While I agree with many reviewers lately that The Left Hand of God [US] [UK] by Paul Hoffman has its weaknesses, one of those being over-hype, I didn't think it was quite as bad as many were making it out to be.
And then, Cale opens a door.
What follows is a daring escape, an unlikely alliance, a desperate pursuit, a journey of incredible discovery, and an adventure the likes of which Cale could never possibly have imagined, culminating in Cale's astonishing realization that he alone has the power to save his world- or to destroy it.
I think the main problem reviewers were having had to do with expectations and since mine were relatively low given the numerous less than stellar ratings, I didn't start The Left Hand of God with any preconceived notions. Well, I guess I have to admit, those preconceived notions weren't very positive.
This should be your first step in approaching this book. Goodreads compares it with the Inheritance Cycle and Twilight and while I think the publishers were attempting to say, "Hey, this is the next phenomenon in reading!" What should actually be taken from this is that while better written (slightly), it is still along those same level of book, i.e. entertaining but don't expect much more.
Yes, I did actually say that I enjoyed it and I'm getting there...in just a bit. One of the main things I thought The Left Hand of God struggles with is its audience. It mainly follows a teenage boy, so you think "YA". Then there are a couple grisly scenes that he witnesses and you think "adult".
I found this a bit confusing and unsettling, but maybe that was what the author was going for.
While the prose has its moments, it is a bit unsettling itself. The First line of the book is Listen and not in quotation marks. Is there a narrator talking to the reader? Is someone thinking this? There are other points where the prose is jerky and altogether confusing as to where the author's picking up and leaving off.
After all that said, I did still enjoy the book. Even through the problems that, as you can well see, are not minimal, I found myself looking forward to reading further. The characters were entertaining and Cale could just be really cool at times.
Cale and his friends grow up with a sect of Redeemers at The Sanctuary where they are cowed into submission through daily beatings, whippings, and even outright murders. The Redeemers are raising an army and anyone who even remotely steps in their way will be thrown to the wayside in no time.
Although friendship is frowned upon, Cale finds like-minded souls who do what they can to resist the tirade that is the Redeemers. While Cale is constantly pushing the Redeemers' buttons, Vague Henry finds his own way to get under their skin by acting extremely slow-witted; both pushing the bounds of their captivity, but not enough to get themselves killed...although they're not far from it.
Because of their brutal upbringing, the youths from The Sanctuary have talents and willpower far beyond those in the outside world. It was really entertaining to read about their escapades in this world where everything is new to them, even women whom they've never seen before.
Add to this the fact that we begin to learn throughout the latter half of the book that there's more to Cale than we thought at first. His powers and skills are slowly revealed especially as he takes on bullies and others whom Cale makes as enemies.
When Should You Read The Left Hand of God?
I'm really happy I wasn't the first to read The Left Hand of God after all the hype that surrounded its initial release, so thanks Niall, Yagiz, and a few others who weren't particularly impressed with the book because you made it much more enjoyable for me.
While not without its flaws, overall I enjoyed The Left Hand of God and would recommend it as a fantasy without much in terms of magic, but with an intriguing story and setting. I look forward to the rest of the series.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher