Kirsten Reviews: The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Last Four Things by Pail Hoffman
The Left Hand of God #2

The epic story of Thomas Cale—introduced so memorably in The Left Hand of God—continues as the Redeemers use his prodigious gifts to further their sacred goal: the extinction of humankind and the end of the world...

To the warrior-monks known as the Redeemers, “the last four things” represent the culmination of a faithful life. Death. Judgment. Heaven. Hell. The last four things represent eternal bliss—or endless destruction, permanent chaos, and infinite pain.

Perhaps nowhere are the competing ideas of heaven and hell exhibited more clearly than in the dark and tormented soul of Thomas Cale. Betrayed by the girl he loves but still marked by a child’s innocence, possessed of a remarkable aptitude for violence but capable of extreme tenderness, Cale will lead the Redeemers into a battle for nothing less than the fate of the human race. And though his broken heart foretells the bloody trail he will leave in pursuit of a personal peace he can never achieve, a glimmer of hope remains—the question even Cale can’t answer: When it comes time to decide the fate of the world, to ensure the extermination of humankind or spare it, what will he choose? To express God’s will on the edge of his sword, or to forgive his fellow man—and himself?

'The Last Four Things,' Paul Hoffman's second book in his 'The Left Hand of God' trilogy continues exactly where the first book left off, and the main character is no more likeable.

Thomas Cale is not a character that makes it easy to root for him, in fact throughout the book, it was hard to even care what happened to him or his friends. The fact remains that Cale no better than the Redeemers who trained him to be a warrior-monk supposedly carrying out the will of God.Hoffman seems to realize that readers might not warm to Cale immediately, and so tries to elicit sympathy by recounting his difficult childhood, and the betrayal he feels at the hands of the woman he loved. Yet, it's harder not to sympathize with anyone not Cale, the Redeemers, or male. In other words, women. Portrayed as mindless slaves, or creatures unable to control their own desires, not a single female character is respected in this book. It could be argued that the tribeswoman Daisy that Kleist becomes involved with is the exception, but only so far as she educates Kleist in basic facts of life. When it comes to common sense, Kleist is just as quick to dismiss Daisy's advice as the Redeemers do the people they 'save' with holy executions.

By dwelling on the religious fanaticism and violence equally, Hoffman creates a thoroughly uncomfortable world that is not far removed from our own. The book has some good commentary on the dangers of blind faith, but too much time is spent dwelling on the deliberate omissions of events and moments of humor that are completely out of tune with the rest of the book. In contrast, battles and all other mentions of violence are given lengthy description, and so the lack of feeling of the characters is quite apparent.

All of this should produce a main character with ambition and cunning, but that isn't the case with Cale. At times it feels as if Bosco, Cale's mentor and former torturer and the protagonist himself are inhabiting two different worlds. While Bosco has a clear purpose, there is no apparent motivation for Cale, nothing that signals him trying to reach a goal. Instead he comes across as nothing more than a pouting and petulant teenager. Rather than cheering for him, the reader is left hoping the entire world will collapse and in the destruction, that Cale might become a halfway decent character worth reading about.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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  1. The Left Hand of God



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