot of things that technology does for us. When you can heat your home with Pyromancy, there's less of an impetus to develop steam heat. When your village Physiomancer can heal with a touch, you're not as pressed to come up with modern medicine. When Aeromancers can fly, you don't need to come up with an airplane.  

Within the ‘Source’ are a multitude of different fantastical creatures which appear to have been inspired by or are taken from various mythologies. Did you go about choosing a particular mythology or group of mythologies to base your groups around, or did you just use what you thought worked with the world?

Every creature you meet in CONTROL POINT is taken directly from medieval or ancient bestiaries inspired by Pliny or Isidore as I mentioned above. FORTRESS FRONTIER expands into Hindu mythology. I deliberately only selected creatures that I felt would have been observed by "naturalists" during the last Reawakening around 1000 AD.

If you had to Manifest in any of the magic classes in your novel, what would it be?

None. To Manifest in a magical school is to be forever outside society. The SOC is revered and respected, but also feared. To be a Selfer is to occupy the same social strata as a member of al-Qa'ida. I am an incredibly social person. I couldn't function as a pariah.

If you were forced to Manifest as one of the four ‘forbidden’ classes in your novel, which would you prefer and why?

That would be my worst nightmare. To be a Probe is even worse than a regular Latency, as you are now beyond even the embrace of the SOC. I suppose I'd have to learn to Whisper (a Probe discipline inside Terramancy). At least then I'd have animals for company.

UK Cover
What kind of fiction did you grow up with? What inspires you as a writer? Any particular methods you go about using when sitting down to write?

That's three questions. Let me try one of them: I draw my inspiration mostly from other media. It also informs my craft. The downside is that it seriously dampens my enjoyment of books, film and television. When you're consuming media analytically, looking for the HOW and WHY of the work, it kills the sense of...  transportation, of getting lost in the story, that happens when you're just letting it carry you along. But it's the only way I can really see what other writers are doing, and how they're doing it. In the worst scenarios, it leaves me discouraged, feeling like I'll never equal the best writers out there. In the best scenarios, it gives me ideas and shows me the way forward.

Do you write while you’re on duty? If so, how do you manage recreational/hobby time with your professional working life?

I wrote every night during all three tours of Iraq, even though I was only sleeping a few hours a night. When you want something badly enough, you find a way to make it happen. I just got off a stint of active duty time (4th of July is a busy time for the Coast Guard in New York City), and even when I was exhausted, I found time to write in the barracks before hitting the rack for the night. Finding recreational/hobby time is easy. Science-fiction and fantasy *is* my recreation and hobby. Going to cons, reading books, gaming, etc . . . all those things *are* my job, so there's no conflict with finding the time. I used to go to cons as a fan. Now I go to cons as a pro. I'm still going to cons.

Do you see yourself continuing the world of Control Point beyond the projected trilogy, or do you plan on moving on to other types of fiction once you finish the Shadow Ops trilogy?

I have a new series pitch that my agent is very excited about that I am in the process of refining, and hope to get it to the point where he'll take it out to market soon. It's modern (AKA urban) military fantasy, but lower magic than the SHADOW OPS series, with more of an occult feel. I think it should appeal to fans of the SHADOW OPS series and hope it will bring in new readers as well.

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About the Author: As a secu­rity con­tractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and mil­i­tary officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber War­fare to Fed­eral Law Enforce­ment. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill. All that conflict can wear a guy out. Thank goodness for fantasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dungeons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing.

Myke Cole Online

Get Control Point in paperback (left) or on Kindle (right)!
   

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hater by David Moody

Hater
REMAIN CALM
DO NOT PANIC
TAKE SHELTER
WAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS
THE SITUATION IS UNDER CONTROL

HATER

Them or Us, #1 by David Moody


In the post-apocalyptic world of Hater, there are two groups of people: 'Us' and 'Them.' This striking contrast between the 'Haters' and the ones who are being 'Hated,' while initially something that seems very simple, creates for very dynamic tension early on in the book.

Hater begins as most apocalypses do—before all hell breaks loose. Our main character, Daniel, is a government worker who hates his job, hates his position in life and is constantly having to deal with his oftentimes-overbearing children. He and his wife's relationship is suffering, his relationship with his father-in-law in less-than-stellar, and his overall quality of life is plummeting due to his living situation. A house too small, a job too mundane, and a family almost in constant turmoil serves to make life one thingmisery.

However—when a calamity strikes the world, thrusts the populace head-over-heels and creates a violent strain of violent outbreaks that may or may not be disease-related, Daniel, and his family's, world changes—for the worse.

Hater is everything that anyone could ever want in an apocalypse novel. Fast-paced, intense, visceral—there's no lack of violence and tension in this book. It moves at a breakneck pace that makes it almost impossible to put down. I found myself glued to my seat (while at the airport) and transfixed (while reading before bed) at the brutal world that David Moody created. The speed of which the novel moves is, in my opinion, probably the best thing about it. Unlike a lot of apocalypse novels, which slow to a low lull in order to introduce certain aspects of the apocalyptic scenario, Hater never stops. The world, and the condition it is in, is quickly revealed in a rapid-fire succession, making the book constantly exciting and engrossing. My only qualm about the book is more of a personal one than one that stabs at Mr. Moody's writing. There comes a point in the novel where we are introduced to a Hater's psychology, and though the transformation from one who's Hated into a Hater seems to be a quick and sudden process, the act in which it happens is never really explained. As someone who loves reading about that sort of transformation, I would have loved to see that expanded upon. That still may happen in book 2 and 3 though, so I'm not going to discount it as a possibility.

In a nutshell, Hater is brilliant. Fast-paced, utterly-engrossing, absolutely-terrifying--this book is impossible to put down. A definite to-read for any apocalyptic fiction fan.

* * * *
4 Stars!

Get Hater in paperback (left) or on Kindle (right)!


Reviewer’s Notation: I purchased Hater via Amazon.com.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Magic Monday: When "Common" Shouldn't Be Common


Hello everyone! Here on our first Magic Monday we have an article from Gwen Perkins, author of The Universal Mirror, on language-building in fantasy fiction. Here she discusses something many of us are all aware of (the infamous 'common' word in fantasy fiction) and details how, with a little work, an author can truly magnify their fiction by adding just a little more spark to their writing.

“Common Language in Fantasy” by Gwen Perkins

The Universal Mirror
Anyone who’s ever read more than a handful of fantasy novels or played D&D is likely to be familiar with the term “Common.” In many fantasy settings, Common is used as a term for a language that all characters and races have the ability to speak. Is this a convenient tool for writers to use? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the only option available to writers, even those who don’t want to spend all of their free time writing a new language.
Language is a great way to indicate culture, particularly how people communicate with one another. Think about cultural stereotypes that emerge from the sound of an accent to your ear. How do accents affect you personally and/or emotionally? I know when I hear a Scottish or Welsh accent, I automatically think the speaker is attractive. (Don’t lie–at least one reader agrees with me.) On the other hand, growing up with Swedish relatives, I hear Scandinavian accents and think of easygoing people, often associating my own childhood memories with the speaker.
Using different languages (or accents) gives you, as the writer, a way to further develop your character. It might be that your jaded rogue thinks of all speakers from a certain region as manipulative. Other accents might give the impression of that speaker possessing certain characteristics (romantic, hot-tempered, slow-witted…the possibilities are endless). And how much more naive does your innocent farmboy seem if every foreign accent he hears automatically makes him think that the speaker is exotic?
Language also reflects its culture. There’s the popular misconception that the Inuit have 400 words for snow–imagine if your fantasy race has another concept that is just as spoken of. If someone tells you that the man you’re speaking to is from a culture with 400 words for war, for instance, what might you think of that person? How might that have changed his outlook on the world? Alternately, what is a culture like if it doesn’t have a world for a specific concept or idea? (Many ancient cultures did not have the word “zero”…ponder that for a moment.)
It may be unrealistic to showcase a number of languages in your fantasy story. There are a number of ways to hint at this without having to develop languages in full. The easiest, of course, is to give the characters knowledge of foreign languages and simply use a phrase/description here or there to give a sense of what they are speaking. Alternately, they can be utilizing the services of a translator or, if the entire story takes place in one area where one language is spoken, this issue doesn’t apply.
Can you use Common and not have it seem unrealistic? It’s possible (and in fact, quite interesting) if you think about it as a trade language or jargon. Trade languages have been utilized throughout time as a way for multiple cultures to communicate. The trick with using one is to define what the language was used for and what words it might not have. Most trade jargon is focused on terms that are used in negotiating–higher-level concepts and philosophy are not likely to be easy to discuss. It’s also likely that two characters using the same jargon might have great misunderstandings based on the language that they’re trying to communicate in.
Thinking more specifically about your use of language in worldbuilding can lead to great ideas (and consequences) for your characters and story. Feel free to share your thoughts and any examples of great use of language in fantasy worlds below.


bwgwenGwen Perkins is the author of The Universal Mirror, a fantasy novel published in 2012 by Hydra Publications. Read more about this book and her upcoming projects at theUniversalMirror.com.


Get Gwen's novel The Universal Mirror in paperback (left) or on the Kindle (right!)

 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Contact by Carl Sagan


Contact
By human stands it could not possibly have been artificial: It was the size of a world. But it was so oddly and intricately shaped, so clearly intended for some complex purpose that it could only have been the expression of an idea. Gliding in polar orbit about the great blue-white star, it resembled some immense, imperfect polyhedron, encrusted with millions of bowl-shaped barnacles. Every bowl was aimed at a particular part of the sky. Every constellation was being attended to. The polyhedral world had been performing its enigmatic function for eons. It was very patient. It could afford to wait forever.
—Excerpt from Contact, chapter 1

CONTACT

by Carl Sagan

Contact begins with the greatest idea of them all—that somehow, someway and somewhere, life exists beyond the small blue world called Earth. It is in these moments of the beginning of this novel that a grand adventure begins to be spelled out. In that adventure rests none other than Doctor Eleanor Arroway, a woman whose intelligence and drive magnifies her far beyond those of her peers.

It is one day, after an extremely-difficult line of work and a declaration that her SETI project will be shut down, that an unknown message begins to come from the Vega star in distant space—a message bearing, what appears to be, schematics for something far greater than anyone could ever possibly imagine.

As a reader of speculative fiction, and a fan of the science-fiction genre as a whole, I jumped into this book with excitement shortly after viewing the movie adaptation that features Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey for the second or third time. Thinking that it would be vastly different than the original movie, I ventured forward believing that the book would offer its unique, original interpretation--something that, regardless of its genre's tenants, would absolutely blow me away. To say that I was underwhelmed would be an understatement, and for that I sadly have to say that I did not enjoy this book as much as I could have.

With science-fiction, there is always a bridging line between the actual science and the fiction itself that can either make or break a book for a particular sub-sect of readers, mainly those who enjoy the idea of far-off worlds and alien civilizations but are not, in the least, intelligent enough to know specifics details about astronomy, radio waves and other technological jargon (this isn’t to say that readers are stupid; I merely mean that most ordinary people don’t have knowledge of such things.) Being a reader following into that sub-sect, I have to say that much of the time, I found the book doing just what it was I feel many science-fiction novels do in order to make up for the fact that there seems not to be enough `science' and too much `fiction'—mainly, of course, making the science much too heavy a role in the story. While I don't necessarily feel that this book lacked the essentials needed to make this a realistic story, I do feel as though the book (and its now deceased author) went to strong lengths in order to make this as set in stone as possible. For that alone I found myself cringing over three-page-long descriptions of certain scientific actions, theories and equations, and while that may have been beneficial to the story in a technical scientific standpoint, I feel as though Contact could have done without so much of the science and more of the fiction itself.

To say that the book is bad would be wrong. The writing is, at times, beautiful; eloquently strung together and written in a way that marks Sagan as someone who also, along with his astounding intelligence, had the ability to write. (Read the opening excerpt I provided and you’ll see what I mean.) While reading certain passages, I found myself blown away at how they were strung together, worded, and ultimately assembled to create the overall mood of the science in the story. To say this is a smart book would be like comparing an apple to a seed, and while the scientific endeavors that line this book is great, I have to say that I felt little emotion connection to the characters—particularly Arroway, who, as our main character, should have had a stronger focus within the overall story—which dealt a huge blow to the fictional connection between reader and main character. It’s dangerous for any writer in any genre to create a character that you can’t sympathize with, understand, or at least be fascinated by, and while Arroway was an intriguing character, that usually is not enough to make the reader like her. In this case, this is where a more emotional connection should have been used.

While I would not recommend the novelization of Contact to most everyone, given its scientific-slant, I can honestly say that the writing itself is beautiful and, if only for a few chapters alone, should be given a chance. While I may have felt a bit disappointed with the novel, that doesn't mean others will follow my path.

* * * *
3 Stars!

Get Contact in paperback below!

Reviewer’s Notation: I purchased Contact at a Half-Priced Books in Austin, TX.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Control Point (Shadow Ops, #1) by Myke Cole

Shadow Ops: Control Point

The tongues of blazing fire,
The ice storm’s savage trill,
The gale and steadfast mountain,
All serve our nation’s will.
—Excerpt from Chapter 22

CONTROL POINT

Shadow Ops, #1 by Myke Cole


Imagine the world we live in now. Cruel, harsh, completely unforgiving, filled with opposition where even the most basic of peoples are able to arm themselves and cause complete and unrelenting panic—this is the 21rst century of the planet Earth. However—imagine an event occurring on an almost-cataclysmic scale, in which people all over the world suddenly begin to Manifest strange, frightening, and downright-destructive powers.

If you’re having a hard time imagining that, look no further than Myke Cole’s debut novel, Control Point.

We enter the world of the now magic-filled 21rst century during a terrorist attack. Oscar Britton, a member of the armed forces and our protagonist, is tasked, along with his team, to take down a pair of Selfers—individuals who have illegally turned away from the government after Manifesting their magical powers—who are attacking a school. What appears at a glance to be a simple takedown mission quickly turns deadly when, upon arriving, the two Selfers begin to wreak havoc upon the military. Several are killed, many brutally injured, and when one of the Selfers is killed in cold blood after being subdued by none other than our hero, our story shifts in focus to reveal the dynamic of the world and how, in this magical society, even those who surrender after committing horrible crimes are given no mercy.

Upon arriving back at the military operating base and camping out with one of his injured squad mates in the infirmary, things seem to be perfectly fine. His squad is safe, Britton himself is in decent health, and nothing seems to be going wrong. That is, until the unthinkable happens to Oscar Britton—Manifestation.

Control Point by Myke Cole is described by the front-cover blurb as ‘X-Men meets Black Hawk Down.’ To say that is a fairly accurate representation of the novel in itself would be to underestimate the power of the blurb. Throughout the book, Control Point never fails to let down its reader. Written at a breakneck pace, it begins with an action sequence and then falls into a short lull—where, shortly thereafter, hell breaks loose. It is at this early point in the novel that Myke Cole quickly shows his power for writing exciting action sequences. There is no gradual buildup in the beginning, no time to really get familiarized with the idea that there is magic and just what it can do. Instead, we’re thrust headfirst into it. In that regard, Control Point becomes exciting extremely quickly, and as a military thriller it most definitely does its job of delivering the goods to the reader.

I should, however, mention something before I go any further. Control Point is a military fantasy novel. What does that mean? For the most part, it means that there’s magic—several different branches of basic and forbidden magic—but it also means that there’s overly-fantastical elements to it. It does resemble X-Men, in a way (what with the powers the individuals are able to use,) but that is the simplest notion of fantasy that is defined within the novel. Without giving too much away, there comes a point in the booka wild alternate universe (similar in the vein of Narnia in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia or the Wonderland in the film Pan’s Labryinth, ) comes into play, and this world isn’t treated like the world we live in. Instead, it’s wild, it’s lush, and it’s teeming with the fantastic. While that in itself did not bother me as a fantasy reader, I can understand how it could dissuade certain readers of military action and science fiction from reading this novel, as in introducing this element Myke Cole immediately created what many readers would consider a ‘medieval fantasy’ world. The fantasy element isn’t detrimental, though, and as a reader I feel it only added to the further mystique of the novel, especially the world wherein the magic existed.

Another thing I found extremely refreshing about the novel was that our main character, Oscar Britton, is not your stereotypical army man. While incredibly faithful to his country, the spiral of events that come from not only the actions of the chain in command, but also Oscar’s own experiences and eventual Manifestation gradually lead him to down a path that could be considered anything but morally-proper. Throughout the novel we get to see him evolve as a character. From his triumphs to his failures, from his conquests to his defeats, we witness the transformation of a man whom, at the start of the novel, has total faith in the system, and who, through experience through Manifestation and the actions the military force him to do, learns that not everything is as perfect as everyone around him is trying to make it out to be. I’d be the last to say that Oscar Britton is a perfect character, and at even early points in the novel I begged to question his reasoning for certain things. This also comes into effect near the novel’s ending climax—where, after situations boil to a near breaking point, a situation forces Oscar to do something that could easily lose him favor with the people reading his story.

As far as the writing, the story, the narrative, action and world-building go, I found absolutely nothing wrong with this novel. I really have nothing negative to say about it, which is something considering that I don’t normally read what I would consider to be a ‘perfect book.’ Throughout Control Point, I was so entertained that I wasn’t able to tear myself away. Considering I almost missed a few appointments because of it, I’d say that’s a good thing.

Control Point by Myke Cole is intense. Unrelenting, exciting, filled with a magic system that would make any fantasy author envious and written with an experienced militaristic background that only serves to add a harrowing depth and unnerving realism to its narrative, Control Point is a powerful first novel that solidifies Myke Cole’s entry into the world of not only military sci-fi fiction, but also action fantasy fiction. You’ll find it impossible to stop turning the pages and beg for more once you’re done.

* * * * *
5 Stars!

Get Control Point in paperback (left) or on Kindle (right)!
    

Reviewer’s Notation: I received Control Point by Myke Cole for review courtesy of Ace Fantasy/Science Fiction (Penguin Group)