Javelin Rain by Myke Cole

Preface: I was given an ARC for this novel by the publisher through NetGalley.

Twitter Summary: The Bourne Identity but with a Navy Seal Lich instead of Matt Damon.

Amazon Affiliate Link: Javelin Rain: A Shadow Ops Novel

I am a huge fan of the works of Myke Cole, since reading his first novel Control Point while on deployment. What I’ve liked about them is how he’s taken some of the staples and tropes in epic fantasy novels, and applied them to military urban fantasy.

Javelin Rain, and it’s predecessor Gemini Cell, are a different beast in my mind. In them, Myke Cole has taken the fantastical elements of Liches/Zombies and magic and combined them with a different genre, that of the Ludlum/Clancy thriller.

And while impeccably written, with tight choreography, sparse dialogue and a rocketship of a story line, I feel that the thriller aspect is where the book falls down. When you look at thrillers such as Da Vinci Code, Bear and Dragon, or the Bourne Identity, those are big freakin’ tomes. The story Myke tells is much more compact, and while there are sub plots, most of those are just getting pieces into play to interact with the protag whose storyline is mostly “I’m on the run”. I didn’t feel the gravitas of the moments like I did in Gemini Cell.

One thing that Myke does incredibly well though is transmit the fatigue of war. Myke has battlefield experience and especially experience with PTSD, which he’s written about before on his blog, What PTSD is and Getting PTSD right (among others),and in his essay in the anthology Beyond the Wall. He’s really able to dig deep into those experiences to create psychologically realized characters. It’s not just the main character who deals with PTSD, but his widow, and the necromancer that brought him back, etc. This book really tackles the theme of PTSD across the whole spectrum and it’s from there that we get the majority of the insights into our characters.

I think this is a good book, but the structure is very similar to the previous book, and I felt that the constant action didn’t allow the characters to breath as much. Just as a great tattoo, utilizes skin breaks to amp up contrast, I felt that the world and character building beats in Javelin Rain were too few to be fully satisfying.I think that the plot and the storyline would translate incredibly into a 2 hour summer blockbuster. In the end though, I want more plot and worldbuilding potatoes in my thriller steak.

Final Verdict: Enjoyed and will be pre-ordering the third book in series.

Other Recommendations:

Military Urban Fantasy: Seal Team 666 by Weston Ochse, Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry

Military Fantasy: Darkness series by Harry Turtledove, The Jackal of Nar by John Marco, Dragoncrown war by Michael Stackpole

Javelin Rain by Myke Cole

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