Top positive review
A great read, if a bit unorthodox
Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2018
Oscar Britton, a decorated war hero in the United States Army, is now a prisoner on an unknown world by his own government, wrestling with a power he never asked for.
This is the story of a man struggling with the ethics of war, of juggling with the consequences that war has even on the people who have sworn to follow orders, regardless of the consequences. Britton must learn to make the hard choices, even if he loses his soul in the process, and hope that in the end, lives will be saved and he will be able to forgive himself.
In a world recently reeling from a magical reawakening, the old rules have been tossed aside as a select few now wield the elements at their command, order the dead to return to life, or move between dimensions at will. Shadow Ops is a novel that attempts to explore how the insanity of the American military complex might react to people suddenly gaining the power of myth and then realizing they had the capacity to try and control that power for themselves.
My only gripes with the novel is the tendency to overly rely on Hero Journey archetypes, and the story’s tendency to absolve people of what honestly is an insane amount of terrifying masochism the villains possess while at the same time trying to explain that such behavior is realistic were magic a central force in people’s lives. A third minor complaint I have is that the main character tends to sway back and forth constantly, and much of the story is his voice trying to manage his own doubts about what he eventually needs to do, even though he author clearly paints both the authority and the anarchy with equal shares of evil.
As the author used to be a soldier, the novel does a great job of portraying severe criticisms of the Armed Services on occupied territory while also honestly confronting the behavior issues the regulations cause for many soldiers. The book speaks volumes on the psychological burden the regulations places on soldiers, without calling for their complete dismissal. The book doesn’t leave the reader with any easy answers, but instead allows the reader the choice to make up his or her own mind regarding the casualties of war, but told in a very enjoyable format of magic, monsters, and guns’n’sorcery.