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Review from The Word Fiend,
This review is from: The Last Four Things (Paperback)
**Warning: As this is the second book in a trilogy this review may contain spoilers for those who have not read the first one, The Left Hand of God.**
I had mixed feelings after finishing the first book in this series, The Left Hand of God. I enjoyed the world that Paul Hoffman has created and was intrigued by Thomas Cale, the violent and unpredictable young man at the heart of the story. But I wasn't entirely sure I liked how The Left Hand of God had ended. So I was very excited when I received The Last Four Things for review to see what had become of Cale and his friends.
But first a note on the book's cover - I like it. The blue light backlighting the hooded and armed warrior as he advances into the darkness of the foreground fits in well with the Redeemers' outlook. And especially with their view of Cale as God's wrath incarnate.
Paul Hoffman has created a fantasy world that draws strongly on the "real" world for its names and culture. But it's the way he has combined these elements that makes this world different. Medieval culture exists beside ancient Greek and so on. I found that the references to civilizations and places I know made it easier to submerge myself in Hoffman's world. His writing style is easy and there are some great turns of phrase throughout The Last Four Things.
The religion of The Hanged Redeemer plays a crucial role in this series. It shapes the characters and many of their decisions and actions in one way or another. Again Hoffman has drawn on the history of Christianity and used elements to create something familiar, but dark and unsettling at the same time. The politics and infighting that is an intrinsic part of any such large organisation allows Hoffman to introduce subplots and greater complications.
Thomas Cale is a bit of an enigma as far as main characters go. At times his humanity and something more gentle show through and you begin to like him. But then, often within a page, he has become a hard and violent person who trails catastrophe and blood in his wake. It's at these moments that you can almost believe that he is the embodiment of God's wrath. This constant shift in Cale's behaviour and demeanour can be quite unsettling and as a result I was often not sure what to feel about him. This is a risky way for an author to handle their main character because readers need someone to connect with in the story. But Hoffman manages to pull it off by showing us glimpses if Cale's humanity and by balancing him with other characters. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about Thomas Cale, but I'm leaning towards liking him and I do know that I want to read the next book to see what happens to him. He's a puzzle I really want to solve.
Paul Hoffman's The Last Four Things does a good job of advancing the story and characters he introduced us to in The Left Hand of God. And he's left me wanting to know what he's got in store for us next.