Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Left Hand of God - Paul Hoffman


I really enjoyed reading The Left Hand of God, which provides a somewhat unique and slightly novel perception of a dystopian society. The society of the Redeemers, which appears to be based around an altered form of Christianity, seeks (rather predictably) to spread its control across the rest of world, but is unable to do this because it has been engaged in a hundred-year war with a rival faction of another odd Christianity-based religion, which they refer to as the Antagonists. 

Without spoilers, the plot of the book focuses around a young boy, Thomas Cale, who has been brought up under the ruthless regime of the Redeemers in a fortress called the Sanctuary, where he has spent his entire life and has been trained to be a merciless holy soldier. Cale soon finds himself outside of his sheltered life in the Sanctuary and is plunged into the aristocracy of a honour-bound militant society, where he continuously finds himself to be out of his comfort zone - a factor that makes his life very difficult and leads to decisions that leave his loyalties questioned by both sides. 

The contrast between the two societies that feature in the book help to keep it fresh throughout and Hoffman does a splendid job in highlighting the differences in the culture between the Redeemers and the Materazzi (the militant society mentioned above), describing how these differences impact on Cale and effect his decisions. This, along with an interesting and strong plot line, helped to keep me enthralled in the story and made the book very difficult to put down. 

Hoffman also develops the majority of his main characters well and steers away from making their personalities generically good or bad. This adds a 'third dimension' to his characters and helps to keep them interesting, as well as making them more relatable - adding a believability to the story, despite its complex and fictitious setting. 

One flaw with the book however, (although I should point out that this doesn't hinder its enjoyability), is that the geography of the world Hoffman has created is confusing. This is mainly because there is no map with the book and he uses the names of real places, which may be mere miles away from each other in the book, yet be in different countries in real life. This slightly odd 'map' and Hoffman's alterations of Christianity makes the setting of the world slightly hard to comprehend - is it supposed to be an entirely new world, or is it set in the future for example, with the world recovering from some sort of apocalyptic disaster? However, this problem is just me 'nit-picking' and has no real reflection on the story. 

So, overall, the book is very well-written and the religion, societies and characters that Hoffman has developed are believable and fairly original. Due to this, I would strongly recommend adding The Left hand of God to your reading list if you're interested in dystopia or fantasy.

1 comment:

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