Myke Cole: A Wordsmith Warrior 8.5.2013
The Shadow Ops series is classified as Military Fantasy. I wasn't sure that I would like the series. In an uninformed way I thought the premise seemed a bit "RPG". I have no idea why I thought that and, even if it had been, there's nothing wrong with RPG - it's just not part of my own personal nerd experience.
<Digression on Author D&D>
I will say that I enjoyed the video of Myke Cole and Saladin Ahmed Co-DM a Keep on the Borderlands D&D game at Epic Confusion in Michigan in 2012. You can read Myke's blog about RPGs and what they meant to both him and other authors as well as the experience of being Co-DM for a group of epic SFF authors on his blog here.
You can watch the 2012 game video here.
And they did it again in 2013. To view click here.
To be clear, I fully endorse Wil Wheaton's definition of why being a nerd/geek is great. If you haven't seen that video, put everything down and go watch it immediately here, and then tell me if that from-the-heart blessing for a newborn nerd does not just break your heart right open!
And finally, Pat Rothfuss hosted an episode of The Story Board focused on video-game storytelling which has started to re-educate my sense of the story in gaming. You can view that here. The bottom line is that I suck at role-playing and that probably just makes me jealous of those who can throw themselves into it without self-consciousness ... :)
You can read Michael Jone's book review for Control Point on Tor's site here.
A review of Fortress Frontier (also on the Tor site) by Stefan Raets here.
The main character in the initial book Control Point is Oscar Britton who is a POC. It amazes me how unusual this has been in the world of fiction re main protagonists. Oscar is Oscar and he is glorious. I did wonder, if the reason Oscar went AWOL after he is captured (when his latent magic of Portmancy bursts into uncontrolled life) is in part based on knowing how he would be treated as a black man; guilty until proven innocent, and perhaps, guilty even then.
I loved Oscar Britton as a fully realized, complex dude with a complicated father-son relationship (which for some reason reminded me of the relationship between Ben Meecham and his father, Lt. Col. Wilbur "Bull" Meecham, in Pat Conroy's The Great Santini)
Bottom Line I: Great storytelling, great multi-dimensional characters (pun intended), solid world-building, and great dialogue.
Bottom Line II: Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series is well worth investing in and immersing yourself in. Currently under production is the third novel, Breach Zone. Myke has a contract for an additional three novels in the series and the fourth, Gemini Cell is coming out in 2015.
Cover art is by Larry Rostant.
[Edited on August 18, 2013 to Add: There are lots of folks out there who have a real hate-on for Oscar. I get what they are concerned about - that at the first sign of trouble he broke and ran. Folks have a hard time envisioning a solid military-type character doing that. And he ended up, through certain choices he made, with lots of collateral damage all around him but I guess my anti-authoritarian and libertarian streaks saved the character for me as I probably wouldn't have trusted the government further than I could spit into a cross-wind either.]