7 January 2013

The Last Four Things

Title: The Last Four Things
Author: Paul Hoffman
Series: The Left Hand Of God trilogy
Year published: 2011
Pages: 497
Time It Took To Read: Ages!

I read the first of this trilogy almost two years ago, when I was postnatal and bored. I borrowed this book off my boyfriend back in July. JULY! I started reading it to procrastinate when I was staying with him, and should have been writing an essay. I brought it back with me, and put it on a shelf and there it sat until a couple of days ago. I decided to finish it before starting any of the new beauties I got for Christmas.
Gawd, how I regret ever beginning it. The story is that a rather sociopathic teenager, Thomas Cale, is preternaturally good at combat tactics, and this unusual gift has been interpreted as the Wrath of God by the Redeemers. The Redeemers are allegorical for Roman Catholicism. so, the human(ish) Cale becomes powerful and corrupted. 
The first book of the trilogy establishes the mythology, and was incredibly slow going. This book is slightly faster paced, but sketches lightly over description, making it difficult to visualise. When I read, I have a picture in my mind of what is happening. If I cannot imagine the world, then I cannot read it properly. Instead of skipping through the words, I trip up over them. It is discombobulating.
This book manages to be a dislocating in another sense. The world is fantastical, but the placenames are not. Halfway through a long, gory battle scene, reference is made to eating fish and chips in Memphis. And boom, the spell is broken by incongruity. Every time I put the book down, I forgot everything about it when I picked it back up. Cale, and possibly Bosco are the only characters with real impact.Even Cale's two sidekicks, Vague Henri and Kleist are never fully fleshed out.
Another bugbear is the lack of rounded female characters. The ones there are exist for sex, reproduction or betrayal. Part of this is due to the religious distrust of women in general, but mostly it's a very male orientated story.

It's a shame because it is an excellent premise and could be an awesome story. The writing doesn't do it justice.

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