Recently, the third book in Myke Cole’s Sacred Throne trilogy, The Killing Light, came out. I decided to reread the entire series from the beginning so I could immerse myself as deep as possible. After doing so, I have some thoughts. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.
(Disclaimer, I consider Myke to be a friend and a mentor. He has graciously provided me with ARCs for all three novellas in this series, though I also bought copies for myself and others)
I think that one of the cleverest things that Myke did in the world building of this series is that he gave the bad guys a purpose. More than a purpose, Myke made the bad guys hold a function that is integral to ensuring the safety of the world. The Order’s goal, to protect the world from witchcraft and demons, is necessary. The Order’s belief that only THEY can protect the world from demon turns out to be true.
The antagonists of this novel turn out to be the only one’s capable of winning.
And that’s where I think the brilliance of this series is. While I love the examination of leaderships and bigotry and expectations that Myke gives us, to me, the way that Myke is able to show us that an entity can both be necessary, and important, and also fucking evil is something I think that’s underappreciated.
Myke’s background in the military, intel, and law enforcement, no doubt play a role in this. Anyone who has ever worn the uniform knows that it is clothing, and that it doesn’t make one’s actions good or bad. The military is a necessary function to remain sovereign as a country. The military has been used for atrocity. So, too, with intel and law enforcement.
Institutions are made up of people. It is the people that determine whether or not an entity is good or evil. The Order, run by caring, humanitarians, would be a force of good in the world. The Order, run by people like Brother Tone, was a plague. The Order is necessary, the power hungry, totalitarian excesses, are not.
Myke and I have talked in the past about Peelian policing , and the idea of “policing (governing) by consent”. I believe that in the Sacred Throne, Myke lays down his vision of the dangers of losing that consent. I believe that Myke clearly spells out the hollowness of power that exists only to cater to power.
Heloise constantly struggles with the mantle of power, and whether or not she can take power, claim power, or be powerful. At every turn her instinct is to serve her people, and as such she constantly rejects the idea that she should be in charge, even while leading. Heloise embodies the principles of servant leadership, of leading from the front, of being accountable to her charges. She gives of her sweat, her blood, her body, in order to do something that she knows needs to be done. Not to take a throne, but to serve her people.
Our institutions were made to serve us. And I think that we’re reaching a point where it’s becoming obvious that some of them are no longer even paying lipservice to that idea. Hopefully, we can deal with the demons that the Killing Light brings us.