Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Review: The Left Hand of God
The Left Hand of God starts out great, wavers in the middle and then ends on a reasonably high note with a large battle and a cliffhanger ending. The dark and brutal life the young boys have to cope with at the Sactuary immediately hooked me. The Redeemers are absolute bastards and their cruelty knows no bounds. You immediately empathise with Cale’s plight and want him to escape from the horrible place, which he duly does.
Religion forms the backbone of the story, but it is a blatantly twisted version of the Catholic and Christian faith. Hoffman repeatedly uses names and events borrowed from the real world even going so far as putting Jesus of Nazareth in the belly of the whale (in his version of Jonah and the whale). Crucifixion is replaced by hanging and various other religious rites are used in some distorted form. It almost felt as if this take on religion was intentionally intended to offend.
He also uses actual countries and regions (Norwegians, Dutch and even the Karoo) and tacks these on to the nations he has created. I read fantasy to escape from the real world, so these constant reminders of reality dispelled my sense of wonder and disbelief and detracted from enjoying what otherwise could have been an intriguing world.
Where the novel does shine is in the engaging character of Thomas Cale. I really grew fond of him and his broody, unpredictable and deadly nature. He is the epitome of an antihero. You never quite know if he’s going to do a good deed or if he’s going to rip someone’s throat out. His companions, Vague Henri and Kleist also have their own distinct personalities and their constant quips with Cale added some much needed humour into the mix.
There’s political intrigue, some daring rescues and even a love interest for Cale. The writing style is easy to read and fast-paced, but the omniscient narrator tends to overpower some scenes. The series shows promise and it would be interesting to see where Hoffman goes with the characters.
If you can look past the religious overtones and constant borrowing from the real world this is an enjoyable read. It kept my attention and intrigued me enough to want to read the sequel. Fans of Brent Week’s Night Angel trilogy should like this, although The Left Hand of God is not nearly as well executed.
The Rating: 6/10