Book Review – Armor of God: The Paladin

Armor of God: The Paladin is the work of Tracy Lesch. According to Amazon’s bio, “Tracy Lesch is an award-winning writer of Fantasy, Suspense, and other Speculative Fiction. He is a former Dungeons & Dragons illustrator, radio, and television personality. His work has appeared in books, magazines, and online venues.” That’s why it surprised me that I didn’t like the novel.

Excerpts of Armor of God: The Paladin won him Writer of the Year from the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference and his Christian Writer’s Guild mentor is Eva Everson—author of Chasing Sunsets (Baker/Revell 2011), This Fine Life (Baker/Revell 2010), and others. Tracy is a member of Word Weavers and the Christian Writer’s Guild. I can understand why excerpts of Armor of God: The Paladin won awards. Depending upon which excerpts, by itself some sections are quite well written:

“I cannot win with my own human hatred or bloodlust, but only with His righteous anger. No human could possibly stand against the unholy evils I have seen.” (Location 208-209)

“The silver was exquisite, beautiful as I softly polished the blade. When I looked closely I could see tiny rainbows in the mirrored surface.” (Location 178-179)

The novel is about a monk named Captain Jean Baptiste who is fulfilling a role as “God’s own Paladin.” He seeks demons and kills them. Part of the description states, “the hardest demons to vanquish maybe those that lurk within the human heart. What lies ahead for the one mortal on earth who can summon the very Armor of God?” There were so many problems with the novel.

Each chapter does not designate a place or date (i.e. Germany, 1505). In chapter one the line where Jean, the Paladin says, “As long as I pursued the Quest, I was very hard to kill,” made me take a pause. Also, as the talons of the monster attacking Paladin begin to tear him a part, a sword “magically” appears in his hand saving the day. Both of these items lesson the high stakes.

Why should I continue reading if Paladin is very hard to kill? Chapter two had no designation of time or place and when I read the name, “Germany,” I felt confused. Obviously, this was the past on earth, but when and where? Shouldn’t there be historical references as the story takes place on earth in the past? Chapter one also confused me because I could not tell if this was a man or a woman. If one didn’t read the description of the novel, one would be wondering about this until more information is discovered later in the novel. Voice is another issue.

Right away I don’t like Paladin. He’s arrogant, conceited, and self-absorbed. I couldn’t imagine why any farmer or lay person in that world would invite him into their house. He’s overly dramatic. The novel is written in first person and so it gets you into the head of Paladin. There are also classic writing mistakes—things most of us would get critiqued for in our own Word Weavers group.

Chapter two continues to leave the reader in a dark fog. This short chapter is all conversation with no beats, tags, or description. At this point, I have no idea who is talking to whom. Then, Tracy manages to commit massive info-dumping for several chapters as Paladin sits down with Gustav and Anna and recounts his life story to them. From chapter ten to chapter fourteen Paladin’s dialogue is mostly unbroken. The reader is forced to read his entire history in dialogue. Typically, novels I read do not force the reader to sit through what I would call a “lecture.” It loses its tension here and my interest. Then, there’s the preachy dialogue.

“No, that is not what I mean. Do you commune daily with the Lord, is He part of every moment of your daily life? Do you pray?” It didn’t sound natural. While I was reviewing this novel, I was also in the midst of reviewing, “Scream,” by Mike Dellosso. He had a great example of showing why a character should believe in God instead of telling by mixing in relational issues associated with being a believer in a family of non-believers and showing the fear of the demons (hence, the screaming) in each character. I think there was way too much telling in Tracy’s novel.

The novel didn’t stir my emotions, excite me so that I looked forward to returning to its pages, or make me feel sympathy to Paladin as I neared the end of the novel and learned more about his family. I think the plot and story have potential, but in its present form I wouldn’t read it again. When I finally discovered some good emotional paragraphs I became excited because some humanity finally comes through in Paladin’s character.

Overall, I rated this two stars. To judge the novel yourself, you can buy it on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

*Book given by author to review.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review – Armor of God: The Paladin

  1. I have to ask you both, what makes a review “honest”? Are you saying only negative reviews are honest? Personally I could not disagree with you more on this book and I question the “honesty” of the review. Do not mistake what I am saying. I don’t question the fact you don’t like the book, I question whether you finished the book, or allowed yourself to read it with an open mind and I’ll tell you why.

    Some of your points about characters and certain plot points make no sense to me, when you take the whole book into context. Things like calling parts “preachy” as you said. When Jean asks Gustav of his faith, it wasn’t to be preachy. If you read a few chapters further, when God gives Jean the armor, He warned that any mission entered without complete faith would fail. He HAD to ask these questions and be sure before allowing Gustav to go on mission with him.

    You also bring up not knowing what year it was and how old Jean is because of the writing style. I had very little trouble estimating age and year based on the narrative provided by Jean’s character. Why must books be written in some traditional dry manner where every detail is spelled out for a reader, such as you suggest when you comment on dates and places not being spelled out at the beginning of each chapter. Some readers actually do pay attention to detail and like to be made to think a little bit.

    And as far as this character not having emotion???? WHAT???? You also state “He’s arrogant, conceited, and self-absorbed. I couldn’t imagine why any farmer or lay person in that world would invite him into their house. He’s overly dramatic.” The main character goes through trauma that most people would never wish on anyone. If he seems closed off, arrogant or dramatic, I can attest as a survivor of childhood trauma, that trauma survivors often put up walls and close off and are often dramatic as a coping mechanism. I could relate to why he acted the way he did. That he was written with as much emotion as he was allowed is a bonus, because in reality a real person in his situation would probably act a lot like Jean.

    I also question whether you completed the book because really when you are nit picking this book, you mention nothing about what is contained in the plot of the book beyond that which is written in the first 10 or 12 chapters. Your blog readers have no idea how the action and intensity picks back up after Jean provides his background story.

    I question any review which pulls most of it’s description of the plot right off the books ebook listing. Yeah I recognize it. Yes you did add Jean is God’s Paladin and that He hunts demons and kills them. But you do a disservice to the book by over simplifying the plot. This is the book which tells the tale of a man who experiences unspeakable personal tragedy, who struggles with a thirst for vengeance and who has begun a God-ordained sanctification process, in which God is teaching him the difference between vengeance and justice. The demon and monster hunts are just bonus story and action-filled adventure along the way.

    I think this book was great and really feel you may have really missed the message that was so clearly written in it’s pages.

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    • Kira, first of all, I did finish reading the book. If I didn’t finish, I would have said so in the review and it would have recieved a one-star. If you read my past reviews, you would know this. I stand by my words. You can feel free to love a book or not love a book. I’m glad you liked his book. I didn’t. I can’t change that. So I’m sorry you disagree and like I’ve said in my book review policy….I try to take the heart of the writer and yet give an honest review. Authors read my policy, understand that, and they move forward. There will always be people who like a book I didn’t particularly like. That doesn’t make a book bad or good. It’s opinion. The writing saved him from a one-star.

      Also, regarding the comment by Slam Dunk….Don’t you think it’s a little suspect when you view the reviews on a retail site, especially if it happens to be a self-published book, and all the reviews are glowingly five stars that something might be wrong? Have you ever bought that book thinking it would be good because you trusted the reviews? I’m always a little relieved when I see a negative review in the mix because it means someone other than a friend or a relative reviewed that book and that it might be worth investing the time to read it. Just food for thought there.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kira.

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