Tag Archive: Myke Cole


Sometimes I’m lucky enough to read two wildly different genres by the same author. The last time I had the chance to review one of Myke Cole’s works was a couple years ago, this is actually his first book with Angry Robot. I got to read it for review thanks to netGalley, here’s Sixteenth Watch. Enjoy!

Sixteenth Watch cover

After a riot between Helium 3 miners evolves into a brief, tragic armed conflict between American and Chinese naval forces career Search-and-Rescue woman Captain Jane Oliver is returned to Earth and a teaching position away from the sixteenth watch and the death of her husband. But tensions remain high and the best hope of preventing the first lunar war rests with the Coast Guard. Oliver has a new mission, return to the moon, get the Coast Guard SAR-1 team ready to win this year’s Boarding Action, and prove that they are the right force to keep the peace.

Myke Cole’s Sixteenth Watch feels like a bit of an odd duck when it comes to military science fiction. It feels more character focused and less hard sci-fi than other military sci-fi I have read in the past. How things are done is important, but pulling the team together is more so. Each member of the SAR-1 team is the best at what they do in the Coast Guard, but they have issues jelling with each other.

This is also the most anti-war military sci-fi that I have ever read. The entire reason Oliver is there is because the Coast Guard are a better fit for policing the folks avoiding quarantine without starting an armed conflict than the Navy is. The goal is to avoid a war, to keep things cold as it were, to keep people not only on the moon but also back on Earth safe.

But the only way to convince people to take them seriously is to win what is essentially a massive sporting event, so she has to get the Coast Guard team ready to secure a victory against the Marine team that has won several years running. It kind of winds up being funny, how the ability to keep war from breaking out on the moon is dependent on them winning what’s essentially a sporting event, but it is treated dead seriously and a lot of the challenges Oliver faces wind up being in service to getting her team the kind of practice they need to come together as a team. In a lot of ways that takes the place of a proper antagonist, no single person is standing between the SAR-1 team and active work and the Marine team is brilliantly good at what they do rather than antagonistic. That lack of a direct antagonist feels to the book’s credit. It would be weird if there was just one person actively pushing for the Coast Guard team to fail, rather than any number of people following orders that happened to get in their way or following their own need to see someone else succeed or getting wrapped up in the idea that a war is going to happen so they need to be backing the Navy over the Coast Guard. It is a complicated situation that Cole chose not to simplify.

This actually stands in something of a contrast to the pacing and the characters other than Oliver and her XO. At several points in the plot I found myself naming off the part of the hero’s journey that was coming up. This is very much not a complaint, the hero’s journey is the basis for a lot of stories, but it did make the flow of things a little predictable. I would have liked to have seen more character for the SAR-1 team, a lot of Sixteenth Watch is focused on Oliver working towards getting the team ready and working through the trauma of the events of the beginning of the book, which does not leave much space for the Boarding Action team. I would have liked to have seen more of them growing together as a unit and more individual growth for each of them. But, again, that is mostly a personal quibble the team are not the focus of the book. Oliver is the protagonist, so of course she gets the most focus on her arc.

Ultimately Sixteenth Watch leaves me wanting more, if not a further series with these characters, then more writing in a similar vein from Cole. He is definitely an author I am going to try and keep a better eye on now. This one gets a five out of five from me.

Thank you all for being patient with me this week. It’s been kind of a rough one, but I think I’ve got a hold on it again. This week’s book is from the folks at Tor.com. This is Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint. Enjoy!

The Armored Saint cover

The Writ teaches that wizardry is foul in the eyes of the Emperor, that it reaches to hell itself to give its user profane powers not meant for mortal man. The Writ teaches that a wizard must be stoned to prevent them tearing a portal open and allowing devils into the world once more. The Order is to be called if wizardry is suspected, to protect the people and knit the damage before it can be worsened. This, Heloise knows by heart. The Order demands obedience, subservience, a bended knee from the villagers who serve it more than it serves them. Heloise had never realized this until a brother of the Order abused her father’s tools and materials, wasting valuable paper just because he could. She had never had reason to question until the Order rounded up her village to help knit the neighboring town, a slaughter worse than any brigands could have visited. The Writ says that the Order is to be trusted and relied upon, they have proven that they cannot be.

Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint is a dark fantasy novella that, in a number of ways, I really wish had been expanded on more.  The world building is fairly solid, though I feel like it could have been worked in more. I largely enjoyed the characters and would have wanted to see more of them outside of the main story conflict.

So, let’s start with the world building. We get a fair amount about the religion of the setting and about the Order and how much of a threat they are, particularly to small out of the way villages like the one Heloise lives in. The Order as a threat and as corrupt is shown fantastically well right from the beginning. There’s enough on the day to day workings of the village and the expectations people live with under the Writ that the society feels functional if also very much like the fantasy novel version of things. Wizardry though, wizardry doesn’t get dug into much given that it is a dangerous forbidden thing and, at least theoretically, the entire reason the Order is hanging around. There are a number of reasons I’d have like to see more with it. It feels like wizardry should play a fairly large role in the rest of the trilogy and setting it up here would make sense. Wizardry also serves more as a thing that we are told more about than shown though, so I’m a little frustrated there. As a side note, more time could have been given to how Heloise’s actions affect other characters or other characters reactions to her going against the Order.

I have similar feelings with the characters. There’s this really well worked out little knot of people who get a fair amount of work and Heloise gets a good amount of development. But then we have the antagonist who exists to be antagonistic and does nothing to suggest he is anything but a flat villain. Since the antagonist is also our face character for the Order that means that the entire group is cast in a flat light of villainy. It wouldn’t be an easy fix, but having an eye towards what people outside of our little knot of characters thinks could have been great. The ranger could have been great for filling in more of the world and allowed the reader to see more of what people think regarding outsiders.

There is a really interesting thing in The Armored Saint, world building wise. While the Order is show as flatly antagonistic and more out to pursue their own wants than actually protecting the people the Writ itself is shown repeatedly as a source of comfort for a number of characters. It sort of keeps the whole thing from sliding into “religion is evil” territory by allowing the common folk to keep their faith in the face of an obviously corrupt and morally bankrupt church militia. It makes for an interesting sort of situational foil.

Related to a lot of this, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It felt poorly supported and sort of out of nowhere. More page space as a generality would have been helpful leading up to it, particularly given that a lot of it could easily have been more lead into early on. This feels more than anything like a set up book with the ending tacked on because it needed one and the stakes needed to be higher for the next book. The set up itself is good, the world building generally works really well. I’m invested in finding out more about the setting and I want to see where this goes from here. But the end feels like it should have been done sometime during the next book and given time to percolate and build.

At the end of the day it does come down to the fact that I do really look forward to reading the second book. The Armored Saint was solid but ultimately affected by its nature as a novella instead of a full on novel. So, I feel like it earned a four out of five.