Heloise and her Murder of Crows
“Freedom is…it’s like a mountain. Impossibly high, impossibly steep.”
Myke Cole, star of CBS’s Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series is here with book two of the Sacred Throne Trilogy: The Queen of Crows.
In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds–crippling injuries, religious tyrants–and continues her journey from obscurity to greatness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.
No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and lay siege to the Imperial Palace itself.
“Not all can be so brave, and if you expect them to be, they will fail you again and again.”
Getting old is more than marking days off on a calendar. It is a state of mind. Age can happen over many years with slow growth, tremulously, and wobbly marching towards adulthood and old age. Or age can occur in an instant. It is marked by one moment, a precipice that you are thrown off of never to be the same. Heloise started this series as a child, naive, young and untested. Not any more. Heloise is an old soul now – battle-scarred, hardened, and worldly. In a way, her forced toughness is a little death.
The death of who Heloise could have been. She could have been someone’s wife, a mother, and a partner. Maybe Heloise can be those things in the future. If she can survive the coming events. She has already lost pieces of herself, more than the physical (an arm, and now an eye.) Maybe those are things that she no longer wants.
We have a lot of maybes at the end of book two.
What I can tell you is that this book is nearly as good as the first one. (please see my glowing review here) I said that Heloise is the hero that we need now. It still holds I think Heloise is the hero that this story needs and the hero that we, as a society, need to read. We need strong female characters that are not written into the corner of false insusceptibility. The vulnerability can be a strength if one can conquer it. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the power to overcome weakness and terror to do what needs to be done. Heloise does that. Cole has written a female character outside of the archetypes. Authors either write female warrior characters as fearless and invulnerable, which is false and frankly lazy. Or they write them as needy. They need to be saved, and usually, that is by some hunky and strong man. Heloise is neither. She is vulnerable, and the epitome of strength all rolled into an iron machine set to save and free her people. Heloise needs to be protected by no one, not her parents or the traveling people. This is her duty, and she understands what fear is. But fear will not conquer her.
The insane thing is that Cole is doing this inside of 250 pages.
“Getting old’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But it’s taught me that…that life is like being a mouse caught in a river current. So much of living is simply trying to keep from going under long enough to ride the water to its end.”
The story starts right as we left off from the first book. Heloise is in the thick of things. The first novel of the series, The Armoured Saint, is about Heloise shedding her childhood. While the second, Queen of Crows, is about her accepting the mantle of leadership and what that means. Interestingly, Cole gives us a new character group called the Traveling People. They are the antithesis of the villagers, both in religion and personality. This opens up the story to ingrained prejudices on both sides and how that plays out when put into hairy situations where one must rely on the other for survival. One thing they do have in common is an enemy in The Order. Even the names that Cole chose are clever. The order: a group is adhering to an orderly and systematic belief structure. The Traveling People: wild and free unbound by rigidity. The Villagers: a group right in the middle, ordinary people. These names reinforce the worldbuilding that Cole does and helps create those identities in the three groups.
I say that this is almost as good as the first one. This was a close thing 4.5 stars instead of 5. Some of the turns in the plot felt a little shaky to me. Especially those with the traveling people and I won’t go into specifics, because why ruin it.
The Queen of Crows is an incredible book. Dark and grim, but with the occasional glimmer of hope amongst the pain. This story is Grimdark done right. I can not wait to read the next one; if it is anything like the previous two, then I am in for a wild ride. The final book in this series comes out on November 12th.
Get to reading, so you are ready for it.
About The Author
As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counterterrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. After hunting terrorists and criminals in real life, he kept up the job on TV, first tracking fugitives on CBS’ 2017 show Hunted, and UFOs on Discovery Channel’s 2019 show Contact.
All that conflict can wear a guy out. Thank goodness for fantasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dungeons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing.