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The Last Four Things Paperback – Bargain Price, June 5, 2012
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“Brooding and magnificent. Hoffman has created a terrifying world and fitted it with strange and complex characters.” —Eoin Colfer, New York Times Bestselling Author of Artemis Fowl
“The Ender’s Game-meets-the-Inquisition premise should draw fans like moths to a flame. Clever phrasing and innate humor shine through...This novel will make a rousing next step for fans of Terry Goodkind, R.A. Salvatore, and their ilk.”—Library Journal
“Writers like Hoffman are too rare. This wonderful book gripped me from the first chapter and then dropped me days later, dazed and grinning to myself.” —Conn Iggulden, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Dangerous Book for Boys
“The plight of poor, tormented, invincible Cale beguiles, and the book’s true power is its utter unpredictability…engrossing.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A riveting, powerful tale, with irresistible characters, humor and a brilliantly imagined world.”—Publishers Weekly
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One month after beginning the book, I have finally finished. Compared to its predecessor, it's a slow, laborious read. The detail that I loved about the world is still there, as well as the addition of interesting new groups of people in it, but by contrast to the first, it's a war book. Where Left Hand was filled with fantastic scenes of Cale's individual struggle, Last Four Things mostly describes the large scale tactics of various battles and political machinations. Individual characters take a secondary role to large groups and their movements through the narrative (the Klepths, Laconics, Purgators, clergy members of Chartres) and as a result the book feels far less personal than did the first. Consider the analogy of the dog in a disaster movie: though thousands of people are dying, that dog will survive as an emotional anchor for the audience. Though thousands are dying here, the emotional anchors of individual interesting characters are mostly gone.
My other gripe has to do with Mr. Hoffman's editorial prose. His omniscient narrator is constantly winking at the audience with his language, pointing out dramatic irony and calling attention to himself as a pseudo-character. Like film editing, the best narration make you forget that it exists.
Nevertheless, I will definitely read the third book. Hoffman has set the stakes extremely high, and he has made believable the large-scale conflict, as well as Cale's role within it. I hope that the conclusion focuses less on the battles and more on the people that welcomed me into the world in the first place.
Of course it helps that Paul Hoffman is an exceptionally descriptive writer. The battle scenes (always a struggle on paper) are engrossing. Hoffman produces a bleak landscape and his fertile mind produces some of the most interesting "dark" characters in recent memory. A hallmark is the fanatical cruelty of the "Redeemers" - men who make the most horrific acts against others a mark of religious fervor. Perhaps that is where I was most struck by Hoffman's unapologetic pilfering of historical events. As a student of history his descriptions of battles and executions tickled my brain often enough for me to be appalled. While it's true that Hoffman has compressed these acts into a small time span. It's equally true that he's not simply "making it up" as he goes along (although his descriptive embellishments are memorable). He is instead drawing from a wealth of horrific crimes that man has been guilty of in the name of faith.
In the end I received a great deal of pleasure from the story. The pacing is terrific. The plot takes some wonderful twists away from the "boy messiah" journey I was expecting. I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. In the meantime I might just read this one again while chanting softly to myself - "Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell... The last four things on which we dwell".
Hoffman received a great deal of critisizm about this series and I invite any reader or listener to review Paul's rebutal found at the end of book 3 "The Beating of His Wings", if you don't care for what he saud or disagree then don't invest in the series, but I feel he did a great job answering his critics.
Please forgive my spelling and grammar error.
Top international reviews
I was torn between wanting to find out where the story was going but also not really caring.
The problem for me is two fold:
1)There is a lot that is good about the story but there is nothing particularly fresh or new. There are enough of these characters (steely dealers of death battling with being bad but not wanting to be bad...) now in the fantasy cannon. Thomas Cale is a good lead character. the supporting cast are also good...but less Vague Henry there is no character that you really care about. Everything and every character is just solid, fairly predictable and underdeveloped.
2) The author at times writes as if he is "very pleased with himself." At times the style and perspective are witty, insightful and clever (particularly when blurring the lines of history) but a lot of times it is self serving and not engaging for the reader - Simply put the writing made it very easy for me to put this book down - which I rarely do of a second book of a trilogy.
Ultimately this is a disappointing sequel, solid but uninspiring - I will read the third in the trilogy but I am in no particular rush.
This story has its moments, but on the whole is not as compelling as book one. The story seems to ramble and stagger to a conclusion without any of the cleverness seen in book one.
I don't feel as though I'm on Cale's side and to be honest the whole prophesy, whilst interesting, seems to lose its way.
By all means give this book a chance, there are some good battle scenes and the odd insight I found interesting. Just don't expect the grit found in the original.
Forget about Cale's mesmerising one-on-one fights, forget about epic battles and forget about the captivating and tumultuous romance from the first book. This one is more like a political/religious speech from the most boring person you can think of.
But if that was the only problem with it, I might have given it two stars; unfortunately you have to add the confusing and irrational way this book was written. It mixes real events with the most ridiculous ideas someone could have imagined, resulting in a storyline that makes no sense at all.
I agree with a reviewer that said this might have been pushed by the editor; but I would also add, that by the way it was written, it seems the result of a weekend involving some LSD consumption... It has been a long time since I felt so cheated into spending my money, I have a strong feeling that you too will be very, very disappointed with this book and this author.
Further review for the KINDLE VERSION: I am getting really tired of the lack of proof read in the kindle versions. I find spelling mistakes in every ebook I buy (and English is not my first language so I am sure there are more). But this editor gets the top prize of mistakes made, for both books. There seems to be one in every other page and I am not writing about simple mistakes like forgetting to add a letter or changing an "a" for an "e", but entire words that are switched resulting in phrases that make no sense at all.
It is a fascinating play on the vagaries of formal religion and young love! Wow!