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 Shouldn’t there be historical references as the story takes place on earth in the past?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.
*Book given by author to review.