The Last Four Things (Paul Hoffman 2011)

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The Last Four Things is the second book of the Left Hand of God Trilogy, which I read several years ago. The trilogy follows Thomas Cale as he struggles with his dark nature and his conflict with the Redeemers, a group of religious extremists who believe Cale to be an important figure in their plans. The Last Four Things continues where The Left Hand of God left off, Thomas Cale is left back in the hands of the Redeemers after being betrayed by his lover Arbell Swan Neck. He learns that the Redeemer’s want to undo what they believe to be God’s greatest mistake – mankind. Thomas Cale is believed to be the instrument of god’s fury, the Left Hand of God, an angel of death. Now that he is in their custody he is forced to lead the Redeemers into battle and he seems willing enough, but there is still ambiguity in his motives.

The book expands on the worldbuilding from the previous book. With his book I became even more certain that the novels are set in a post apocalyptic earth, with the parallels between the Redeemers and Christianity becoming more obvious. However there is one notable difference and probably the twist which makes me remember this series, is that the Redeemers are revealed to be an apocalyptic cult who desire to exterminate humanity. The reasoning is strange and makes them seem a bit more alien and different to the religions which they draw from, seeming more like a cult than any mainstream religious groups.

This leads onto the plot holes, namely the question of how they planned to achieve the extermination of mankind. To me their plan seemed to be to simply have Cale exterminate every human with the Redeemer army with no real plan beyond that. The feat of exterminating every single human this way seemed a bit implausible to me. The narrative as a whole was very confusing in that regard as I didn’t seem to pick up on just how they planned to achieve their lofty goal. This was a problem not just with this plot thread but with the novel as a whole, as the plot seemed to become more convoluted. I had similar issues with understanding Thomas Cale’s true nature, is he supposed to be magical somehow? Is he just a boy with an unusual talent for killing things? It wasn’t clear what it was about him that made him the Left Hand of God, and that confused me to no end.

In terms of character Thomas Cale is basically the same as in the previous book, only he’s angrier than ever following his betrayal and his bitterness at the world is at an all time high. This made me question whether or not he actually planned on doing the Redeemer’s bidding for real, or it he was just biding his time for an escape. This was another layer of confusion onto the convoluted plot. On a slightly more positive note, Thomas’ friends Vague Henri and Kleist get more focus now that he is no longer with them. Vague Henri is still boring, but Kleist gets a fairly interesting subplot. They still aren’t solid enough characters though and both seem painfully generic, with neither showing the same trauma of having been brought up in the cult like environment of the Redeemers in the way Thomas Cale does. This bugged me since both characters should, in my eyes, a fair amount of baggage from being brought up in such an environment but nothing they do seemed to show anything of the sort.

As a whole I somehow managed to enjoy this novel even less than The Left Hand of God, something which I didn’t even think was possible. It still had the same problems of its predecessor and introduced nearly a dozen more. I can’t say I found it the most enjoyable reads, and I was glad to put it down. In a rare feat, the book made me more confused at the end than it did beginning. The fact that ambiguity is the book’s defining trait does little to help things, with aspects such as Thomas’ intentions and the Redeemer’s plans remaining uncertain. This was a confusing book, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

SCORE: 3/5

IN A WORD: CONFUSING

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One thought on “The Last Four Things (Paul Hoffman 2011)

  1. For me, the first book in the series was definitely the best though it wasn’t great and I agree with you about this book leaving you confused at the end, if you read it, I’ll certainly be interested to see what you made of the final book in the trilogy.

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