Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Control Point

by Myke Cole

cover  

 
This military fantasy strips unicorns and goblins of their cutesy image and makes them terrifying, and it's worth reading for that alone. It's set in contemporary times, in which a Great Awakening has led to some people developing new and surprising powers all over the world. Some of these powers are useful, but others are prohibited because they're extremely dangerous to everyone else.

Lieutenant Oscar Britton is involved in cleaning up the mess when a couple of these newly-minted sorcerers go on the run from the authorities and run amok in a high school. According to the law, if you run you die, but Oscar doesn't see these rebels as terrorists to be put down. He thinks his squad have been sent to kill children just because they won't submit to a life of imprisonment and obedience. The Supernatural Operations Corps (SOC) are in charge of controlling rogue magic users, and they're formidable, so Oscar isn't in much of a position to argue with them.

However, after a traumatic job Oscar finds he is one of the gifted, and his powers manifest in a prohibited school of magic. He has to choose between running away or surrendering to the authorities. But since he believes his gift alone is an instant death sentence it's not much of a choice.

Oscar is a hard man who knows his way around an arsenal, but he also has a strong sense of right and wrong. So although he's afraid of the authorities he's also worried about the effect his uncontrolled powers could have on innocents. His conscience gives the SOC leverage over him that goes beyond the physical threats they use to control him. But the more he learns about the magical awakening, the less sure he is about who is fighting the good fight. He isn't alone in his predicament: there are others with similar powers, and they're often radically split by the way they respond to attempts to make them fall in line. This story is all about control: both self-control and society's efforts to direct those it fears or finds valuable. It asks whether there's ever a point where you can take a person and turn them into a tool or a weapon with no free will of their own.

I don't know how significant it is that the main character is black, but the novel certainly put me in mind of the history of slavery. There is a newly discovered race of diminutive goblins who are divided between those who co-operate with the army and those who are at war with humans. But whichever side they take they are treated like dirt merely because of the way they look.

For Oscar the choice is whether he can do the most good by defying the army or co-operating with it, in spite of its faults. He wavers over this, but when he commits to a decision later on in the book I wasn't entirely convinced by his change of heart. It didn't seem like the reasons were strong enough to persuade such a thoughtful character to act that way. However that's a minor niggle in a book this interesting. The supernatural world is full of strange creatures, and Myke Cole has considered the implications of giving people certain types of magic to come up with some peculiar, horrific, and shocking images. Control Point crackles with magic and gunfire. It's a compelling read.

7th January 2013

Book Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Books

  Fantasy
    Male Protagonist  

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4 star rating

Review ©

Source: review copy

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