Saturday, 2 February 2013
This might seem a bit out of my comfort zone, and you’d be right, but I was intrigued by the idea of a supernatural military. It jumps straight into the action at the beginning and whilst there is a glossary provided at the back, I found all the military jargon went over my head and found the action hard to follow. If I were ever in a real combat situation, I’d be all “What? I don’t understand!” just before getting shot. I am willing to concede that action-based books aren’t really my thing but Control Point shifts its focus about a third of the way through.
The probes (that’s people with prohibited magic powers) are sent off to a magical military school. So we know one character is definitely a teenager, but does that explain why all the recruits sound like them? Including Oscar, who was definitely introduced as a full-grown man. He suddenly seems to be acting like a sullen boy. I could have easily lifted out a section and presented it as young adult. The whole situation is classic YA dystopian; kids ruled under an iron fist by unfair and prejudiced leaders (that would be the military officers). But I really don’t think they are meant to be kids. And Oscar repeatedly saying “She’s just a kid” gets rather annoying.
So, you’re probably wondering why I carried on reading. Around half way, it starts to settle into some common ground between military and magic school and a goal is introduced. Finally, something to aim for! Plus there are several interesting minor characters. The passages with Marty the goblin healer were the best bits and I’d seriously read a spin-off series about him and his fellow goblins. Scylla, locked away in her box, also piqued my interest although she never panned out to be a complicated enough character for my taste. Indeed, many of the characters are a bit obvious.
Each chapter is headed by a faux quote from a person of authority, official document or the media. These are actually pretty good and shouldn’t be skipped over (unless you’re all about the action). They form a sort of oral history of the world post “re-awakening”, which in turn makes up for the lack of world-building within the main text. There are some valid points in there and I’d liked to have more of a political slant. If you strip away the magical elements, it doesn’t paint a rosy picture of how the military can handle things. I got to the end not really understanding why they were at war and with who, something that unfortunately happens in the real world.
I am calling Oscar Britton by his first name as that’s more natural for me, but most the time he is referred to as Britton. I’m pretty sure this is a military thing and the formality around a lot of the characters is a bit hard to get past. Maybe that’s why Marty and Scylla appealed. Also some of the characters are referred to as their power, eg. the hydromancer, instead of their names. I found this very confusing, especially as a lot of the powers had been glossed over.
I wouldn’t run to read Fortress Frontier straight away, but there was enough of an improvement in the second half that I would consider picking it up in the future. Control Point is published by Headline in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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