It’s been a couple of months since I read this book, but it’s still a book that I’m very excited about, and I’ve been telling everyone about this book!
Here’s the blurb for the book from Penguin UK:
“Listen. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary.”
The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a vast and desolate place – a place without joy or hope. Most of its occupants were taken there as boys and for years have endured the brutal regime of the Lord Redeemers whose cruelty and violence have one singular purpose – to serve in the name of the One True Faith.
In one of the Sanctuary’s vast and twisting maze of corridors stands a boy. He is perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old – he is not sure and neither is anyone else. He has long-forgotten his real name, but now they call him Thomas Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming, violent and profoundly bloody-minded. He is so used to the cruelty that he seems immune, but soon he will open the wrong door at the wrong time and witness an act so terrible that he will have to leave this place, or die.
His only hope of survival is to escape across the arid Scablands to Memphis, a city the opposite of the Sanctuary in every way: breathtakingly beautiful, infinitely Godless, and deeply corrupt.
But the Redeemers want Cale back at any price… not because of the secret he now knows but because of a much more terrifying secret he does not.”
Now, I stick by what I said in my mini-review: The Left Hand of God will be, without a doubt, one of 2010’s biggest novels. Why? Here are my reasons:
The Worldbuilding: Paul has created a world that is at once weird and stranger than any place you know, but also exhilarating in the way that it echoes the world we inhabit. Places that we know are slightly different, cultures have formed around different concepts, and religion has taken a twisted, convoluted path towards something strangely funny but shocking.
The Characters: Thomas himself is, well, in a word, scary, the kind of guy you only have to look at to get the sense that you don’t want to do anything he might consider untoward; but at the same time, once he reaches the wide, outside world, he’s incredibly naive, reduced to stumbling along while trying to stay ahead of his enemies. But Paul doesn’t stop with Thomas Cale – the cast of characters range from very creepy gang leaders to hilarious, sometimes bastardly nobles, to mysterious yet comic ex-military types, to friends who know as little about Cale as he himself does. Paul handles everyone with an expert touch, allowing us to travel through the storyscape while seeing Paul’s world from many different points of view.
The Action: Paul manages to at once take you deep into the blood and violence and fear of battle while also placing you in the minds of those fighting and dying. And as you would expect from a created world with strange cultures and people, Paul also weaves in new tactics and kinds of warfare; there is one major battle in the book that’ll take your breath away and make you wince, and I’m really excited to see what Paul’s got up his sleeve in books 2 and 3.
Everything Else: Paul’s writing is really easy on the mind, poetic and beautiful in places, charging along with incredible pace and tension in others. His writing seems entirely suited to Fantasy, and I’m very glad that I got the opportunity to read such a strong debut!
2010 looks set to be an absolutely huge year for SFF, and I’m sure that The Left Hand of God will be a strong contender for Debut of the Year on many lists. 🙂 Highly recommended!
9 / 10
The Left Hand of God will be available in South Africa from next month (from Penguin Books SA) (even though it’s already available in the UK), so pre-order your copies here and here. For those of you in the UK, click here to order your copies.
Also, here’s the novel’s page on Penguin’s UK website (where you can read an excerpt of the novel, too), and good news for those in the UK – Paul will be at Forbidden Planet this month for a book signing! Click here for details. 🙂
Coming up tomorrow on the blog, an awesome competition that’ll give you a chance to have your work seen in the paperback edition of The Left hand of God! 🙂