Audio-book review: Left Hand of God read by Sean Barrett

Rating 8.5/10

An example of storyteller and narrator in perfect harmony.

Image: The Left Hand of God book cover “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.

Paul Hoffman’s The Left Hand of God is a well-written book and makes for a highly enjoyable listen, particularly when narrated by a reader as good as Sean Barrett. Barrett’s tone, delivery and pacing are perfect and he has worked wonders in making the – not-insignificant number of – cast members all sound unique and authentic.

Hoffman’s book is not a masterpiece, it is good solid fantasy, its strength lies in its appeal that has crossed over into mainstream literature. It is not just fantasy fans that have enjoyed reading it but it has also managed to find favour in circles that would not usually read within the genre. No small achievement.

The telling of this story encompasses the listener in a warm and cosy feeling and the author and narrator immediately gain the listener’s trust. There is a vibrancy and life to the tale that provides great entertainment and that compels you to listen to the very end.

The good news is that there will be a sequel and, fingers crossed, Mr Hoffman and Mr Barrett will once again team up to record it. The audio-book version of The Left Hand of Darkness is an example of storyteller and narrator in perfect harmony. Great fun – one of the best fantasy audio-books.

The Left Hand of God
Paul Hoffman
Narrator: Sean Barrett
Length: 12 hours and 30 min

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