Monday, 25 March 2013

No-Nonsense Reviews: The Left Hand Of God by Paul Hoffman

Thomas Cale is an acolyte at the Sanctuary of the Redeemers, a horrific place where students are instructed in both religion and warfare under the worst conditions imaginable.  Cale suffers more than most in the hands of the Redeemers and when he without thinking commits a crime to save a life, he also seizes the chance to escape, taking along two of his fellow students and a terrified young woman.  Except the world outside the massive walls is more difficult and complicated than he’d expected...

Pros+ Likeable main character+ Easy, enjoyable writing style+ Occasional bursts of laugh-out-loud humour

Cons- More writing than story--could easily have been shorter- Repetition of information and phrases- Middle section drags with parts that don’t seem to add to the story- Occasionally things happen that don’t appear to have a point (although they might be important in a later book)- Ends very abruptly

To be honest I finished this book a while ago, but I’ve been putting off finishing this review because the book itself left me feeling so conflicted.  The three main boys are likeable, including Cale himself who, no matter what he did everyone seemed to end up hating him, as is the sole main female, Reba, but I did have issue with how very perfect she was. Despite that she’s raised to be so, she’s more beautiful and curvier than all around her, much nicer to talk to, all the men she meets love her to the intense frustration of the women around her, and she can get away with saying what she wants no matter the situation.  She should be irritating to high heaven, but I found myself liking her.

There was far too much middle for me (the paperback is 500 pages long) and introduced characters that were either pointless or appeared superfluous who, I assume, will become important in another book.  The large-scale battle felt sterile and full of people I didn’t much care about, although the more close-combat scenes with Cale had a far greater sense of immediacy, as well as a better sense that not everything would go according to plan.

I have absolutely no idea what to make of the religious angle, although to a certain degree it seems the staple “Christianity is evil” trope, but I think I’d need to read the next book to see if it comes to make more sense in light of the ending.

The writing style is easy and pleasant (not that I’d call it simple at all), a little too wordy in places but with a great sense of humour, which is part of my disappointment.  The ending came like an unexpected blow to the back of the head and I’ll probably buy the next book at some point (it’s not high on my list of priorities, admittedly), but I do hope the next one is more tightly plotted and contains more relevant characters and scenes... or at least explains some of the ones in this.

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