It wasn’t until after I completed BREACH ZONE and I read a few others’ comments that I realized the SHADOW OPS books were a trilogy and that BREACH ZONE marked the end of the SHADOW OPS series (though Myke was kind enough to mention on a Fantasy-Faction.com thread that he will continue writing books within this universe).
I’ll admit, I’m surprised that BREACH ZONE marks the end of the story — to me, it reads more like a middle or penultimate book than the ultimate conclusion of this story. Maybe it’s that Cole has created a world that doesn’t lend itself to pat, tidy conclusions that makes me feel this way.
First, the positives:
Once again,this was a well-written story. As with the first two books, there’s a lot of military jargon thrown around, and it took me a few pages to immerse myself once again not only in the world, but in the way many of the military characters speak. I was able to quickly adapt, and once I learned the lingo (it’s almost always fairly obvious due to context), it actually adds to my enjoyment of the book because it’s so different from anything else I typically read.
The action comes fast and furious, continuing the trend from the previous two books, and I like the way Cole’s books study the way that systems and rules and procedures impact people in real life, and how those people respond when they realize that the rules and systems around them either don’t work. Cole also explores the flip side, as some who spur the rules come to realize that some of those guidelines are there. It’s a thoughtful look at the structure of government and the military, and I appreciated that.
Making government systems a strong theme in these books interested me on an intellectual level, but I don’t know that it inspired much passion. Sure, BREACH ZONE features the face-off between our heroes and Scylla, and Cole does a good job of creating a backstory between Harlequin and Scylla throughout the book, but near the end there’s a lot of discussion about the laws governing magic use, and feels like the conclusion misses the emotional gut punch I would have liked to have received. It didn’t feel like the final book in a trilogy, and I wish it had.
That being said, I recommend all three of Cole’s SHADOW OPS books. Contrary to most series, I actually think the second one — FORTRESS FRONTIER — was the best of the bunch, but all three are worth the read.