Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Review: "The Armored Saint" by Myke Cole

Not being much of a military SF fan, I hadn’t read Myke Cole until the Tor newsletter offered “The Armored Saint” ($14.99, Tor) as a holiday gift to subscribers recently. It arrived just as I was finishing my previous read, and being a metal fan, I couldn’t resist the title. (I don’t know Cole’s musical preferences, but I like to at least think it’s a reference anyway.)

Heloise has grown up in a small village under an oppressive theocratic regime. The Order roams the land, striking fear into everyone, as they hunt and kill those who use magic. “Suffer no wizard to live” is the mantra, and with good reason. Magic can open a portal to Hell and allow demons into the world. At least, that’s what Heloise has always been told.

Then she and her family are called upon to participate in an act known as a Knitting where they are the last line of defense against a village the Order has judged to be tainted by a wizard. What she sees on that night rocks her to her core.

It’s a familiar tale for fantasy fans, and I thought I knew exactly where it was going. But Cole threw me a curve ball, which I absolutely love. I was thinking it was a nice little story until he lets us in on what is actually going on, and that turned it into “Oh, holy s***, I didn’t see that coming.”

Heloise has her flaws, but I really like the supporting characters, and I even mourned for the loss of one of them, though we only knew him briefly and he never said a word. That’s good writing.

In honesty, this book is really hard to write about because I don’t want to give anything away for fear of lessening the impact. I want you to discover it the same way I did.

I also have to admit that I do have one major problem with this book. It feels incomplete. It’s short for a novel marketed as epic fantasy, and the book ends where, in my mind, the story is really beginning. I haven’t picked up the second book yet, but it feels to me that this is probably less of a trilogy and more one book split into three serials.

Still, it’s a good first foray into traditional fantasy for Cole and a great introduction to his work for me. I’m interested to see where the story goes.

No comments: