Author: Myke Cole
Release: September 18th 2018
Warnings: Graphic injuries, animal death
I received a copy of The Queen of Crows from Tor in exchange for a fair and honest review.
It’s hard to believe that there’s any possible way to follow up The Armored Saint, but The Queen of Crows proves that it is in fact, quite possible. If you ask me, The Killing Light has very big shoes to fill…granted I think that Myke Cole has proven that he’s more than up for the task.
If you haven’t read The Armored Saint, then you should really stop reading this review now, and consider picking up a copy of that one first. It’s probably fairly obvious, but what happens in this book has some pretty major spoilers for the ending of The Armored Saint.
I’ll confess that when I first picked up The Sacred Throne trilogy I was a bit…hesitant about the whole thing. It sounded interesting, but I had concerns about the follow through (that had everything to do with the plot, and nothing to do with the author) and given subject matter. To put it bluntly, I was concerned about just how religious this series would be.
As it turns out, while the world these characters live in is undoubtedly religious, and thus a major factor to the series itself…it isn’t overwhelming. Many are actively fighting against the lives they’ve been forced to live. None more so than the main character, Heloise.
Heloise is exactly the sort of character this plot needed. She’s strong, stubborn, and she so very much doesn’t fit into the mold that society has made for her. She never wanted to grow up and marry, to find end up essentially barefoot and pregnant. None of that sounded appealing to her, and really, when you put it like that, who can blame her?
While Heloise had no interest in the life society wanted for her, she still had her own hopes and dreams. She still found love – even if it wasn’t reciprocated and to this day causes her pain. That’s part of being human, and it makes her character so much more approachable than she otherwise would have been. It also makes her a perfect champion.
Warnings first: There are a few graphic injuries that occur in this book. If you’ve read The Armored Saint, this will probably come as no surprise to you. However, I am aware that people find different injury depictions more graphic than others. Specifically I’m talking about eye injuries. So if this is the sort of thing that’s upsetting to you…well consider yourself warned. As far as the animal death is concerned; most of it pertains to horses. This isn’t terribly shocking, since we’re talking about a war where people would ride horses into battle. These scenes are mostly pretty quick, and you can usually see it coming.
I still can’t get over the transition that has come over Heloise. And no, I’m not talking about a religious sort of transition. While many of her townspeople are willing to consider Heloise a saint, she has never once made that claim for herself. I adore that about her. What I am actually referring to is just how much Heloise has grown up, and in such a short amount of time.
Time and time again during The Queen of Crows we see Heloise standing up and making life and death decisions for her people. More often than not, she’s the most responsible one of the group – making the best decisions she can out of the options she can.
Unlike many other people around her, Heloise never forgets that the people following her, as well as the others she comes across, are human first and foremost. That fact doesn’t change; regardless of gender, race, or religion. I love that this is never something she questions. In fact, as far as I’m concerned she quickly became a champion for all that wanted freedom to be themselves, regardless of what that actually meant to them.
I don’t think Heloise started out with the intention of becoming a freedom fighter, but in the end, that is sort of what she became. I’ve loved watching Heloise get to this point – though I may have winced and cried along the way as she had dealt with her many injuries and losses.
In regards to the actual plot and the battles it brought about; I’m impressed. I found every moment of what happened believable, but more than that – Myke Cole made me care about everything that was happening, from start to finish. While Heloise (and the horses) was without a doubt my main concern, I did fear for many of the side characters during each and every one of the battles. I felt their losses acutely each time – it was like an empty space opened up in the book where they belonged. Rarely have I experienced something quite that intense for relatively minor characters. I think that speaks highly of Myke Cole’s writing skills.
I was shocked when the end of the book was upon me. I’m sure that was mostly due to how immersed I was. Though I do believe that the final battle was significantly shorter than expected (considering this fact probably saved lots of fictional lives, I’m actually okay with that). The final twist at the end was unexpected, and I’ll be curious to see where that leads us.
I’m both anxious and nervous about the arrival of The Killing Light. Part of me desperately wants to see how this all concludes…the rest of me is too busy worrying how much the conclusion will cost Heloise and everyone else she loves.