n this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds–crippling injuries, religious tyrants–and continues her journey from obscurity to greateness 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.
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I may be a girl, Papa, she thought fiercely at him, as if the intensity of it could make him hear and understand, but I am the one they’ve chosen to follow.
Well, this was a violent rollercoaster ride of emotions. As with The Armored Saint, I’m completely astounded by the complexity and sentimentality and sheer amount of action packed into this series’ second novella, The Queen of Crows. Fierce conviction, empowerment, humility and, hope are carefully balanced with brutal battles, tragic loss, and horrific betrayal.
We begin right where we left off: Heloise Factor finding comfort in her second skin – a huge, tinker-forged war-machine, which separates her from the cruelties of the surrounding world. From within she has the strength to destroy demons, the confidence to challenge the Order, and the bravery to protect those she holds dear. With the threat of reprisal from the Order, Heloise must do whatever it takes to keep those from her village alive and devise a plan to put a stop to the crushing oppression caused by a group of powerful religious zealots. Her path is long and arduous, it’s seemingly impossible to grasp victory, but her determination propels her forward. She means to seize the freedom entitled to all.
Heloise may very well be one of the most iconic, intricately-developed female protagonists in modern fantasy. Exquisitely crafted, she’s unsure of her own capabilities, but steadfast in her beliefs and her intent to mold the world into something ideal, something to protect every walk of life encompassed within. With the weight that has been placed on her shoulders, it’s oftentimes difficult to keep in mind she’s a teenage girl, but Cole does a wonderful job of reminding us by allowing us to witness a charm only a child can possess. Her progression throughout is truly remarkable, as she transforms from an idealistic village girl into the figurehead of a revolution, a tactician with the fate of many in her hands.
Cole’s characterization is impeccable, introducing a large cast for the size and scope of the story, yet finely breathing life into each and every one of them. Something we don’t often see is a focus on the harrowing decisions, and their effects, all leaders face – compromise, sacrifice, the few versus the many. Throughout this book, we observe the struggles and difficulties faced by several key characters in leadership positions on the inevitable road to war, demanding we realize them as flawed humans and not something more.
This story is told with such flowing, beautiful prose, and precise detail, clearly painting the conflict that practically drips from the pages. Emotions are portrayed in such a way that that cause you to feel them deep within. Battles are described with such vivid imagery, accurately depicting the true horrors of warfare. Hope consistently radiates throughout the darkness and there certainly isn’t a shortage of shocking occurrences to draw you further in.
The Queen of Crows is a gripping, emotional tale of perseverance, of love and acceptance, and of finding one’s true purpose. It’s a superb addition to The Sacred Throneseries and I’m really looking forward to continuing the fight for justice in The Killing Light.