Customer Reviews for

The Left Hand of God (Left Hand of God Series #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

An Engaging World, Despite Its Executional Flaws

It is hard to fully categorize this novel. Medieval fantasy, certainly. (That the setting is a vague number of centuries, even millennia in the future, does not disallow this classification.) A coming of age story, perhaps. (The protagonist is oddly static, despite expe...
It is hard to fully categorize this novel. Medieval fantasy, certainly. (That the setting is a vague number of centuries, even millennia in the future, does not disallow this classification.) A coming of age story, perhaps. (The protagonist is oddly static, despite experiencing within the novel's pages one of the most formative of adolescent experiences: first love.) Future dystopian, yes, though without any explanation as to the nature of humanity's technological devolution. An antihero tale, most definitely this of all others. That said, if there is any typecasting in this story, it is not in its genre(s) and related plot. It would be in its characters.<br><br>

As this novel is widely touted as the beginning of a trilogy, it suffers from that. The protagonist Thomas Cale, while interesting, is stoic in the extreme. Indeed, any changes to his demeanor occur largely in the exposition from other characters' points of view. Perhaps Cale becomes more self-aware to his true, more heroic nature during the story, but any evidence comes primarily through narrative from other characters' points of view. Overall, it makes Cale look altogether a "pawn" instead of a "knight," even in any small part. The love interest, Arbella, is of course the complete opposite of Cale. She is an aristocrat and exceptionally beautiful, and of course the story of their love is told almost entirely from the point of view of their class distinctions.<br><br>

The world of Hoffman's story is a direct borrowing of European history, in which every event is expanded infinitely. Memphis is politically Rome. Its leader is the Doge (cf. Renaissance Venice), the patriarch of a large aristocracy who embrace the cult of beauty more than the 17th century French court and the cult of chivalry to an extent that makes Bushido look mild. Of course, this aristocracy does so quite oddly. The Sanctuary is the headquarters of a religious group that is an extremely thinly veiled analog to Roman Catholicism, complete with its own Pontiff. Combine the most extreme asceticism with the most regimented of the Crusade-era militaristic orders, and you have the Sanctuary. They worship the "Hanged Redeemer," the son of the One True God and of the one pure woman ever to exist. They have a litany of saints and martyrs and feast days for each. The parallels go on yet further. Their enemies are the Antagonists (=Protestants). Their battle is a recapitulation of World War I in France, only where the trench warfare extends for far longer.<br><br>

The ending is problematic, too. Yes, this is the first part of a trilogy, but ending the story with such a cliffhanger makes the ending of the first Spiderman movie a less obvious set-up for a sequel. It was a trite cliffhanger reveal that does, at least, explain the title.<br><br>

Such obvious borrowings could be excused if it were not for Hoffman's writing style. Hoffman almost randomly introduces asides breaking the narrative "fourth wall" (to steal a metaphor from theatre/cinema). Each aside says the same thing in different wording, "Give the person(s) a break. You'd do the same in his/her/their position." Thus, what would otherwise be an adult book with appeal and accessibility to teenagers certainly gains the narrative tone of a story for pre-teen children or younger. Hoffman's book

posted by CSHallo on June 18, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Disturbingly Interesting

This book starts off in an extremely dark world that young adult readers may find startlingly unique or maybe even disturbing. This is not a breezy, magical world as in many such tales, but it's a world of grim realities, pain, and hardship. Literally. It feels very med...
This book starts off in an extremely dark world that young adult readers may find startlingly unique or maybe even disturbing. This is not a breezy, magical world as in many such tales, but it's a world of grim realities, pain, and hardship. Literally. It feels very medieval with historical undertones, given that the methods of punishment seem to be congruent with those used in that time period.


The main character, Cale, has traits much like the typical young adult male hero - extremely tough but inwardly a bit sensitive (at least eventually). As he learns to interact with the world outside the "Sanctuary" which is the only home he has ever known, he begins to learn to love and the dual parts of his nature - violence and a growing sense of love - are at war with each other. To do what he has been forced into, he must be tough and brutal, but his love for Arbell contrasts with this and makes him strangely vulnerable at times.


I enjoyed this book, but I felt that character development (my favorite part of any story) took a back seat to the actual plot of the novel. I would have enjoyed it more had it lingered on some interesting key points (Cale's background story, his tormented life at the Sanctuary, the relationship with Arbell, Cale's personal feelings, etc) a bit more to make the strong stronger.


However, the lack of personal details in Cale's story actually, I believe, would make it of stronger appeal to younger male readers. As an adult woman, I want to take pity on Cale and see him in light of relationships and learn more about him rather than see him fight in battles and complete heroic deeds. A more male audience that would rather see these things, so they would probably enjoy the book quite well.


One issue that stood out to me was that of redemption. The horrible place Cale is raised is called the Sanctuary and populated by Redeemers, but no type of true redemption or sanctuary is offered. While not making any direct claims or taking a direct stance, the book provides ample thematic elements for discussion of religion, faith, what true redemption means, etc.


All in all, this book made me feel uneasy, which is something that rarely happens to me. I would probably recommend it to middle-school aged males with a few reservations due to the violence and sensitive themes. However, in middle school, boys seem to be all about those things and would definitely enjoy it.


This is a review of the ARC copy provided to me by Goodreads.com.

posted by agapegrace on July 13, 2010

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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Disturbingly Interesting

    This book starts off in an extremely dark world that young adult readers may find startlingly unique or maybe even disturbing. This is not a breezy, magical world as in many such tales, but it's a world of grim realities, pain, and hardship. Literally. It feels very medieval with historical undertones, given that the methods of punishment seem to be congruent with those used in that time period.


    The main character, Cale, has traits much like the typical young adult male hero - extremely tough but inwardly a bit sensitive (at least eventually). As he learns to interact with the world outside the "Sanctuary" which is the only home he has ever known, he begins to learn to love and the dual parts of his nature - violence and a growing sense of love - are at war with each other. To do what he has been forced into, he must be tough and brutal, but his love for Arbell contrasts with this and makes him strangely vulnerable at times.


    I enjoyed this book, but I felt that character development (my favorite part of any story) took a back seat to the actual plot of the novel. I would have enjoyed it more had it lingered on some interesting key points (Cale's background story, his tormented life at the Sanctuary, the relationship with Arbell, Cale's personal feelings, etc) a bit more to make the strong stronger.


    However, the lack of personal details in Cale's story actually, I believe, would make it of stronger appeal to younger male readers. As an adult woman, I want to take pity on Cale and see him in light of relationships and learn more about him rather than see him fight in battles and complete heroic deeds. A more male audience that would rather see these things, so they would probably enjoy the book quite well.


    One issue that stood out to me was that of redemption. The horrible place Cale is raised is called the Sanctuary and populated by Redeemers, but no type of true redemption or sanctuary is offered. While not making any direct claims or taking a direct stance, the book provides ample thematic elements for discussion of religion, faith, what true redemption means, etc.


    All in all, this book made me feel uneasy, which is something that rarely happens to me. I would probably recommend it to middle-school aged males with a few reservations due to the violence and sensitive themes. However, in middle school, boys seem to be all about those things and would definitely enjoy it.


    This is a review of the ARC copy provided to me by Goodreads.com.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An Engaging World, Despite Its Executional Flaws

    It is hard to fully categorize this novel. Medieval fantasy, certainly. (That the setting is a vague number of centuries, even millennia in the future, does not disallow this classification.) A coming of age story, perhaps. (The protagonist is oddly static, despite experiencing within the novel's pages one of the most formative of adolescent experiences: first love.) Future dystopian, yes, though without any explanation as to the nature of humanity's technological devolution. An antihero tale, most definitely this of all others. That said, if there is any typecasting in this story, it is not in its genre(s) and related plot. It would be in its characters.&lt;br&gt;&lt;br&gt;

    As this novel is widely touted as the beginning of a trilogy, it suffers from that. The protagonist Thomas Cale, while interesting, is stoic in the extreme. Indeed, any changes to his demeanor occur largely in the exposition from other characters' points of view. Perhaps Cale becomes more self-aware to his true, more heroic nature during the story, but any evidence comes primarily through narrative from other characters' points of view. Overall, it makes Cale look altogether a "pawn" instead of a "knight," even in any small part. The love interest, Arbella, is of course the complete opposite of Cale. She is an aristocrat and exceptionally beautiful, and of course the story of their love is told almost entirely from the point of view of their class distinctions.&lt;br&gt;&lt;br&gt;

    The world of Hoffman's story is a direct borrowing of European history, in which every event is expanded infinitely. Memphis is politically Rome. Its leader is the Doge (cf. Renaissance Venice), the patriarch of a large aristocracy who embrace the cult of beauty more than the 17th century French court and the cult of chivalry to an extent that makes Bushido look mild. Of course, this aristocracy does so quite oddly. The Sanctuary is the headquarters of a religious group that is an extremely thinly veiled analog to Roman Catholicism, complete with its own Pontiff. Combine the most extreme asceticism with the most regimented of the Crusade-era militaristic orders, and you have the Sanctuary. They worship the "Hanged Redeemer," the son of the One True God and of the one pure woman ever to exist. They have a litany of saints and martyrs and feast days for each. The parallels go on yet further. Their enemies are the Antagonists (=Protestants). Their battle is a recapitulation of World War I in France, only where the trench warfare extends for far longer.&lt;br&gt;&lt;br&gt;

    The ending is problematic, too. Yes, this is the first part of a trilogy, but ending the story with such a cliffhanger makes the ending of the first Spiderman movie a less obvious set-up for a sequel. It was a trite cliffhanger reveal that does, at least, explain the title.&lt;br&gt;&lt;br&gt;

    Such obvious borrowings could be excused if it were not for Hoffman's writing style. Hoffman almost randomly introduces asides breaking the narrative "fourth wall" (to steal a metaphor from theatre/cinema). Each aside says the same thing in different wording, "Give the person(s) a break. You'd do the same in his/her/their position." Thus, what would otherwise be an adult book with appeal and accessibility to teenagers certainly gains the narrative tone of a story for pre-teen children or younger. Hoffman's book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 14, 2013

    The story is disjointed and senseless. Had I been able to rate i

    The story is disjointed and senseless. Had I been able to rate it in the negatives, I would have. Too many items are taken up and never completed. I really can't understand why anyone would rate this book highly. It makes me believe that the ratings were done by people wanting to sell the book rather than by honest raters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    Interesting, different read

    While staying in-line with typical fantasy archetypes, this book has an original plot, and explains its way out of some implausible situations well. There is a smattering of hand-waving and deus ex machina, so don't nominate the author for too many awards based please... but in a genre flooded with same-olds, respins, and thinly-veiled copies, this was a refreshing read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    Stunning

    I have read many books with a similar start but the pure blood lust and discriptions in this book make me feel like I'm in the battle.

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  • Posted August 27, 2012

    I loved this book.

    I loved this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    WOW

    This book is unbelievably good. Great first novel and first series. This is not for the faint of heart, nor for anyone without a thirst for blood. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    Entertaining

    Loved the plot and everything about it dragged me into the story. I've read it several times and it never gets old, great read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    Great read.

    The story started a little slow but pickednup and became pretty enjoyable. It reminded me a bit of Enders Game, which was pleasant. Looking firward to the next book.

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  • Posted January 3, 2011

    very different but enjoyed

    THIS WAS A SAD STORY BUT ALSO HAD GREAT STORY BUT SOME RUFF PARTS YHE WERE EXPLECIT IN VIOLENCE.I HOPE THERE IS ANOTHER ONE TO COME AS IT LEFT ME HANGING AT THE END.NOT FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2010

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    Posted May 5, 2011

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    Posted March 27, 2011

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    Posted August 18, 2010

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    Posted July 12, 2011

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    Posted July 20, 2010

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    Posted November 24, 2011

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    Posted December 26, 2011

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    Posted November 23, 2010

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