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The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole
4
Book Name: The Armored Saint
Author: Myke Cole
Publisher(s): Tor.com
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: February 20, 2018 (US) March 13, 2018 (UK)

To be able to write efficiently in more than one genre is a rare talent. Although I loved his first series, I going to be really honest at the onset of this review by admitting I didn’t expect Myke Cole to possess this trait. And boy am I glad to be proved so wrong. The Armored Saint is like an emotional gut punch with the power to slowly melt your face, which is very different from his previous fast paced action oriented military fantasy works.

The first book of this new series really veers away from his previous works as the author decides to try his hand with a medieval epic fantasy setting, incorporating his skill at writing strong characters striving through an emotional roller coaster, while implementing clever little twists to keep the reader guessing.

This time the characters are the main strength to tell the story and the setting while quite an interesting aspect plays a secondary role. Heliose is a unique main character, and this is her story of facing the harsh reality of her world and her rise as a rebel as a result. There are various side characters having important roles in her transformation, and Cole used all of these as instruments to fuel Heliose on her journey.

The world of the The Sacred Throne series is not really detailed in this first book. As a matter of fact we only get glimpses and pieces here and there, but as far as can be deduced by piecing together the information available, it is a harsh world with grimdark influences. Slowly through the eyes of the characters (especially Heliose), we get introduced to a world where the populace is assigned roles according to their proficiencies and needs of the ruling class. There is a vast difference between the sexes. Women are depicted as having little maneuvering room or free will, and that struggle is slowly divulged as Heliose goes against the flow and the norms of the society.

Magic in this world is strictly prohibited as it is believed to be the root of all evil, creating a gateway to hell and an entrance of demons into the world of men. There is a religious order following the rules put down by the emperor to hunt down magic users and end any means to the use of magic, which might open the aforementioned gateway.

Such is the setting of the novel, in which Heliose turns from a simple girl of a village factor to ‘the armored saint’. This is not a simple coming of age story. Rather it depicts how a seemingly simple village girl comes to terms with the world she resides in and learns to question the supposedly divine rules set upon her and her people. It is also the tale of her finding about the fragility of love and of the price to be paid when you cross the line. And moreover, her struggles here are just beginning.

There are some interesting side characters among which I like Clodio and Basina the most, both of whom had their unique and tragic story to complement the growth of the main heroine. The antagonists were a bit one dimensional, and I really expected more regarding their side of the story from Cole. Hopefully, he will focus on this aspect in the future books of the series.

Another negative for me was the painfully slow pace of the first half, I was really worried at times that the author would not be able to pull off the sudden change in pace that was promised. While the second half with its raw and powerful emotion and breathtakingly detailed action did manage to satisfy the fan in me, it took rather an awful lot of time for me to slog through the first half.

Coming to the action depicted in the novel, while there is definitely a lack of it in the novel, the bit that is present promises of a very adrenaline fueled ride for the future. The mixture of grimdark with steampunk in this regard was rather a bit of innovative thinking in my opinion and I can’t wait to dive into the promised warfare.

All in all, this one is not so much about the story so far, but about the story to come. Myke Cole has always been a master at executing a planned structure regarding his storytelling, the pace and progression here (while not always to my liking) shows another example of his style. He seems to have gone up a notch in character building, with some thoroughly loveable and realistic characters who make the reader enjoy every bit of their emotional ride. Even with the slow burn at the beginning of the book I am very optimistic about what the future might hold for this series.

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