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Retro Reviews: The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman


Retro Reviews: The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman


The Last Four Things
Author:  Paul Hoffman
Series:  Left Hand of God Trilogy 2
Original Publisher and Date:  Dutton, August 4, 2011
Original Formats:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
Current Formats:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Retro Reviews: The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

The epic story of Thomas Cale-introduced so memorably in The Left Hand of God--continues as the Redeemers use his prodigious gifts to further their sacred goal: the extinction of humankind and the end of the world.

To the warrior-monks known as the Redeemers, who rule over massive armies of child slaves, "the last four things" represent the culmination of a faithful life. Death. Judgement. Heaven. Hell. The last four things represent eternal bliss-or endless destruction, permanent chaos, and infinite pain.

Perhaps nowhere are the competing ideas of heaven and hell exhibited more clearly than in the dark and tormented soul of Thomas Cale. Betrayed by his beloved but still marked by a child's innocence, possessed of a remarkable aptitude for violence but capable of extreme tenderness, Cale will lead the Redeemers into a battle for nothing less than the fate of the human race. And though his broken heart foretells the bloody trail he will leave in pursuit of a personal peace he can never achieve, a glimmer of hope remains. The question even Cale can't answer: When it comes time to decide the fate of the world, to ensure the extermination of humankind or spare it, what will he choose? To express God's will on the edge of his sword, or to forgive his fellow man-and himself?


Brannigan's Review

The Last Four Things picks up right after the first book and immediately starts going in a completely different direction than I thought it was heading. This is always enjoyable in a middle book, which can, if written improperly, feel like an extra long chapter to the first book or a story that drags on without anything really happening to the characters.

Paul Hoffman's skill at writing descriptive environments is as strong as ever. The world continues to baffle me. I've decided that it's an alternate Earth where the middle ages went on far longer than ours. I personally don't like alternate Earth settings, so I am a little disappointed, but for those of you who do like them, I think you'll enjoy this one. The world building itself continues to develop and we get a better understanding of the different religious sects as well as the different countries at play in the immediate area.

Hoffman develops his characters more in the second book, especially some of the minor characters from the first book. It's also nice to see this in a second book, instead of continuing to give the majority of the page to the Protagonist. For those of you like me who are fans of Thomas Cale, do not fear, he is not ignored in his own development. I really enjoyed learning more about some the minor characters and their motivations.

The Last Four Things is a great middle book in a series. It takes the story in a completely different direction than I thought it would go and sets things up for a satisfying ending. It's still a darkly themed book as it deals with children soldiers and religious wars. There is violence, language and sexual situations. I would recommend it to adults only.

Retro Reviews: The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman



Retro Reviews: The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman


The Left Hand of God
Author:  Paul Hoffman
Series:  The Left Hand of God Trilogy 1
First Edition:  Hardcover, Dutton (June 15, 2010)
Also Available:  Trade Paperback (NAL, July 5, 2011)
     and eBook (May 26, 2010)
Availability:  Online and in stores
ISBN:  9780451231888

Brief History

Retro Reviews: The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman
Paul Hoffman was born in 1953 in England. He spent his childhood traveling the world as his father was a pioneer in the sport of parachuting. He went to school at New College, Oxford. He had several odd jobs until he became a senior film censor at the British Board of Film Classification. It was there that he wrote his first book The Wisdom of Crocodiles in 2000. The Left Hand of God is his third novel. Five of his books have been published to date.

The Left Hand of God is the first book in The Left Hand of God trilogy, followed by The Last Four Things and The Beating of His Wings.


Description

Raised from early childhood in the Redeemer Sanctuary, the stronghold of a secretive sect of warrior monks, Thomas Cale has known only deprivation, punishment, and grueling training. When he escapes to the outside world, Cale learns that his embittered heart is still capable of loving- and breaking.

But the Redeemers won’t accept the defection of their prized pupil without a fight…


Brannigan's Review

I've been wanting to read this book for a while now, but as we all do from time to time I passed on it for other books. Then, I got the second book in the series to read and review and found the perfect reason to pick up this, the first book in the series.

Right away Paul Hoffman's writing drew me into his story. His characters and world were all very interesting. He has a way of writing that brings in an atmosphere almost immediately. While reading about the Sanctuary filled with abusive clergy and forgotten and abandoned children, I felt a dampness, and in my peripheral vision I saw the fog. Outside of my home, I was surrounded by miles of bogs. This is what I want when I read. I want to feel the environment of the book closing in around me.

Thomas Cale and his two friends, for lack of a better word, have a wonderful dynamic. None of them truly like each other or even trust each other, because they were taught never to trust another person, but somehow they are able to work together and escape only to find a stranger world outside of the Sanctuary. I immediately latched onto Thomas and felt sorry for his past. He's strong and I love a strong hero, but he's leery of helping and trusting others, so he has his faults.

Hoffman's setting is odd. It's obviously set in a European-type middle ages. He borrows from familiar cultures like England, Rome and even Japan. The Materazzi reminded me of Samurai at times with their sense of honor in battle. Then, at the oddest moments he uses cities and countries and even religions from our world. Memphis, Kiev, Jerusalem, Norwegian, Jesus of Nazareth, Rabbis. So I'm still confused if it's our actual world but in a future where something apocalyptic sent us back into a dark age, or if his world is an alternate Earth that never left the middle ages and kept going for thousands of years. I wouldn't mind either, but I sure would like to know which one it is, so I wasn't being thrown out of the story each time he brought in another city or person from my world.

The last thing I want to mention is the pacing of the story. It's not slow as in when will this end, but it's definitely not fast. I enjoyed the pacing and took my time with the book as I enjoyed Hoffman's world and characters. However, I do feel it's worth mentioning, since I know a lot of readers that only enjoy reading books that grab you by the neck and drag you kicking and grinning.

The Left Hand of God is an intriguing first book in a trilogy. Nothing is as it appears. The pacing can be slow at times and it has an odd setting, but the protagonist Thomas Cale is too interesting to give up on. I'll be reading book 2 next and seeing if some of my questions can be answered, but at the very least I'm sure to enjoy spending more time with Cale. There is violence, language and minor sexual situations. I would recommend it to adults only. As of right now I would recommend you borrow the book from a friend or library. This recommendation might change once I've read more of the series.

Retro Reviews: The Last Four Things by Paul HoffmanRetro Reviews: The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

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