The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne Book 1) is a short novel, maybe novella (not sure how many words exactly are in it, but let’s just say it’s at most like 1/10 of a Sanderson). I read it last night in basically one sitting (I ate dinner in the middle). I’ve never read anything by Myke Cole before, and more or less only know him from his author bio (paladins, really?… I kid… I kid.) and from him popping up from on my twitter feed. I didn’t know what to expect from the author or the book, save that there was a young woman in a huge suit of armor on the cover. It pleasantly surprised me in a few ways, and I’m happy to recommend it.It leans into its length. It has a quick pace that pulled me through the narrative quickly. In very few words, Cole built a world that feels wider than what the narrative presents. The world feels lived in, deep, and believable (perhaps too believably evocative of our own past… or, terrifyingly, present).
The prose is wonderful and varied. When there’s violence, the violence is visceral, unvarnished, and powerful. The narrative voices of the characters are distinctive. Even the cursing believable within the worldbuilding (a pet interest of mine).
The action was wonderful, and superficially this is a story about someone standing up to a corrupt authority and the violence that is at times necessary to do so. But at its core it’s about much, much more. Since I’m not spoiling anything here, let’s just say that there’s a scene that demonstrated such empathy, vulnerability, and believable fear/excitement/shame that it has lingered with me since putting the book down. That scene is paired with a sequel (scene-sequel meaning) that reminded me of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Love is Love” poem from the 2016 Tonys. It’s strange to get to the end of a review of a book that has a fight scene involving power armor and to recommend it for its introspection on love, but here we are.