The Beating of His Wings (Paul Hoffman 2013)

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At last, it is time to review The Beating of His Wings, the third and final book in the Left Hand of God trilogy. When I first read this trilogy a few years ago I didn’t know what to think, especially when I finally finished this book. Now that it has been a few years I can say I finally have a solid opinion on this book. The book essentially continues where The Last Four Things left off. After learning that he has been raised as the Redeemer’s angel of death for sake of bringing about humanity’s extinction Thomas Cale has been on the run from the man who raised him to the position, Redeemer Bosco who has taken on the title of Pope and is more powerful than ever. As Thomas Cale’s soul begins to die his body is wrecked with convulsions. Yet this only makes him more determined to gather allies and take down Pope Redeemer Bosco once and for all.

One notable thing about this book is how complicated it is, even in comparison to The Last Four Things. It starts off with Thomas Cale recovering some mysterious illness which causes his body to suffer from convulsions which is apparently the result of his soul dying. To be honest the whole issue isn’t given any explanation at all, nor was there any foreshadowing in the previous novels which would imply something like this could happen. As the novel progresses this plotline becomes sidelined in favour of the battle with Bosco and is generally left without a satisfying conclusion. There is also the matter of how it has complicated the matter of Thomas Cale’s supernatural status since it isn’t clear if the illness is a supernatural phenomena connected to his position as the prophecised angel of death or if it is a natural illness. Needless to say the illness has done little to answer questions about Thomas Cale’s true nature.

As for the conflict against Redeemer Bosco, once the plot gets going it start to progress into a reasonably satisfying conclusion, though nothing worthy of mention. That being said though, this was just about the only plotline that got confusion and the whole angel of death business still confused me. As mentioned in the previous review, I also had a few questions as to how the Redeemers planned to kill all of humanity since even in this novel I got the impression that this should be too big of a task for any army. Not a perfect plot but at least the action towards the end was okay, with lots of violence and dark themes which I have come to enjoy in Dark Fantasy.

As far as characters go the same applies. Thomas Cale’s companions are as boring and generic as ever. Thomas Cale himself plunges further into committing dark deeds, more so than ever despite siding against the Redeemers and fighting with the rest of the “good guys” against the common enemy. One aspect I found disappointed was a new love interest. Initially I liked this since it seemed like he was moving on from his previous hang ups and would move on with his life. Ultimately it goes nowhere and the love interest is stuffed into the fridge by virtue of getting killed. Thus the whole affair just seemed kind of pointless since none of the potential for a solid character arc between the two ever paid off. Instead she became just another tool for creating a bit angst for Cale. In the end Cale does get a happy ending of sorts, though it seemed a bit low key compared to what could have been and seemed a bit disappointing.

As a whole the novel suffers from the same complication that its predecessor suffered from and brings it to a head with more complication in the form of Cale’s mystery illness. While the plot with the Redeemers got a satisfactory resolution in that the enemy was defeated and the threat ended but the mysteries about the illness and Cale’s true nature as a whole still weren’t resolved. To be honest I was hoping things would start to make sense by the time the book ended but in the end I just found myself asking more questions. This is a rare book in that it left me more confused about the lore about this world than it did when I started it. In fact with each book in this trilogy I’ve found myself becoming more and more confused. The book had some good points but a lot of the potential seemed to fall flat, just like the others.

SCORE: 3.5/5

IN A WORD: FLAWED

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