“I would rather love a coward than mourn a legend.”
I saw “Alix E. Harrow” on the cover and knew that The Six Deaths of the Saint would be good. I grabbed it without knowing anything about it. That rarely happens to me but it is the only correct reaction to seeing that author’s name on a book. Everything she writes is gold and this was no different.
This is a (very) short story yet somehow still packs an emotional gut punch. Ostensibly about a servant girl who is visited by the Saint of War and goes on to be a nigh-unstoppable warrior for a prince who then becomes king, it is in reality much more than that. It is an exploration of choices, a thought exercise about the many kinds of love- both real and false, and a lesson in perspective.
I really can’t say much of anything about the plot itself without giving away huge chunks of the story. Despite being few in number- the warrior girl, her faithful friend/servant, and the king- they were all powerfully written. The girl was hurting inside, her desire for approval and love used as a weapon against her by the very person she fought for, she bled for. Her squire cared so much, seeing past the raggedy edges, the violent weapon the girl became. That wanting, hurting, and love can become so tangled is something beautifully and heartbreakingly written.
“And you found you did not mind being a devil, so long as you were his.”
This is not a lighthearted story, but it is a gorgeous one. It is harsh, touching, and at times surprising. I loved it and ended up rereading it right after finishing it, once I knew the finished shape of the tale.
I recommend anything written by this author and The Six Deaths of the Saint is no different. Read this. It won’t take you long to finish the words, but the emotion and thought behind them will stay with you.