Tag Archives: SF/F

Review: The Armored Saint

The Armored Saint
by
Myke Cole

Title: The Armored Saint
Author:   Myke Cole
Published: 2018
ISBN-13: 9780765395955
Publisher: Tor
Twitter:  @MykeCole
Publisher’s Blurb:  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.
What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture

The Armored Saint is book 1 in The Sacred Throne trilogy:
Book 1 –  The Armored Saint | Book 3  – The Killing Light

Her wounds sang out with every movement, but it was an old song to her now, sung so many times that she knew the words by heart.  She was good at hurting.  (p 186)

I blame Scalzi again.  He’s also one of the reasons I read Richard Kadrey, and have a never-ending wish-list culled from his Big Idea feature.

Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint is more than just a coming of age story.  It’s about family, right and wrong, identity and, love.  Heloise may only be 16 but she is badass in so many ways, and has become a character I want to know better.

Set in a medieval village ruled by a heavy-handed religious government called the Order, The Armored Saint is the story of Heloise, a teenager who questions everything she’s been taught.  And you know how dictator governments hate that, especially in women.

Myke Cole wrote Heloise for me.  For the woman who questioned things and didn’t understand why she was treated so harshly.  Only Heloise is surrounded by those who love her, and while conflicted about her questioning, protect her from being hunted down and killed by the Order.

Wizardry is not allowed.  Period.  Wizardry opens the portals for demons to crawl through.  Anyone who’s different gets killed.  Including, and especially, the mentally ill.  The man, Churic, normally quiet and described as “simple,”  has a fit one day.  Frothing at the mouth, purple skinned, eye bugging fit.  Which is seized upon as evil by the Order.  And the neighboring village, Heloise’s village is called upon to Knit Churic’s village.

Knitting is an horrific ritual, forcing those from one village to kill their friends in a neighboring village.  But it is in the Knitting that Heloise feels the power of all those questions, and the shoddy answers rise.  Her rebelliousness leaps out, putting her own village in danger, especially her father.  But she can’t help herself, what’s been going on is wrong, and evil, and she won’t stand for it any longer.

She may be 16, and small in stature, but girl is fierce.  And I love that Myke Cole wrote her to be the conflicted, flawed, insecure, brave hero she is.  She resonates through my very being and, I imagine, everyone who has ever questioned the status quo and been shunted aside.  Heloise is for those of us who want to be brave, but aren’t sure how.  She leads the way by living her truth, confusing as that may be.  She does it out of love.  And Cole shows in this brutal story that it is love which wins.  Whether he intended to or not, that’s what I got.

Heloise’s village hides her from the Order, and she comes out swinging.  The neighbor who hides her builds war-engines for the  Emperor to be used by his most fanatical officers in the army.  They are giant man-shaped machines, powered by seethestone, driven by men to grind everyone in their path to so much pulp.  (And while seethestone has a perfectly acceptable scientific method for working behind it, it seems a lot like magic to me.)

It is Heloise, broken and battered, and unwilling to give up the fight for those who have died at the hands of the Order who uses a war-engine to its most brutal advantage.  She is doing it for those she loved who died brutally, for those who could die brutally, and for herself.  Because, this shit will no longer stand.

In just over 200 pages, Heloise drives us through a paradigm shift.  From submissive to the Order, to mad as hell and refusing to put up with anyone’s nonsense anymore, she stands for what she believes in.  Which, of course, is in direct opposition to what the Order orders her to believe in.

Battered and bruised, Heloise becomes the sainted one who will lead the rest into battle.  At least, that’s what her neighbors tell her.  “No,” she says, “I’m not the hero you’re looking for.  I’m not brave or strong or anything.  I’m broken and hurting, and scared by the brutality I’ve been witness to, and have committed.  You’ve got the wrong girl.”

The rest of the story comes in the next two books, and I am so looking forward to following Heloise on her quest, standing by her side as I continue to heal from my own brokenness and find ways to say, “This shit will not stand,” in my own life.

Thank you Myke Cole, for this book and the books to come.  And thank you for Heloise, the hero we all need in this time and place.

New to the Stacks: Madeleine L’Engle

An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Like a Lotus by Madeleine L’Engle
The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle
Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Many Waters – read
  • The Arm of the Starfish – read
  • A House Like a Lotus – read
  • An Acceptable Time – read

New to the Stacks: Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman
The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

Some evil, evil book warbler insisted upon telling me about this series about an interdimensional library, librarian spies … and dragons! I was helpless in this warbler’s clutches. Good thing I had birthday money to spend.

  • The Masked Cityread
  • The Burning Pageread
  • The Lost Plotread

New to the Stacks: Sandman Slim, Angel Crawford (Zombie) and, Kara Gillian (Demon)



Legacy of the Demon by Diana Rowland- read
White Trash Zombie Gone Wild  by Diana Rowland- Review
How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diana Rowland – Review
The Kill Society by Richard Kadrey

Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One
Author:  Ernest Cline
Published: 2011
ISBN-13: 9780804190138
Publisher: Broadway Books
Twitter: @ErnieCline
Publisher’s Blurb:

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

I saw the movie with co-workers who are gamers and were so excited I could hardly stand it.  My opinion of the whole deal was, at best, neutral.  My knowledge of Ready Player One was only this was a really popular book, and at least one friend loathed it.

What a perfect escapist film.  Bright, fast, flashy, filled with 1980s pop culture references that had my co-workers talking excitedly for days.  I was bemused.  Then one of them loaned her copy of the book to me.  She was so excited to share it with me.

Perfect escapist fare again. Ready Player One is wish fulfillment 101.  It’s like Cline took every reference from 1980s pop culture and crammed it into a “wouldn’t it be cool if ….” version of “my life sucks and I was really happy back then.”  Which is, pointedly, harsh and maybe a bit unfair to Cline. Because we all have wish fulfillment fantasies, mine is comfortable surroundings on a golden beach surrounded by books and all the time to read them.

Pollution, poverty, climate change, unemployment have all reached their logical conclusion in 2045.  It’s no wonder people would rather be in OASIS, the virtual world created by James Halliday, than anywhere else.  And, like everything else in any world, the rich and powerful want even more.

Wade is the one-dimensional hero.  The teenager who’s smarter and cooler than everyone else, saving the day from the big bad corporation who wants to take over OASIS and profit from it.  Halliday’s death spurs an all out 3-riddle solving winner takes all contest for ownership.  Wade’s team of five against IOI’s massive army of employees whose only job it is to research Halliday’s life and 1980s trivia, or strap up in game harnesses and play until they pass out.

The teenagers win.  Wade gets the girl, the fortune and the power to turn OASIS off one day a week so everyone can reconnect to the “real world.”  That’s pretty much it.  Nothin’ deep or complex.  Just a good mind candy afternoon read.

Although I’m sure my co-workers would disagree about the meaning of all those Easter Eggs.

 

Review: Hogfather

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Hogfather
by Terry Pratchett

Title: Hogfather
Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 2000
ISBN-13: 9780062276285
Publisher: Harper Fiction

As nonsensical as Pratchett’s Discworld books may seem, they often make a great deal of sense. Hogfather pokes fun at old gods, evolving gods, power, and belief systems. There’s even an “oh god,” as in “oh god I’m gonna be sick.”

The Hogfather is Discworld’s version of Santa Claus, and things go very, very far astray forcing Death to step in and try to put things right, while his granddaughter tries to behave like a normal person.

And I always enjoy reading Death trying to understand humans, and trying to behave as though he’s human when needed.  Usually with very confusing results for the humans he encounters.  Think Nightmare Before Christmas when Jack Skellington  tries to introduce Christmas joy to Halloween Town.

 

Review: The Truth

The Truth
The Truth
by Terry Pratchett

Title: The Truth
Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 2000
ISBN-13:  9780380818198
Publisher: Harper Torch

William deWorde has a newsletter he sends to rich people who pay him to write about the gossip in Ankh-Morpork. The dwarves move in with a mechanical printer and make a deal with deWorde to publish more frequently. Soon, Ankh-Moorpark has two papers, one which publishes the truth as deWorde has been able to ferret out, and the truth people want to believe. DeWorde gets wind of a story which is politically dangerous, and find himself in danger.

It may be heresy to say, but I think Pratchett is funnier than Douglas Adams. And Pratchett’s silliness in my kind of silliness.  And while they’re silly,  Pratchett’s books are also social commentary. The Truth is about facts, truth, justice and what people want to believe is true. It also features mayhem, but then all of Terry Pratchett’s books feature mayhem of one sort or another.