We return to the world where magic is weapon and the united States has highly regulated its usage. If you come up latent in one of the approved schools of magic you have three choices. You can join the Supernatural Operations Corp and use your gifts in the service of your country. You can have your powers suppressed chemically and be under constant watch by the government. The final choice is to run.
Breach Zone takes up after the fallout of disastrous fall of the Forward Operating Base in the source. The former President has been impeached, Harlequin and Bookbinder have become folk heroes, and Britton has become the face of those on the run from government control of their magic.
As the title implies, this is the story of Scylla’s dramatic return to her home plane and the consequences of an invasion on American soil. Scylla is a negramancer, a person that can control the forces of decay. This is a rare power and she is a very powerful one on top of that as well. She has learned that there places where the barriers between dimensions are thin and that her power allows her to break through the barrier. She has allied herself with the Gahe, monsters from the Source that are immune to non-magical ordinance. They combined with the goblins and giants become her invasion force. She breaks through in New York City and in Arizona and begins the process of attempting to create a world with people that use magic at the top.
The two main characters followed in this book are General Bookbinder and Harlequin. Harlequin is an Aeromancer that has become the face of The SOC since the last book. If there are photo ops or TV shows to appear on, he is there. BookBinder, a man capable of taking the magic of others and infusing it into objects, has been promoted and then shunted aside to be watched like a time bomb. Both men bristle at these new chains that have been put on them but struggle to stay true to themselves and their country.
The tag line of “Black Hawk Down meets the X-Men” is an apt description for this series and for this book in particular. There are points where Scylla has conversations with Harlequin and other characters where I can see the same conversations being done by Magneto. these could have came across as being derivative but Myke’s mastery of his craft breaths a freshness into them that was good to see. In particular, getting the perspective of Harlequin. a life-long member of the army is an intriguing viewpoint. He talks about himself and other members of the SOC as sheepdogs. Something both dangerous enough to keep away the monsters that stalk the herd but gentle enough to be seen as worth keeping. his struggle with this analogy throughout the book is insightful. He starts out caught up in this idea of being separate from those that he watches over. As he lulls it over, we watch him come to the realization that this analogy is flawed. He isn’t truly different from those he protects.
My favorite part of this book is that we get the origin story of Scylla and her connection to Harlequin. The flashbacks to her time before her unfortunate incarceration are enlightening. Myke handles the transitions masterfully and each builds up the tension that is occurring in the present. To say any more would spoil it.
Mr. Cole has created a rich and vibrant world that I have enjoyed my time in. His vision of a world where magic is real and how it reacts to it is highly entertaining. The military perspective on fantasy is something I had never thought of until the first in this series. Now, I hope he returns to this genre, if not this world some time soon as his stories are a wonder to read.