The Left Hand of God, By Paul Hoffman
Sunday 22 August 2010
A legend is born in Thomas Cale, the teenage hero in this first instalment of Paul Hoffman's fantasy adventure. Set in an alternative medieval Europe of relentless injustice and prolific violence, Cale is raised among the Redeemers, zealots bent on pursuing their own unholy agenda. By dint of an accident, Cale can anticipate blows and is therefore able to subvert them. By the age of 14, he is an accomplished assassin and redoubtable strategist in military matters. He is an attractive boy to boot, his patchwork of scars a tribute to the thrashings he has overcome. Pity and devotion stir the hearts of the few women who cross Cale's path: dove and swan-like images of feminine charm.
Here lurks the shadow of fantasy cliché and, while Hoffman's characterisations are generally strong, it is this temptation to cling to generic formula that prevents the book from being truly ground-breaking. It will be interesting to see how the story progresses into the sequel and beyond, and whether Hoffman and his publishers have the courage to lead the plot in surprising new directions.
That said, the shrugging and socially witless Cale (a teenager, after all) is a hero impossible to dislike, and the book is a festival of thrills, complete with all the twists one would expect from a capable storyteller.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food