Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Review: The Left Hand of God

The Left Hand of God

By:  Paul Hoffman

Publisher:  Dutton

Publish Date:  June 2010

Genre:  Fantasy/Sci Fi

Format:  Hardcover, 372 pgs

Series:  1st in the Trilogy following Cale

Recommendation:  This is the start to a trilogy, so if you like journey fantasies, then this may be for you.  But go into it with an open mind and not with all the hype that has surrounded it.

Book Synopsis:
In the Redeemer Sanctuary, the strong-hold of a secretive sect of warrior monks, torture and death await the unsuccessful or disobedient.  Raised by the Redeemers from early childhood like hundreds of other young captives, Thomas Cale has known only deprivation, punishment, and grueling training.  He doesn't know that another world exists outside the fortress walls or even that secrets he can't imagine lurk behind the Sanctuary's many forbidden doorways.  He doesn't know that his master Lord Bosco and the Sanctuary's Redeemers have been preparing for a holy war for centuries - a holy war that is now imminent.  And Cale doesn't know that he's been noticed and quietly cultivated.

And then, Cale decides to open a door.

It's a door that leads to one of the Redeemers' darkest secrets and a choice that is really no choice at all: certain death or daring escape.  Adrift in the wider world for the first time in his young life, Cale soon finds himself in Memphis, the capital of culture - and the den of Sin.  Its there that Cale discovers his prodigious gift: violence.  And he discovers that, after years of abuse at the hands of the Redeemers, his embittered heart is still capable of loving - and breaking.

But the Redeemers won't accept the defection of their special subject without a fight.  As the clash of civilizations that has been looming for thousands of years draws near, a world where the faithful are as brutal as the sinful looks to young Cale to decide its fate.

First Sentence:
Listen.  The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie, for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary.

My Review and Summary:
Shotover Sanctuary is the religious grounds of the Redeemers.  Boys are sent here under the age of ten and only about half of them make it to fifteen... or leave by way of a blue sack, to the grave yard.  This is where Cale has lived since he can really remember, he is now fourteen or fifteen years old.  One of the many strict rules here is you are not allowed to have friends, and there are plants to "befriend" you - planted by the Redeemers - and you pay dearly for being caught with friends.  But Cale has two of friends, Vague Henri and Kleist.  One night while delivering a message to the Redeemer of Discipline, Cale sees something the Redeemer is doing that is so horrible to him, he attacks the Redeemer.  In the Sanctuary Cale's results of this act would end in death for him, as punishment.  So he runs, taking his two friends so they don't get dragged in to the mess, and the girl with him... This is the journey of these four trying to make it.

The book seemed to break into four sections for me.

In the beginning ninety pages we are introduced quickly to many Redeemers and the world they live in - religion and way of life - along with the boys of the story.  You really get an inside look at how stern and brutal the world in on the in side of these walls, from minimal amounts of tasteless gray porridge to eat, to not being creative and being physically punished if they are. These boys are very physically fit for their ages and their training is very brutal.  In the first ninety pages this world starts here and grows the suspense of the war the Redeemers are fighting with the Antagonists and what the boys are trained for and why then moves to the outside world. 

But then it slows down as Cale and company make their journey to Memphis.  The next hundred or so pages where them running off. I enjoyed meeting new characters such as IdrisPukke and liked his character. But they are trying to get away and I felt as if they really didn't worry about being in danger from the all feared and wonderful assassins of the Redeemers. They where quite relaxed and not worrying about who knew who they were. Like no one would be looking for them, yet they knew they where after them.  I know there is the deal made in capturing the boys and the Redeemers where not to interfere as it would offend the leader of whom they talked to, but the Redeemers are this feared group. The Redeemers are to be the hard core ones who don't let escapees get far or away for long. But it seems as they don't care so deeply about Cale and his friends being free. Or maybe this was part of a plan to move things along in a different direction. Almost using Cale to get what they want.  But in this section we wonder away from what I had thought to be a major plot in the book - the Redeemers and the war they are fighting.

The next ninety to a hundred pages started to pull back toward the main plot. Getting back to the Redeemers hunting Cale and starting into some action and movement of the characters. Getting everyone back into the idea of corruption and scheming going on behind the scenes.

The last 80 pages brings the action in full swing and the ties all start to fit together some.  There are still questions for me with some of the actions and reasons behind it all. I am curious of the Redeemers and the war they are fighting, and why what was done was so.  But there are two more books left to read.

With all this being said, I did enjoy the book. I thought the two middle sections could have been combined together with the ending eighty pages - as I think it slowed down in the middle parts. But all in all I did enjoy the idea of the Redeemers and the curiosity has got me, I will pick up book two to see where the conspiracies all go.

I purchased this book for my own reading.

This book qualified for the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Book Chick City.


  1. I think I felt exactly the same. The Redeemers was just a cool idea and we're wondering the whole time, what the heck are they up to?

    Plus, it has one of the better maps out there. :)

  2. I enjoyed the book as well and will continue with the series. Just a few minor issues to be had but as a debut it was decent.

    It seems that all the big debuts this year are lackluster except a handful for me and while this was not what I would consider a blockbuster it was fun. Which sometimes it is just what you need.

  3. This sounds interesting. Too bad it dragged. It's hard when a first book functions as just an introduction to the rest of the series.

  4. Sounds like an interesting and complex story. I'm going to have to check this one out sometime.

  5. Seak - The Redeemers are the ones, I think, may be keeping me coming back to the next book. I am curious how this is all going to fit together and what they are doing.

    Tyson - I have to agree. It's not a blockbuster for me, but a wonderful way to start out in the book world. I am looking forward to the next book as Hoffman had to have learned a lot here.

    Alison - It was interesting, but slow moving a times. But I was able to keep moving through it with out troubles. I have read some slow movers that I just kept falling asleep in, this one wasn't that bad. :)

    Ryan - If you do check this one out I am curious as to what you think of it. :)

  6. Hmmm.... I have seen this one around but this is the first review I read on it. I dont think I would enjoy it but I did enjoy your review of it and it helped me with my curiosity about the book.

  7. Sheila - Glad the review helped you on the book and glad you enjoyed it. :) Thank you for stopping by. :)


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