Archive for January, 2019

Book Review- “The Armored Saint” by Myke Cole

January 30, 2019 Leave a comment

When it comes to fantasy novels I used to strictly be a sword and sorcery guy. I still prefer Conan over Frodo, but in recent years I’ve been convinced to give “Epic armored saintFantasy” novels another chance. I’m glad I did because I’ve discovered a number of books in the genre that I like. The most recent epic fantasy novel to fall under that category? Myke Cole’s “The Armored Saint,” the kick-off to his “Sacred Throne” series. I finished it today and I loved it.

What first grabbed my attention about “The Armored Saint” was the world it’s set in. It’s a place of dangerous magic, violent and corrupt holy orders, and monstrous demons. As a fan of things like “Warhammer 40,000” and “The Dragon Age” series of video games I’m fascinated by those things, and Cole does a pretty great job putting his own unique spin on those sort of tropes. They are a fascinating part of the world he builds in “The Armored Saint.”

I especially loved the way Cole introduces those elements and the over all setting of the book. He doesn’t push you into the deep end of this fantasy world with loads and loads of exposition. You find out the basics right away, but the rest unfolds naturally. It’s almost sort of a mystery; one I found very engaging. You find out about major historical events, like wars, via characters who experienced them first hand and have the physical and emotional scars that come from such experiences. You also find out that things like magic aren’t necessarily black and white. Instead they’re very gray hued.

So there’s a lot more I could tell you about the plot of the book, but I feel like it would run it and some of the surprises. I will say though that the character we join on a journey of discovery about the true nature of her world and herself is a great one. Her name is Heloise and she’s a 16 year old girl with a huge heart. So you root for and you also empathize when she encounters tragedies and horrors both man made and supernatural.

In “The Armored Saint” Heloise’s world is a small one for the most part. It’s mainly just her village and some of the surrounding areas, but I like that. It gave us themyke cole chance to really get to know some fascinating and great characters. My favorites were her burly father Samson, her best friend Basina, and the mysterious wanderer known as Clodio. It also gave Cole the chance to give us a full picture of this portion of the world. “The Armored Saint” is short for an epic fantasy novel, but I don’t feel like Cole skimped or left anything important out.

The book also shines in terms of tone and fantastical elements. There is a lot of horror and brutality in the series, and much of it is man made. It gives the book a sense of power and poignancy and when characters make a stand you’re ready to cheer them on. Cole also handles supernatural horror and combat really well. The climax of the book involves a fight between a monster and Heloise who is clad in a really cool suit of armor.

So, there were a number of reasons why I really loved “The Armored Saint.” Like I said, it’s short for an epic fantasy novel, but it’s jam packed with the stuff of great stories. It’s like a classic Ramones song done up as a fantasy story. It’s short, but it shreds, and it leaves you wanting more. Which is great, because as I also mentioned, there are more books in the series. I can’t wait to pick up the next one, “The Queen of Crows.”

Categories: Book Review

Book Review- “Dark Imperium by Guy Haley

January 22, 2019 Leave a comment

dark imperiumWhen I first learned of Roboute Gulliman, the Primarch of the Ultramarines Legion of Space Marines, I couldn’t help, but make comparisons between him and my favorite comic book character, Steve Rogers AKA Captain America. Both Gulliman and Cap are blond haired, tactical geniuses, who favor the color blue, and are exemplars of the ideals they fight for. And when Games Workshop brought Gulliman back in 2017 he and Steve Rogers came to share another trait; Both are men out of time. It’s a quality that’s made the Ultramarines Primarch even more interesting, and it’s just one of the many fascinating ideas explored in Guy Haley’s Warhammer 40,000 novel “Dark Imperium.”

Dark Imperium” is one of the first Black Library novels set in the new timelines established in 40K’s current 8th edition which saw Gulliman serving as Lord Commander and Regent of the Imperium, the Imperium split in half thanks to the destruction of Cadia and the emergence of a monstrous galactic rift, and the introduction of the next generation of Space Marines; the Primaris. So there’s a lot of ground to cover and ideas to explore in “Dark Imperium.”

For me, the primary reason why “Dark Imperium” shines is the character of Guy HaleyGulliman. We get to be part of his thought processes. We get to see him both be warrior and statesman, but best of all we see him come to grips with what his father’s Empire has become during his absence. Haley has a lot of fun with Gulliman’s culture shock and disdain for Imperium culture and aesthetic. He also gives the story some especially poignant moments where the Ultramarines Primarch must wrestle with some hard truths about his “father,” the Emperor of Mankind.

So Gulliman is a haunted and flawed character, but the other aspect of him that Haley captures perfectly is his inner nobility. He’s a character you can genuinely root for because he actually wants to bring reason back to the Imperium of Man and improve their crumbling government and infrastructure. That’s a breath of fresh air in the grim darkness that is the 41st millennium.

Gulliman may be Haley’s protagonist, but he’s not the only central character in “Dark Imperium” the series is jam packed with heroes both old and new. Fans of Graham McNeill’s Ultramarines series will enjoy a fun and poignant cameo early on. Plus, we spend some time with the Ultramarines Chapter Master Marneus Calgar and hear his inner conflicted thoughts on the return of his Primarch/gene father. That adds another organic and fascinating layer to the father/son relationship themes of the book.

Some of my favorite new characters included Captain Decimus Felix and Militant Apostolic Mathieu. Felix is part of the new generation of Primaris Space Marines and we get to spend a lot of time with him. He too is a man out of time. So it’s interesting to see how he reacts to things and to see through his eyes the role the new Primaris Space Marines play in the Imperium. Mathieu is the new chief religious figure in Gulliman’s imperium, and he’s a fascinating figure to bounce off Gulliman because the Ultramarines Primarch doesn’t believe his father was a god. So they have an interesting dynamic and some fascinating dialogues.

So “Dark Imperium” is a story of great heroes and epic action, but it’s also a chilling tale of supernatural horror. Because the antagonists of the novel are the fearsome Death Guard, the Chaos Space Marine Legion lead by Mortarion that serves the god of diseases and death, Nurgle. Haley has a lot of fun leaning into the gruesome and horrifying nature of the Death Guard. Plus there’s a great sense of cosmic horror when the Warp opens or we spend time with Mortarion on his flagship.

All of the elements I mentioned combined to make “Dark Imperium” a joy to read. Best of all it’s only the first book in what I believe a trilogy. I can’t wait to see what Haley has next in store for readers and to spend more time with the fascinating character that is Roboute Gulliman.