Thomas Cale has known no end of hardship. By age 14 he has seen more abuse, domination and neglect than many people see their entire lives; he faces random beatings, food not fit for rats (in fact, rats are a rare delicacy) and an existence that never wanders outside the realm of brutal military training, physical discipline and social isolation. Cale is a Redeemer in training. A brutal sect of religious zealots devoted to the cause of spreading their faith through the systematic elimination of non-believers known simply as the Antagonists, the Redeemers begin training and indoctrination as early as the human body will tolerate it, usually around seven or eight years old. Cale and thousands of others like him are taken by, sold to, or traded to the Redeemers and kept in a stronghold called Shotover Sanctuary in the middle of a blight known as the Scablands, miles from any real civilization.

One night, while searching for food with two other boys—the closest things to friends Cale could be said to have—a frightening and confusing discovery changes the course of his life at the Sanctuary, leading to his eventual escape, along with his unlikely companions. Unbeknownst to the disparate group, Cale’s life holds significance greater than any of them could ever imagine, and his absence sparks a deadly conflict that threatens to embroil his newly discovered world in a devastating war that has been a millennium in the making.

In The Left Hand of God, Paul Hoffman spins a tale of intrigue and mystery that is balanced with just the right amount of action, drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the world he has created. Hoffman’s world is not entirely unfamiliar, with some historical references creating guideposts through which his reality can be navigated, but he generally eschews the familiar and encourages the reader to become ensconced in Cale’s unique but sometimes hauntingly familiar world. While the prose may be slightly lacking in subtlety at times, and perhaps better suited to the younger reader, the storytelling is second to none; and the story itself is certainly enough to hook anyone who appreciates tight plotting and well-scripted action. Hoffman’s tale is a decidedly new twist in a genre than can often be riddled with cliché, and the appreciative reader will be glad to know that this is only the beginning of a series of books yet to come. The only disappointment is that we will all have to wait with bated breath for the adventure to continue.

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