I don’t know what I was expecting from The Armored Saint, but whatever it was, I was stunned. The Armored Saint is this novella that combines a fierce and curious heroine with the necessity to stand up for justice. But is was also so much more.
In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.
One of the things I loved about The Armored Saint was this question of rebellion and obedience. In a system that is built on oppression, with propaganda, and in a culture of fear, do we have the strength to stand up? In many ways, I think that as adults some of us grow more content to pick our battles, to bide our time, when in reality our main character, Heloise sees the wrong immediately. This novella was the right reminder at the right time to stand up no matter the costs. It is a hard road and sometimes very solitary, but it begins with us, with that one choice to face the price of disobedience and find our strength.
Heloise is a character I can stand behind. And what I loved most, was that for the beginning I was thinking “yes Heloise, stay under the radar, be safe” only to realize, what is there to gain in silence, except the continuation of fear? It was just the kind of book I needed to read. Not only is she going through this coming of age in terms of the society she lives in, but also her feelings for her best friend and her queer identity (in a society that shuns queerness).
The Armored Saint demands to be read. It propels you with its action. But even more than that, I feel strongly that we need more stories like this – with younger heroines who are girls who are afraid, who maybe love their best friend, and who need to figure out their identity in a society that oppresses them in a multitude of ways.