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The Left Hand of God Review

By / September 10, 2010 / no comments

the left hand of god

Paul Hoffman’s The Left Hand of God is a new book that’s been garnering mixed reviews. Some people absolutely love it, some are lukewarm about it, and some despise it.

I liked it and quite a lot actually. It’s a rough gem, but in my opinion, still a gem.

So what’s so good about this book, in a genre where there is a lot of good fantasy books.

So let’s get to a bit of the plot.

The world explored in The Left Hand of God is a pretty damn dark one. Cale, the protagonist, starts life out in a monastery. But this isn’t your normal fantasy monastery. The monks, you see, don’t worship love, hope, peace, and all that stuff, but worship (and relish) pain. And Cale, as an acolyte of this order, basically endures a life of pain and physical torture. Not exactly an appealing place to grow up.

But Cale’s destiny turns out to be more than just the whipping boy for a bunch of sadistic monks.  Those who like reading about a baass hero (and don’t we all?) will find Cale interesting indeed.

The Bad

Now this is Hoffman’s first book and there are some flaws. The plotting is a bit uneven and the protagonist Cale occasionally vacillates between being a super badass with no fear with always a couple aces up his sleeve to a trembling whiny kid with a bad case of emoism at certain points in the novel – something that will make you just want to reach into the book and give the kid a couple hard slaps.  Sometimes you get the feeling the author simply throws in some of the plot conventions just because he was told that “a good fantasy book should have them.” This makes them feel forced rather than natural.

The author tries to inject a pseudo real-history/religion into the novel – it’s set in a sort of standard fantasy middle ages with the usual fantastical religions, but the author bizarrely tosses in a few references to Jesus Christ and Jews out of the blue.

The Good

The setting is pretty interesting. Cale’s childhood is pretty vicious and the author really pulls you into this disturbing world. As soon as you start reading, you get sucked into Cale’s life. The author doesn’t just throw out all the details about who the protagonist is, but gradually doles Cale’s life…and abilities slowly. It’s a nice build up – something that reminded me the way The Warded Man was set up. The action, when it happens, is fast, vicious, and glorious.

This book is…different. It’s not your standard fantasy novel that publishers churn out like a butcher churns out ground beef. Ok, bad analogy, but it stand out. The plot buildup, the visceral action sprinkled throughout the book, and the twists and turns that take place make it a very enticing read. You won’t be bored.

If you like the intensity, plot, and action of books like The Warded Man or the adventure present in The Name of the Wind, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the Left Hand of God. Those who don’t like violence, death, and torture might want to give this book a skip, but if you relish action, adventure, heroism, romance, and a dark tone, this books is for you.  Just don’t start reading before you go to bed – you won’t end up sleeping.

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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