The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

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Rating 6.5/10
Seldom has a trilogy left me so confuddled and befused�

Seldom has a trilogy left me so confuddled and befused… This reading of The Last Four Things was my second and I still don't quite know quite what to make of it, so I will simply try to pass on the feelings experienced whilst reading it. First off, I enjoyed it far less than The Left Hand of God - of that there is no doubt. Yes, the second pass was a better experience but while the first book's good points heavily outweighed the bad the second book drove me to distraction on many occasions.

But I still liked it and never once thought of putting it down and starting on something else. I just struggle to enthuse about it in the same way I felt compelled to do with the first.

Let's start first with the things I have liked most about the two Paul Hoffman books I have read. I really like the characters, especially the dialogue between them, with it often being irreverently humorous and with a feel of authenticity. Cale, Vague Henri, Idris Pukke, Bosco - all great creations that bounce of each other wonderfully well, often using Blackadder-levels of sarcasm, which I loved. But I am not half as keen on the world that has been (re)created and have particular issues with the way the author, in the form of the omniscient narrator, appears to have begun to brow-beat the reader with his own thoughts and beliefs, particularly on organised religion. In this The Last Four Things reminded me of The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, the third book in the His Dark Materials trilogy which, after entertaining readers for two books with a delightful story, the author took it upon himself to lecture and preach on his chosen topics, at the cost of the story itself, and losing the faith and trust of many readers who just hadn't signed up for these particular soap-box antics.

In retrospect another problem for me lay in the fact that the story did not seem to be progressing and much of the story seemed to be made up of battles. And these battles are another real issue as they seem to have been lifted out of history texts with the names and locations amended to fit. I don't in theory have a problem with this but here it began to seem like the author was simply lifting a load of information from different battles, at different times in human history, in different places in the world, then throwing into a renaming device and publishing. I believe that some have been very critical of this near "plagiarism" but it just struck me as a rather lazy and worse still, uninteresting.

So why the hell do I continue to read the series when I am having so many issues with it? I simply want - and need - to know what happens to Cale and associates and if it means wading through more mud than clear water to get there then it is something I have signed up for willingly. Maybe in book three everything will just click.

The trilogy which will be completed by The Beating of His Wings, which I am currently reading and currently enjoying more than this book. The shame is that The Last Four Things left me unmoved, too-often uninterested and often annoyed - which is in stark contrast to my experience when reading the first book, which had me rooting for the three boys for whom life had so far dealt a very tough hand. I found the story itself to be all over the place and if I was asked to pick out the parts that served a purpose in progressing the story then I would be left with a lot of left-over narrative strewn across the floor. I have seen a review which used the word schizophrenic and that might be exactly what my problem with it was- so much is good yet even more is average or poor. There is a lack of consistency that could well have been responsible for the constant wavering of my concentration and why, on many occasions, I found I had taken in very little of what I had been reading. There is an over-emphasis on war, battles and strategy that failed to raise tension or interest and even now, having finished the book, I struggle to see why it was given so much focus.

But as I've just said, I'm reading book three and things are much better, so hopefully the trilogy will finish with a flourish. So I would give The Last Four Things a big thumbs up for the characters and dialogue but the world (which I've failed to really mention in this review so will save it for The Beating of His Wings) and plot went from being of great interest to being just plain irritating while the story itself meandered rather aimlessly around.

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All reviews for: The Left Hand of God Trilogy

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