ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.
“Love is worth it. It is worth any hardship, it is worth illness. It is worth injury. It is worth isolation. It is even worth death. For life without love is only a shadow of life.”
Well, I think it’s safe for me to yell from the rooftops: pre-order The Armored Saint now, guys! What an amazing ride, even though I wasn’t ready for it to be over. This is easily one of the best things I’ve read in 2017, and this is truly epic fantasy at its finest. I’m so damn impressed.
The Armored Saint centers on a village of people who live subservient lives to the Order. The Order is a group of religious tyrants that do horrible things to the wizards in this world, or to the people that are protecting and/or harboring the wizards in this world. The Order follows the word of the Writ, which has lead them to believe that wizards have a portal in their eye, that can open the very gates of hell itself and summon devils.
Our main protagonist, Heloise, is a sixteen-year-old girl who isn’t sure if she even believes the Order, but she knows that they are heartless, terrible people after her and her father have a run in with them at the very start of this story. The Order appears to just be cruel for the sake of being cruel, but many of the villagers Heloise’s community believe in the words that Order preaches, including her very own father.
“Because the Writ tells us, girl. Because the Order reminds us. The devils are real, and they are terrible, and we must be ever vigilant for their return.”
Heloise and her village are put in a situation where they have to make a sacrifice, after they’ve already been forced to make so many, or to risk everything to protect their community. The story really takes off from there, and we also get to see a mysterious ranger, an inactive war-machine, and even a magical mouse!
But this is also a story about discovering and embracing your sexuality. Heloise is constantly questioning her feelings for her best friend, and it made me cry so many happy yet sad tears. This is a beautiful tale about a girl coming to terms with her queerness in a world that thinks it is unnatural, and it is so very important. This story truly means more to me than I can express in words. Heloise is easily one of my favorite female protagonists of all time, and I will continue to say what I say in every queer SFF review I write: we need more stories like this! This story is so utterly heart-wrenching, but it’s so important.
“That’s what love should be, sure as stone, as running water. Sure as the bite of winter and spring blossoms. Sure even when it was impossible. Even when they were both girls.”
And love is such a driving force in this very character focused story. The love between families. The love between friends. And the love between two young girls who are just trying to learn who they are.
“No. It is a person you love. Not a name. Not a she or a he. A person in all their shining glory. There is a thing in us, Heloise. A seed. It makes us who we are. It is our core. That is the thing we love. It alone exists. It alone is holy. It has no home, no name. It is neither male nor female. It is greater than that.”
Now, excuse me while I go cry for the rest of this night, because I’m not sure if I’ve read anything as beautiful as that quote. This book has such a lyrical prose. The writing is so fantastic and adds even more to an already perfect story. And Myke Cole does this in only 200 pages. This is the first thing I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be my last. This book is little, but it is oh so mighty. And it has completely captured my heart. Please give this book a try when it releases on February 20th, 2018!
“Never be sorry for loving, Heloise. No matter who it is, no matter how it is done, no matter how the person you love receives it. Love is the greatest thing a person can do. Most go their entire lives knowing only ritual and obligation, mistaking it for love.”
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.