The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne, #1)
In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne, #1) Details

TitleThe Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 1st, 1970
Rating
GenreFantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction

The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne, #1) Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review.Constantly pulse-pounding, The Armored Saint is a poignant, tension-packed grimdark fantasy and a glorious beginning to a trilogy.I started The Armored Saint with zero knowledge about the book; I didn’t know what it was about, and I had never even heard of the name Myke Cole. What captured my attention was Robin Hobb’s blurb and its stunning cover art by Tommy Arnold. Luckily, I’m pleased to say that the book’s tone totally m ARC provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review.Constantly pulse-pounding, The Armored Saint is a poignant, tension-packed grimdark fantasy and a glorious beginning to a trilogy.I started The Armored Saint with zero knowledge about the book; I didn’t know what it was about, and I had never even heard of the name Myke Cole. What captured my attention was Robin Hobb’s blurb and its stunning cover art by Tommy Arnold. Luckily, I’m pleased to say that the book’s tone totally matched Hobb’s blurb (“Ruthless and heart-wrenching”) and the quality of the book itself exceeded the quality of the gorgeous cover. I guess you can say that judging a book by its cover worked wonderfully this time. The Armored Saint, the first book in The Sacred Throne trilogy, is in fact only the second time a short book or a novella made it to my “favorites of all time” shelf, the first one being The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. Cole has truly created something special here; right from the first chapter, the story pulled me in and never let go until the end. Told solely from Heloise’s perspective, I found the plot highly engaging up to the incredible action-packed climax sequences. It’s immersive and it dealt with a lot of intriguing topics that fit our current societies, such as faith, familial and LGBT love, but most of all, injustice and persecution. “..while your thoughts are your own, the words you let past your lips belong to the world, and the world will not always take the meaning you intended.” The story direction is not plot-driven; I don’t think it was ever meant to be written that way, and was instead a heavily character-driven story. Because the author used this storytelling direction with an exceptionally well-written main character, I was never bored while reading this book. The main character, Heloise Factor, has become one of the best female protagonists I’ve ever read in any book. “Heloise Factor is my favorite kind of hero, the one who makes mistakes and suffers for them, and comes out swinging anyway. I can’t wait for you to meet her.” –Myke Cole And I’m delighted to have met her. Her raw emotions, her innocence, her struggle with love and her identity can be felt through each word. In fact, by the middle of the first chapter, I was already worried about her fate. This, of course, doesn’t apply to Heloise only; the side characters, especially Samson, Clodio and Basina are all equally well written despite the book being told solely from Heloise's POV in third person narrative.All of these were achievable due to Cole’s prose that felt incredibly vivid and totally brought the raw emotions of the characters to life. Believe me, I wish I can share all the quotes that I highlighted and tell you what a wonderful experience I had reading Cole’s prose, but it’s better for you to find out by yourself. Surprisingly, the discussion about love in this book moved me the most. There was also stunning world-building that was introduced meticulously: dark medieval setting, violent fanatical religious group, a portal to hell through an eye, magic with repercussions, and War-Machines. With all of these aspects combined, I couldn’t possibly ask for a better start to a trilogy in a short book.Remember, all of this happened within the scope of fewer than 200 pages; what many authors usually require 400 pages or more to do, Cole did exceptionally well in half the number of pages. This deserves high praise from me and trust me, I’m quite petty when it comes to giving praises. It actually shocked me to learn that this is Cole’s first grimdark fantasy; he captured all the essence of grimdark fantasy magnificently without showing any gore or unnecessary violent scenes; he instead emphasized more how brutal and harsh reality can be. However, in the midst of all the injustice, he never forgets to remind us that love and kindness remain two of the greatest gifts that humanity can bestow upon one another. “That love is worth it. It is worth any hardship, it is worth illness. It is worth injury. It is worth isolation. It is even worth death. For life without love is only a shadow of life.” I read through the ARC edition of this book within three hours; on that front, I guess I’m screwed because there are still five months left until the official release date of this book, which means my wait for the second book will be even more painful. However, I’ll wait patiently; if the rest of the trilogy maintains this quality, I have no doubt that The Sacred Throne will be one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read. Cole is truly a long-awaited addition to grimdark fantasy and I’m sure fans of the genre—or just great fantasy in general—will be damn pleased to welcome him aboard once this book appears on the market.P.S: Although Tor categorized this book as a novella, I should let you know that its wordcounts reached 60k, which easily fits the criteria of a short book instead of a novella.Release date: February 20th, 2018. You can pre-order the book HERE You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review. “Love is worth it. It is worth any hardship, it is worth illness. It is worth injury. It is worth isolation. It is even worth death. For life without love is only a shadow of life.” Well, I think it’s safe for me to yell from the rooftops: pre-order The Armored Saint now, guys! What an amazing ride, even though I wasn’t ready for it to be over. This is easily one of the best things I’ve read in 2017, and this is truly epic fantasy at its fi ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review. “Love is worth it. It is worth any hardship, it is worth illness. It is worth injury. It is worth isolation. It is even worth death. For life without love is only a shadow of life.” Well, I think it’s safe for me to yell from the rooftops: pre-order The Armored Saint now, guys! What an amazing ride, even though I wasn’t ready for it to be over. This is easily one of the best things I’ve read in 2017, and this is truly epic fantasy at its finest. I’m so damn impressed. The Armored Saint centers on a village of people who live subservient lives to the Order. The Order is a group of religious tyrants that do horrible things to the wizards in this world, or to the people that are protecting and/or harboring the wizards in this world. The Order follows the word of the Writ, which has lead them to believe that wizards have a portal in their eye, that can open the very gates of hell itself and summon devils. Our main protagonist, Heloise, is a sixteen-year-old girl who isn’t sure if she even believes the Order, but she knows that they are heartless, terrible people after her and her father have a run-in with them at the very start of this story. The Order appears to just be cruel for the sake of being cruel, but many of the villagers in Heloise’s community believe in the words that Order preaches, including her very own father. “Because the Writ tells us, girl. Because the Order reminds us. The devils are real, and they are terrible, and we must be ever vigilant for their return.” Heloise and her village are put in a situation where they have to make a sacrifice, after they’ve already been forced to make so many, or to risk everything to protect their community. The story really takes off from there, and we also get to see a mysterious ranger, an inactive war-machine, and even a magical mouse! But this is also a story about discovering and embracing your sexuality. Heloise is constantly questioning her feelings for her best friend, and it made me cry so many happy yet sad tears. This is a beautiful tale about a girl coming to terms with her queerness in a world that thinks it is unnatural, and it is so very important. This story truly means more to me than I can express in words. Heloise is easily one of my favorite female protagonists of all time, and I will continue to say what I say in every queer SFF review I write: we need more stories like this! This story is so utterly heart-wrenching, but it’s so important. “That’s what love should be, sure as stone, as running water. Sure as the bite of winter and spring blossoms. Sure even when it was impossible. Even when they were both girls.” And love is such a driving force in this very character focused story. The love between families. The love between friends. And the love between two young girls who are just trying to learn who they are. “No. It is a person you love. Not a name. Not a she or a he. A person in all their shining glory. There is a thing in us, Heloise. A seed. It makes us who we are. It is our core. That is the thing we love. It alone exists. It alone is holy. It has no home, no name. It is neither male nor female. It is greater than that.” Now, excuse me while I go cry for the rest of this night, because I’m not sure if I’ve read anything as beautiful as that quote. This book has such a lyrical prose. The writing is so fantastic and adds even more to an already perfect story. And Myke Cole does this in only 200 pages. This is the first thing I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be my last. This book is little, but it is oh so mighty. And it has completely captured my heart. Please give this book a try when it releases on February 20th, 2018! “Never be sorry for loving, Heloise. No matter who it is, no matter how it is done, no matter how the person you love receives it. Love is the greatest thing a person can do. Most go their entire lives knowing only ritual and obligation, mistaking it for love.” Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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  • Mark Lawrence
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. Read it in two days, which is always a good sign. Though sometimes I do savour books I'm really into too...This isn't a book for savouring, it's a hard hitting tale that doesn't let up until it's done. The punches come both emotionally and, in the actions scenes, literally. The title girl is the main character and we see events unfold through her eyes. Cole does a great job portraying her inner life along with her often poor decision making that comes from a good place.The boo I loved this book. Read it in two days, which is always a good sign. Though sometimes I do savour books I'm really into too...This isn't a book for savouring, it's a hard hitting tale that doesn't let up until it's done. The punches come both emotionally and, in the actions scenes, literally. The title girl is the main character and we see events unfold through her eyes. Cole does a great job portraying her inner life along with her often poor decision making that comes from a good place.The book does a great job at portraying relationships, making you care about the characters, and then menacing the hell out of them! Nooooo! Don't do that! I thought, more than once. It's a small book but it builds a big and interesting world, and does so painlessly, even though we only see a sliver of it. There's enough inventiveness going on to keep this reader happy without overloading.Reading the story there were quite a few points where I thought, "I know where this is going." And each time I felt a touch disappointed, thinking that I was reading a tale I basically already knew, albeit it very well executed. It turned out though that I was wrong on several of those occasions and the refusal to stay on the tracks was very welcome.It's a little book that takes on big issues of rights and wrongs, and rather than give glib answers it just shines a light on them. It's intelligently written, fun, and brutal in equal measures. Well ... the fun comes from reading it. I won't claim it's a laugh riot. I thought this was an excellent read, bringing to the table all of Myke Cole's proven skills and adding new ones into the mix as if the man didn't already have enough talent.So, yes, read it! It won't take long and you'll thank me.Tor describe this as a novella. Book 1 in a trilogy of novellas.http://www.tor.com/2016/06/02/tor-com...At almost 60,000 words The Fractured Girl is actually a shortish book rather than a novella, the definition of which seems to include a word range of 17,500 to 40,000.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NovellaIt's also longer than most of the many books that Michael Moorcock wrote in the 60s/70s. We've just grown used to fat fantasy of late.I hear a whisper that short and sweet may be coming back. And remember, Prince of Thorns was only 82,000 words.Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes..
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  • A Bald Mage** Steve
    January 1, 1970
    via GIPHY “See the portal? I’m a gateway! Hell comes through me! The devils will soon be here!”I received this book courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review.This gem of a book proved to me that you don’t have to write a massive book containing over a thousand pages to tell a good story, this novel clocks in at a mere 208 pages, some would say a short story, but I can tell you now this was one of the most intense books I’ve read this year.Full Review on my Blog: Happy Rea via GIPHY “See the portal? I’m a gateway! Hell comes through me! The devils will soon be here!”I received this book courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review.This gem of a book proved to me that you don’t have to write a massive book containing over a thousand pages to tell a good story, this novel clocks in at a mere 208 pages, some would say a short story, but I can tell you now this was one of the most intense books I’ve read this year.Full Review on my Blog: Happy Reading :)https://twobaldmages.wordpress.com/20...
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  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    I'm an outlier here, but I wasn't as enthralled by this bleak, medieval-type magical fantasy as others seem to be. The Emperor's brutally cruel and oppressive government and Inquisition-like agents were distasteful and play into anti-religious stereotypes ("Suffer no wizard to live"). And the sixteen year old main character, Heloise, makes several questionable choices due to her strong feelings about, well, lots of things, and endangers her family and her entire village as a result. She's tremen I'm an outlier here, but I wasn't as enthralled by this bleak, medieval-type magical fantasy as others seem to be. The Emperor's brutally cruel and oppressive government and Inquisition-like agents were distasteful and play into anti-religious stereotypes ("Suffer no wizard to live"). And the sixteen year old main character, Heloise, makes several questionable choices due to her strong feelings about, well, lots of things, and endangers her family and her entire village as a result. She's tremendously passionate, but not terribly bright, at least not in a practical sense. Heloise is a sympathetic character, coming of age in this story and coming to terms with her feelings toward her best friend Basina, which is all in a Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name kind of way, due to their culture. The story is ultimately very affirming of her sexuality:"Never be sorry for loving, Heloise. No matter who it is, no matter how it is done, no matter how the person you love receives it. Love is the greatest thing a person can do. Most go their entire lives knowing only ritual and obligation, mistaking it for love. But you have loved truly, as few can ever hope to do. This pain you are feeling is a triumph, Heloise."This is Message Fiction - which has its place, and if you're a gay teen this type of story will probably really help with your self-acceptance. But a queer-friendly message isn't, in and of itself, enough reason to throw accolades and awards at a book. (For example, I think Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a far better story.)I have to give The Armored Saint props for one seriously eyebrow-raising twist that I in no way expected. Unfortunately it's never really explained either, but maybe that will come in the sequels. Full review to come. Advance copy of this book provided by Tor for review.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from a NetGalley wish Reading Gemini Cell sent me on a bit of a reading frenzy towards the end of this year. It was fresh and different and I queued the entire series on my Kindle and then thrilled to see that Cole had started his next series. Armored Saint is a medieval, grimdark fantasy and a fresh and exciting addition to the genre. It was also my favorite book of 2017 The Armored Saint is action in concert with tension and there is a lot to love about it. I want to high I received this book from a NetGalley wish Reading Gemini Cell sent me on a bit of a reading frenzy towards the end of this year. It was fresh and different and I queued the entire series on my Kindle and then thrilled to see that Cole had started his next series. Armored Saint is a medieval, grimdark fantasy and a fresh and exciting addition to the genre. It was also my favorite book of 2017 The Armored Saint is action in concert with tension and there is a lot to love about it. I want to highlight my four favorites though: 1) the way Cole writes women; 2) world building and consequences; 3) the clarity of action and combat; and 4) love. the pain and grieving giving over to something else. Anger....The ember was small, but it grew quickly, and it felt so much better than sorrow. First- I continue to be impressed with Cole’s female characters. The protagonist, Heloise, is innocent and raw. She questions her faith, her sexuality, her own strength and he managed to fit that perfectly into a grimdark book. Heloise’s rage is boiling, real and complex and it *very much* speaks to me. Her fear of a life burdened by the role of wife, \ limited in loving how/when society tells her to, reminds me of the letters between Heloise and Abelard, where Abbess Heloise said “I preferred love to wedlock, freedom to bond.” Her lion-like response to protect friends, family, and the weak makes the reader cheer for her all the more. I could’ve used a heroine like Heloise in my life when I was younger- she is the Joan d’Arc with a war machine and engine that I would’ve carried in my heart through some rough years. I’m still thankful to have had this time with her; it’s going to be a hard wait for book 2.Second- The Shadow Ops/Reawakening series worked so well because Cole deftly translated his military experience into urban fantasy. With Armored Saint, he brings his considerable study of history to bear, making the world and the Order just as real and just as tangible as his other series. The Writ has the perfect cadence for a holy text. The Pilgrims with their flails and dogma call to mind Templars and flagellants with a dark crusade. He nails the feel of an imperial religion down to the prayerful responses of the villagers. Characters are never spared from their actions, they and those around them have to face the consequences of thought and deed. More than that though, he manages to encapsulate true weariness. I’ve found weariness to be particularly tricky; weariness sits in your gut differently, you carry its weight differently than fear or exhaustion, and Cole does it justice. “Did we have to do it? She asked.“No,” he answered, his voice breaking, tears falling into his beard to turn the flakes of ash to gray slush. “No, child. We didnt.”...He took a deep break then spoke again. “And making us complicit means we will never call them to account for the crime.” Third- Cole writes action with precision. You honestly can’t ask for better clarity outside of watching a movie in slow motion. Without burdening the scenes with unnecessary prose Cole can move multiple people in battle, describing stances, axes tangling chains, leveraging weight, the burning strain in muscle. You don’t lose the positions of the characters, you don’t even lose their footing. A giant, terrifying hell spawn can be rampaging, and you feel the flow of battle, the twitch of instinct, muscle-memory guiding battle. I love that after reading a paragraph I can close my eyes and actually see it. Fourth- Javelin Rain sucked me in partially because it was a breathtaking love story and so is Armored Saint. No. It is a person you love. Not a name. Not a she or a he. A person in all their shining glory. The love is heady. My heart ached in my chest for Heloise, opening to herself and to others, daring to want, daring to love. Make no mistake, the world of the Armored Saint is dark, the ruling religious order terrorizes villages, wizardry can open actual portals to hell and free demons and wizard-blight to kill and poison, but love is beautiful and it is worth fighting for and it’s the force that drives Heloise, her father, Basina, all of them. This is the beginning to an amazing journey. Want to hear the author read a chapter? Here is the link to the video on Facebook The release date is February 2018. You canpurchase the book Here
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  • Adrian Collins
    January 1, 1970
    The Armored Saint is the new novella from Myke Cole (Shadow Ops) and the beginning of a new fantasy trilogy, The Sacred Throne. The publication seems to be part of Tor’s novella series, but at 208 pages, it reads more like a short novel than a novella. No matter what you call it, though, Cole makes the format work exceptionally well with tight prose, a close third-person single narrative, a condensed story world, and intense conflicts all stuffed into a smaller-than-door-stopper package. As most The Armored Saint is the new novella from Myke Cole (Shadow Ops) and the beginning of a new fantasy trilogy, The Sacred Throne. The publication seems to be part of Tor’s novella series, but at 208 pages, it reads more like a short novel than a novella. No matter what you call it, though, Cole makes the format work exceptionally well with tight prose, a close third-person single narrative, a condensed story world, and intense conflicts all stuffed into a smaller-than-door-stopper package. As most readers are aware, there is not enough time to read all the great fantasy and sci-fi available, and I have been wanting to read some of Cole’s highly regarded Shadow Ops series, but never got there. So I was glad to be given a chance to read and review the beginning of this new series, which looks to be a good one. The Armored Saint follows the story of Heloise, a teenage girl living in a quasi-medieval village on the outskirts of an extremely oppressive empire under the rule of the religious Order and their Holy Writ. The job of the order is summed up in one line from the Writ: “Suffer no wizard to live.” The Order gallops around from village to village dispensing brutal justice on anyone suspected of wizardry or any village suspected of harboring a wizard. The Order is relentless and, even worse, accountable only to themselves. True to the short-form novel, Heloise and her father, Samson Factor, encounter the Order in the story’s first chapter. They stop Heloise and her father on the road. The effect is truly frightening, setting the mood for the entire story, and the hook, the inexorable, gripping, frightening conflict, of the story is set, never to let go. While some, perhaps many, longer novels sag in the middle, get muddled down with seemingly irrelevant subplots, long descriptions, and/or episodic events, The Armored Saint has no time for bullshit. The story races along like a forest fire. When Heloise sees her friend murdered by the Order in a horrifying “Knitting” of a nearby village, she is determined to fight back. She is joined by her village who are fed up with the oppressive Order and skeptical about its intentions. Only Heloise knows the real secret that need to be protected from the Order to save her friends and family. But does she really know everything she thinks she knows? There are twists and turns aplenty, especially for such a short novel, and as should be expected, the whole fucking thing blows up in an explosive, magical, and pleasantly unexpected climax. Cole’s prose is fast and direct. There’s no space for self-indulgence here; the author/narrator almost disappears behind Heloise’s thoughts and actions. Characters’ voices, dialogue, and language are consistent and diacritical, which helps create a distinct feeling for the culture of these villagers without the need for a lot of exposition. Cole also uses dialogue to move the story along briskly while adroitly avoiding info-dumping. The effect is a very fast moving tale, full of energy, excitement, and the type of character depth one would expect from a full-length novel. It’s not perfect, though. Heloise’s mother, Leuba, who appears sparingly in the story, is particularly without description or voice, a mere placeholder for a character, but that’s part of the tradeoff between a lengthy tome and a densely packed short novel. Despite its short form, The Armored Saint is replete with thematic significance. Readers must ask themselves what rights do authorities have to govern people in extremely dangerous situations, a theme that seems extremely compelling given the expanding role of government in the so-called War on Terror. The nature of forbidden love and sexual attraction is called into question as well, with surprising results. Loyalty is another significant theme that drives the action in The Armored Saint: at what point are family ties in conflict with the good of society? Of course, the role of sexuality and gender in a male-dominated society is also explored. Are women worthy of traditional male roles in society, and why must it always be men who raise them to such positions (with the highly significant exception of Kameron Hurley’s The Stars are Legion—see review in GdM #11)? These are complex questions that are significant both in fiction and with regard to the resurgence of a global women’s movement.Heloise joins a seemingly rising number of young, tough-as-nails female protagonists written by male authors in grim fantasy, including Nona from Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister, Thorn from Joe Abercrombie’s Half the World, and Pyrre from Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn. And Heloise is not alone in this story. She has other female friends, which separates The Armored Saint from a lot of old school fiction that features female characters who only relate to male characters, like the nearly non-existent female characters in The Lord of the Rings and the powerful but isolated female characters in A Game of Thrones, which shows that male writers are starting to “get it”: women are literally Half the World. I wonder if Heloise will continue to be the featured protagonist of The Sacred Throne trilogy; I can think of no reason why she shouldn’t. She is a complex, flawed, sympathetic character with huge balls... uh... I mean, gonads. If anything, she might be too ‘good’. Which brings us to the big question. The Armored Saint is billed by its publisher as the start of “a new epic fantasy trilogy.” It remains to be seen how grimdark purists will receive it. Heloise and her father are ‘good’ people; there can be little argument about that. Because this is only the first entry in a trilogy, we cannot know yet if good will triumph over evil, but I expect it will. However, even though I enjoy grimdark as a favorite subgenre (IMHO) and love the morally grey sentiments that are central to it, I am very much looking forward to revisiting these complex characters and this terrifying world in the next installment in this gritty, dark, brutal, grim, fearsome but perhaps merely ‘epic’ series. Highly recommended. The Armored Saint is expected to be released by Tor.com Books/Tom Doherty Associates on Feb 20, 2018. Our thanks go out to the publishers for sending us an advance copy. Review by malrubius to be published in GdM#14.
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Review closer to release date."Fear's a deadly thing, Heloise. It can drain a person of all their strength, make them weak before their enemies. That's how we were until you showed us different. But we see now, and we are not afraid anymore..."
  • Marielle Ooms-Voges
    January 1, 1970
    Very much enjoyed this book and I will definitly read the next.
  • ~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books
    January 1, 1970
    Read this review and more at Book Geeks Uncompromised.So...wow. This book is just a hair over 200 pages long and it hit me hard.The people in Heloise's world live under constant fear of wizards, who they have been told just by doing the smallest bit of magic can inadvertently tear open a portal to hell. Because of this, their Empire quickly strikes wherever there is even the barest whisper of magic and they do so in a horrific manner. "Her father was lying, not just to her, but to himself. Worst Read this review and more at Book Geeks Uncompromised.So...wow. This book is just a hair over 200 pages long and it hit me hard.The people in Heloise's world live under constant fear of wizards, who they have been told just by doing the smallest bit of magic can inadvertently tear open a portal to hell. Because of this, their Empire quickly strikes wherever there is even the barest whisper of magic and they do so in a horrific manner. "Her father was lying, not just to her, but to himself. Worst of all, he expected her to repeat the lies, to act as though up was down of her own free will. It was a stupid, wicked way to live, and the smoke still smudging the darkening sky showed her how it ended." You know the beginning to pretty much every epic fantasy story where you are introduced to a MC that lives in a quiet little village but then a Big Thing happens that sends him off on a grand adventure? This book is basically solely that beginning section. Instead of rushing the MC off onto a grand adventure, The Armored Saint lingers there and concentrates on the emotions of a person's small world being ripped apart.Also, the MC is a she. And I feel like for this particular story, that is important.Heloise is a teenager that begins the story somewhat like Ariel from The Little Mermaid with constant insistence that she is a grown up now but still likes to sneak off to giggle with her best friend and make impulsive decisions.But in this short 200 pages, her character goes through so much and grows so freakin' much that the Heloise at page 205 is nothing like the Heloise at page 1. I don't know if I have ever seen so much character growth in the giant tomes with pages number in the 4 digits and Myke Cole manages that growth wonderfully.Though the book is short and so much happens in it, nothing ever feels forced. I honestly don't know that I have seen such great character development in series that take place over thousands of pages as I have in this single book.Okay, Dani, so Heloise is great. What else?There is also some great commentary on society in general, I think. Heloise's father is very quick to say that other an neighboring village should cast out a man that has caused trouble but when the tables are turned is very quick to beg for the same mercy he said should be denied to another person. This was not something that a lot of time was spent on in the book but I really was drawn to this statement that it is really easy to say how other people should be handling a situation when you have never been there yourself.I also loved that Heloise is in love with another teenage girl. Fantasy and sci fi for sure need more LGBT characters in them but in many cases I feel like when they are there, their story is kind of forced or doesn't flow well with what else is going on in the story. Here though, her struggle to come to terms with her love for another girl in a world that violently opposes it I felt worked perfectly in tandem with the rest of the story.Beyond that, this is a story about bravery, loss, and growth. It is about zealotry and doing something because "that's the way its always been done."The story leaves off very open-ended for the next one but I was so immensely satisfied by this book and its ending that I think it stands perfectly well on its own. It's only January so I don't want to start naming my 2018 favorites but I am finding that the more I think about this book, the more I love it. So this one just may make the list.
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  • Janet Martin
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this book, as there is a lot going for it. I wasn't able to overcome the extraordinary stupidity of the main viewpoint character--16, going on 6. Every single bad thing that happened in the story was the result of Heloise's stupidity and headstrong selfishness. I, and most of the girls and women I have known in my life, are smart enough to know when to fight and when to shut up. Heloise destroyed the lives of everyone who ever tried to help her and a bit of bravery at the end wa I wanted to like this book, as there is a lot going for it. I wasn't able to overcome the extraordinary stupidity of the main viewpoint character--16, going on 6. Every single bad thing that happened in the story was the result of Heloise's stupidity and headstrong selfishness. I, and most of the girls and women I have known in my life, are smart enough to know when to fight and when to shut up. Heloise destroyed the lives of everyone who ever tried to help her and a bit of bravery at the end wasn't enough to make me as a reader have any respect or liking for her
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review.The Armored Saint is a love story. It’s a tale of transforming power wherein time and again, people hazard everything for love.If you think you know where the story is going read on. The narrative travels in a direction that is more fantastic than the theocracy we are initially introduced to by our heroine, Heloise Factor. The driving force in Heloise’s life is the love she shares with family, friends and even her village. The ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review.The Armored Saint is a love story. It’s a tale of transforming power wherein time and again, people hazard everything for love.If you think you know where the story is going read on. The narrative travels in a direction that is more fantastic than the theocracy we are initially introduced to by our heroine, Heloise Factor. The driving force in Heloise’s life is the love she shares with family, friends and even her village. The strength of this love binds all of them together in ways that are sometimes horrible and other times noble and beautiful. Although gender roles are not clearly defined, it’s obvious that based on class and situation, Heloise doesn’t have many choices. As a reader, I had found it difficult to fault Heloise for not making the right choice when there aren’t many options. If Heloise is to be faulted for anything, it is for being impulsive and for not having learned to anticipate the consequences of her choices. There is plenty of action and much of it in a very short period of time, so I’m going to give Heloise the benefit of the doubt and hope that once she has time to reflect, she might consider holding her knee jerk reaction in check long enough to consider the consequences of acting on impulse.The Armored Saint flirts with different genres and tropes from high fantasy to dystopia before comfortably settling into the realm of grimdark. Grimdark has a tendency to be a lengthy endeavor but Cole is economical and purposeful in his use of words. What Cole achieves in approximately half the space of a traditional grimdark work is no less developed and engrossing. The simplicity of the descriptions belies the world he has created, and an entire society and landscape are laid before us with surprising clarity. The pace of the book is fast. Between the action and world-building there is emotion, much of it raw, some of it subtle but all of it tangible. Throughout the book, there is an underlying tension that made me anxious about what would happen next and I savored the experience. If there is one weakness in the book, it’s the character of Heloise’s mother, Leuba. Leuba is a shadow while the steadfast Samson and a series of surrogate fathers have taken center stage in Heloise’s story. I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see Leuba step into a more developed role as Samson worries for Heloise’s future and other men try to push Heloise in a direction Samson is having difficulty embracing. A girl as headstrong and passionate as Heloise didn’t grow-up without female influences and so far, the only real connection she has had with another female is with her friend and first love, Basina. If I could, I would pre-order the next installment of the trilogy.For now, I will have to settle for re-reading and recommending The Armored Saint to anyone who enjoys a good story and who is willing to let our girl, Heloise scrape her knees before she realizes her potential.
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  • Nathan
    January 1, 1970
    I want to thank NetGalley and Tor.com for letting me read an advance copy of this title. The only downside is that now I have to wait that much longer for the sequel, because this book definitely deserves one.I want to highlight two of my favorite aspects of this story. The first is the main character, Heloise. Heloise isn't some chosen one, a prophesied hero. She's a young woman who stands up for the ones she loves, even when threatened by impossible odds. Her natural curiosity and impulsivenes I want to thank NetGalley and Tor.com for letting me read an advance copy of this title. The only downside is that now I have to wait that much longer for the sequel, because this book definitely deserves one.I want to highlight two of my favorite aspects of this story. The first is the main character, Heloise. Heloise isn't some chosen one, a prophesied hero. She's a young woman who stands up for the ones she loves, even when threatened by impossible odds. Her natural curiosity and impulsiveness both save her at times and get her into trouble at others. To put it succinctly, she's a very real person, and the fact that she does amazing things will inspire readers to aspire to greatness despite the fact that they're just "normal".My other favorite aspect of this story was the pacing of the narrative. At about the halfway point, I was absolutely convinced I knew something about the way things would play out, and then without betraying what had happened so far or making a jarring turn of events, the author was able to turn my expectations completely upside down. And on top of that, the ending was simultaneously satisfying, believable, and left me wanting more.Read this book; you won't regret it.
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  • Kdawg91
    January 1, 1970
    Well, I walk into 2018 and get proven wrong, RIGHT out the gate. First of all, spoilers, I am a huge fan of Myke Cole. However, I didn't figure he could top my beloved Shadow Ops universe. I apologize Mr. Cole.The Armored Saint knocks it out of the park, Myke's move in dark epic fantasy is a punch in the mouth and after he smiles at you and you ask for another. The only way to describe this book is terrific top to bottom. I want more, I want the next installment and I wanted it two days ago.Get Well, I walk into 2018 and get proven wrong, RIGHT out the gate. First of all, spoilers, I am a huge fan of Myke Cole. However, I didn't figure he could top my beloved Shadow Ops universe. I apologize Mr. Cole.The Armored Saint knocks it out of the park, Myke's move in dark epic fantasy is a punch in the mouth and after he smiles at you and you ask for another. The only way to describe this book is terrific top to bottom. I want more, I want the next installment and I wanted it two days ago.Get on it, Mr. Cole.highest rating, 340495 out of 5 stars, (yes it's not even math, more of an abstract expression, geez)
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  • Lynette
    January 1, 1970
    FTC Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the publisher. That in no way influences my opinion or feelings on this book. My opinions are my own. The Armored Saint takes you by the shoulders and yanks you through a world of religious tension and the idea of right and wrong and how it isn't always easy to tell the difference. Full review to come closer to release date but you definitely need to pick this up if you love grimdark fantasy that keeps you on your toes.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    A thankfully short read (really, after reading so many huge fantasy tomes, I am grateful for a shorter book) that sets up an interesting world with interesting characters. There is a pervading sense of dread practically from the first page through to the end. It feels a little like "fantasy 1984" with some interesting twists that keep things fresh and interesting.
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  • Patrick St-Denis
    January 1, 1970
    If you've been following the Hotlist for a while, you have heard me complain that it often feels as though Myke Cole remains one of the genre's best-kept secrets. Not everyone is a military fantasy fan, yet his two series are as accessible as they are captivating. It's been years since I last encountered a fantasy series with so much mass appeal and there's nothing I would like more than to see these books get more widely read and enjoyed. Both the Shadow Ops and the Gemini Cell trilogies were f If you've been following the Hotlist for a while, you have heard me complain that it often feels as though Myke Cole remains one of the genre's best-kept secrets. Not everyone is a military fantasy fan, yet his two series are as accessible as they are captivating. It's been years since I last encountered a fantasy series with so much mass appeal and there's nothing I would like more than to see these books get more widely read and enjoyed. Both the Shadow Ops and the Gemini Cell trilogies were fun, intelligent, action-packed, and entertaining reads. From early on, you could tell that Cole would become one of speculative fiction's brightest new voices. And he did. In this house at least.Fast forward a couple of years and all six of the author's novels ended up in my SFF Top 10 of the year they were released. Alas, Ace and Headline declined to publish another series set in the same universe, so there won't be any additional Shadow Ops installments for the foreseeable future. It's a shame, as far as I'm concerned, for Cole writes military fantasy with heart and soul. With things pretty much up in the air, though Cole is currently shopping around material for potential book deals, The Sacred Throne, this new fantasy trilogy published by Tor.com, might be his only speculative fiction work coming out in the next two or three years.Bummer, that goes without saying. But a new Myke Cole book is always something to look forward to! And yet, The Armored Saint is a totally different creature, which means that it can almost be considered another debut for the author. Indeed, Cole is switching subgenres and it's not just a question of writing a new series set in a new setting. It remains to be seen whether or not military fantasy readers will be willing to give The Armored Saint a shot. Especially since Cole's political posts on social media have already cost him a chunk of his readership. There are other aspects that might make existing fans reticent, chief among them the relatively small size of this new work and the expensive hardcover price tag attached to it. I mean, they may call it a novel, but weighing in at 208 pages makes The Armored Saint more of a big novella or novelette. Regarding the price, the hard copy will be more than twice the price of his mass market paperback releases and for about half the papgecount. In terms of value for your hard-earned dollar, that might scare some readers away. Hopefully not, but these are elements that will definitely play against the author and Tor.com.Still, this one was billed as epic fantasy/grimdark, which means that it could win Myke Cole a lot of new fans that don't necessarily read military fantasy. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to reading The Armored Saint.Here's the blurb:Myke Cole, star of CBS's Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series, debuts the Sacred Throne epic fantasy trilogy with The Armored Saint, a story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthrall epic fantasy readers of all ages.In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.First of all, it must be said that this is not grimdark. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Not sure where that claim came from, but it is totally false. No matter from which angle you look at it, and regardless of what can ultimately be considered grimdark or not, The Armored Saint just isn't grimdark. Nor is it truly epic fantasy, at least not this first volume. True, there are elements that, if built upon, could become so down the line. Though the size of these novels (if subsequent installments are about the same length at this book) might preclude their ever being considered epic fantasy. Not sure who applied these labels when the marketing for The Armored Saint began and it probably doesn't matter at this point. It's more dark fantasy than anything else, if you ask me. It will be interesting to see what the two sequels bring to the dance because this one is more of a brief introduction than a stand-alone work.The worldbuilding was compelling and showed a lot of promise. Sadly, Cole played his cards way too close to his chest and didn't elaborate on most concepts and ideas that he introduced. Given the novelette-length of this work, one has to wonder why this is the case. I mean, a few more pages and more information would have elevated this tale to another level. Of course, forthcoming installments may do just that. But it makes me wonder why so little was revealed in The Armored Saint. The more absorbing the first volume, the more chances are that readers will line up for the sequels. The premise is simple enough. The backdrop for Heloise's story is a pseudo-medieval environment in which everyone is living under the yoke of an oppressive empire whose rule is enforced by a religious order bound by the Emperor's Holy Writ. Suffer no wizard to live. Such is the Order's most important rule. Simple and straightforward, or so it appears. Yet I would have liked to discover more about the Emperor, the Palantines, the Order, with its Sojourners and Pilgrims, the war in which Heloise's father and other villagers fought in, the war-machines inside the vault, etc. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be.In terms of atmosphere, the overall feel made me think of Jeff Saylards' Bloodsounder's Arc and Brandon Sanderson's early works like Elantris and the Mistborn series. Regarding Sanderson, the resemblance has more to do with the fact that everything is more or less black-and-white and not with any of the storylines. This was a bit of a disappointment for me, as Myke Cole usually writes in shades of gray and there is always more than meets the eye. Another inspiration has to be the Warhammer 40,000 books and universe.I'm surprised that very few people mentioned this, but the writing is clearly YA in style and tone. And a bona fide YA effort à la Suzanne Collins, not something an author wrote, toned down and dumbed down a bit, hoping to appeal to a younger readership. My question is: Why not mention this? Afraid of the YA stigma? I mean, this is the most lucrative market out there for speculative fiction writers, so why not try to pitch this one to the appropriate audience? It would make perfect sense. Perhaps because of the budding lesbianism found in this tale? I have no idea. In the end, this explained why The Armored Saint lacked all the shades of gray and substance that has made Myke Cole one of my favorite SFF authors writing today. Too black-and-white and straightforward, it doesn't deliver the way Cole's novels habitually do. Still, I'm persuaded that this could be a huge commercial success if they could tap into the YA market.Heloise started off as a simple village girl who is forced to overcome great odds to become the heroine of this book. Her heart is always in the right place and she means well, but I do have a problem with her. Like most teenagers, she lets her emotions get the better of her and that puts her into problematic situations. Trouble is, Heloise's well-intentioned stupidity and headstrong stubbornness have cost the lives of two of her closest friends, and her actions have destroyed the lives of everyone she has ever known. True, she has shown valor and bravery. But that doesn't mean much if it ends up costing the life of everyone who has ever been dear to you. Especially given the fact that she's responsible for everything that took place. Loyalty, forbidden love, and friendship are themes that are explored throughout The Armored Saint, and I'm curious to see where Cole is going with this story.There are no pacing issues. The novelette format precludes pitfalls such as massive info-dumps and the rhythm keeps the tale moving at a good clip. Unfortunately, the ending was telegraphed by the midway point of the book, which made the endgame quite predictable. This was disappointing, as Myke Cole usually keeps readers guessing till the very end.When all is said and done, The Armored Saint was little more than a short introduction meant to establish the premise and the characters. Time will tell if the upcoming installments will elevate this trilogy to another level of originality and quality. And though I may not have enjoyed this one as much as I wanted, experience has taught me to never to bet against Myke Cole and I'm curious to read the second volume.For more reviews, check out www.fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com.
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  • malrubius
    January 1, 1970
    Please see my review in Grimdark Magazine #13, coming Jan 1, 2018.
  • Kam
    January 1, 1970
    And then there is Heloise. On one hand, I find her mildly irritating, but on the other hand I also understand that my irritation comes from the fact that Heloise is still sixteen – a teenager. She reacts to things the way any young woman of that age would: on impulse, and according to her feelings, not her head. This leads her to do and say things that, in more ways than one, help to precipitate the events in the story’s climax. Those events break her, true, but they do not break her totally. Th And then there is Heloise. On one hand, I find her mildly irritating, but on the other hand I also understand that my irritation comes from the fact that Heloise is still sixteen – a teenager. She reacts to things the way any young woman of that age would: on impulse, and according to her feelings, not her head. This leads her to do and say things that, in more ways than one, help to precipitate the events in the story’s climax. Those events break her, true, but they do not break her totally. That is something I find very interesting indeed – not least because this is clearly a grimdark story, and usually grimdark stories don’t leave much room for hope. And yet there it is, a small spark in Heloise’s spirit that continues to burn despite the growing dark. I am very much looking forward to seeing what becomes of her, and her altered circumstances change the world around her.Full review here: https://wp.me/p21txV-F2
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I read the advanced reading copy of this novel. I haven't read any of Myke Cole's other works, so I did not know what to expect. This story drew me in from the beginning and it continued to hold my attention to the end. While it took me a little bit of time to understand world he had created (with the Writ, an Emperor, the Order, wizardry, etc), it didn't hinder my overall enjoyment. Each time I sat down to read more of the story, I became more invested in the characters and had to stop myself f I read the advanced reading copy of this novel. I haven't read any of Myke Cole's other works, so I did not know what to expect. This story drew me in from the beginning and it continued to hold my attention to the end. While it took me a little bit of time to understand world he had created (with the Writ, an Emperor, the Order, wizardry, etc), it didn't hinder my overall enjoyment. Each time I sat down to read more of the story, I became more invested in the characters and had to stop myself from glancing ahead because I wanted to know what was coming up. I love how the main character of Heloise has an innate sense of right and wrong and still has to live in a world where patriarchy is thrown in her face. I also love how the fact that she is queer is both an emotional struggle as well as a source of strength for her as the story progresses.This book laid a solid foundation for the rest of the series. It is full of action, conflict, and emotion. I want to know what happens to Heloise and the rest of the village, and I look forward to seeing how her character develops.
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  • Jacey
    January 1, 1970
    Not due for publication until March 2018. I had this short novel (maybe a novella) for review as an advance reading copy from Netgalley. This is a fantasy setting in which, following some kind of religious war, bands of holy warriors—the Order—have the power to root out and kill wizards without trial, often cruelly. If they decide a village is sheltering a wizard, there’s no mercy. Supposedly wizardry opens up the way for hell’s demons to come through into the world—and no one wants that. Helois Not due for publication until March 2018. I had this short novel (maybe a novella) for review as an advance reading copy from Netgalley. This is a fantasy setting in which, following some kind of religious war, bands of holy warriors—the Order—have the power to root out and kill wizards without trial, often cruelly. If they decide a village is sheltering a wizard, there’s no mercy. Supposedly wizardry opens up the way for hell’s demons to come through into the world—and no one wants that. Heloise and her father meet up with the Order on the road to the next village, Hammersdown, and Heloise talks back, never a good idea. Her initial mistakes are compounded and eventually everyone suffers for it. Later the order takes it out on Hammersdown and Heloise is forced to see things that no one should have to see. It’s inevitable, therefore, that the order comes looking for Heloise and her family. Character-driven, this is a deep study of Heloise in adversity but the supporting characters work well, too. The writing is visceral. It drew me in quickly and didn’t let me go, even delivering something unexpected at the end.
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  • Rags
    January 1, 1970
    Well written but annoying. The story is told through the main character's eyes, a young girl of sixteen, who lives in a world where anyone doing magic is consumed by devils who are then released into the world. So groups of pilgrims go around killing anyone suspected of doing magic. The heroine talks back to one of the pilgrims who comes after her and her father. She is saved by her friend who does magic to save her, becomes a monster, and she kills the monster with a armoured suit. The world bu Well written but annoying. The story is told through the main character's eyes, a young girl of sixteen, who lives in a world where anyone doing magic is consumed by devils who are then released into the world. So groups of pilgrims go around killing anyone suspected of doing magic. The heroine talks back to one of the pilgrims who comes after her and her father. She is saved by her friend who does magic to save her, becomes a monster, and she kills the monster with a armoured suit. The world building is subtle, no long expository text, and the audience is left to figure out the world on its own. The major annoyance for me is precisely the heroine. Every single problem in the book is because of her stupidity. She may be a teenager but doesn't seem to have a lick of common sense. And no wonder. Despite all the questionable choices she makes, the adults in the tale are uniformly supportive and encouraging. That in itself, seems to be completely unrealistic.
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  • Jon
    January 1, 1970
    Super short book, I think my total read time was something like five hours. Steady and solid for the first two-thirds of the book, and then Myke opens up a fifty gallon drum of whoopass and inundates the final third. Some very interesting twists that I was pleased to see, and I'll be impatiently biding my time until the next installment arrives. Bravo, sir. Keep up the good work.
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