The Last Four Things (The Left Hand of God 2)
- Paul Hoffman
Publisher: UK - Penguin
Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. These are the Last Four Things. Now there are Five. Meet Thomas Cale. Returning to the Sanctuary of the Redeemers, Thomas Cale is told by the Lord Militant that the destruction of mankind is necessary; the only way to undo God's greatest mistake. Cale seemingly accepts his role in the ending of the world: fate has painted him as the Left Hand of God, the Angel of Death. Absolute power is within his grasp, the terrifying zeal and military might of the Redeemers a weapon for him to handle as simply as he once used a knife. But perhaps not even the grim power that the Redeemers hold over Cale is enough - the boy who turns from love to poisonous hatred in a heartbeat, the boy who switches between kindness and sheer violence in the blink of an eye. The annihilation that the Redeemers seek may well be in Cale's hands - but his soul is far stranger than they could ever know.
It’s been a while since I read any fantasy books so when this dropped through my door, I figured it was the gods of reading telling it was time I returned to it. The Last Four Things is actually the second book in a series (trilogy?) and luckily I had read the first book, The Left Hand of God some time ago, but I have to confess I didn’t remember much of it. Luckily there is a quick recap in the beginning to get you up to speed.
The whole novel follows Thomas Cale, and to a less extent his friends Vague Henri and Kleist as they alternatively fight for and against the extreme religious order, the Redeemers, that brought them up to be its soldiers. Much of this story follows Cale as his slowly takes control of the Redeemer army and starts winning their wars (yes, wars – they are fighting on many fronts). In this way, Cale reminds me much of Ender from Ender’s Game – a young genius with a talent for warfare given free reign over battle. However, Cale is also broken hearted and as such seeks to isolate himself as much as possible. Unfortunately, this means I never really connected with him – or any character really. Most seemed very emotionless and even the friendship between Cale and Vague Henri never rang true for me – I never really felt why Henri was with Cale.
However, despite this there are some great battle scenes with some detailed descriptive passages. And this is dirty warfare where mistakes are made on both sides. In fact one element I did enjoy about the whole story was the impact of chance seemed to have – it felt chaotic rather than orchestrated and that meant it felt realistic – after all no one person has complete control over everything in reality. The style of writing as well was unique, feeling more like a story told by the campfire with personality and asides injected which made it stand out from other fantasy.
While I enjoyed the style of writing and the action scenes, I did miss out on any emotional resonance. However, I would be curious to see where the story goes next!
Recommended for fans of Robert Jordan and Tad Williams. 7 out of 10