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The Right Hand of God by Russell Kirkpatrick

The Right Hand of God (2005)

by Russell Kirkpatrick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Fire of Heaven [Kirkpatrick] (3), Faltha (3)

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Orbit,fall07,fantasy,epic, ( )
  lencicki | Aug 28, 2013 |
  orbitbooks | May 9, 2013 |
This review probably contains SPOILERS.

Having bought all three books at the same time, I figured I'd finish the trilogy - at least to see how Kirkpatrick wound up his theological arguments. While I didn't expect a dramatic change in the plotting or style, I was nonetheless disappointed. First, a major plot thread in this book - indeed, the last to be resolved, for whatever that signals about its importance -- is the captivity of the lead female character. It is horrible. She is abused, debased, cast from danger into greater danger with no hope of escape, taunted, and made to witness murder, rape, and the slaughter of children. Then, of course, she eventually has a chance to escape, after someone else (God Himself, in this story) lays her captor low. This thread goes on and on and is just obnoxious.

The second frustration is that, after building the trilogy around a critical theological question -- are the characters acting best when they turn their lives entirely over to the Most High, or when they exercise their independent, fallible judgment -- Kirkpatrick punts. At the vital moment of revelation, the Most High and Leith agree to talk about 'it' (everything) later... and then they don't, at least not where the reader can see, even though the plot continues for another nine months. Which is a neat way for the author to sidestep the deep moral contradictions implicit in the world he has created, but it basically leaves unresolved all the characters' previous discussions of whether the Most High is a just god and deserves the characters' faith. It's possible that, for Kirkpatrick, if the Most High exists, he is by definition righteous; in which case, by revealing that he exists and has intervened actively in the world, the plot answers the characters' question. But for a skeptical reader, it doesn't, which makes for an unsatisfying ending. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jul 6, 2011 |
Interesting. The overtly religious aspects of the series came into focus, and actually weren't quite as bad as I feared. But … too often I found myself unable to tell which character was doing what – there's not much differentiation between the various characters, and their voices, actions, and motivations all blur into one. While Leith is (sadly) believable, the female characters in particular seemed pretty two-dimensional. Beautiful? Check. Willful? Check. Punished for their willfulness? Check. In love with the appropriate male hero? Check. By the time the Ice Queen arrived, it was a bit like watching a doll being unpacked. Need to ramp up the Girl Power quotient? Insert gratuitous exotic powerful female in the last few chapters.

The other bit of tokenism that annoyed was the Children of the Mist. I don't know if non-New Zealanders would pick up that they were based on Maori (complete with bits of dialogue in Te Reo, which I really loved). The trouble is, the main character we meet as a representative of the people was even more of a stereotype than the female characters. Dark-skinned savage? Check. Goes off about honour? Check. Has a big club? Check. One of the most interesting aspects of the series was the points it raised about colonialism. Which were completely undermined by making Te Tuahungata such a cliché.

Another problem I had was that I kept hearing the echo of other fantasy series behind various sections – a common grumble with fantasy. Although it was less annoying here than it can be (don't get me started on His Dark Materials), it was something that interfered with the pleasure I had in the story. Strong echoes of both Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time and Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, and even stronger echoes of CS Lewis's Narnia books. And if the arrival of the southern fleet seems familiar but you can't place it, reread The Return of the King.

My final complaint was that the ending was too pat. Too much was resolved without anything actually happening to bring it about. Deus ex machina is one thing, but this felt more like the author realising he'd left three or four dozen loose threads, and no ideas left about how to tie them up. (Not helped by Orbit sticking a couple of pages of Kirkpatrick's next novel in the end of the book!) Again, the annoying thing is that Kirkpatrick obviously has good ideas, and is capable of good writing.

Having said all that, it's an interesting debut, and did deliver things it promised – just not all of them.
I will keep my eyes open for his next books. ( )
  joannasephine | Jan 27, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Russell Kirkpatrickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cotton, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316003433, Mass Market Paperback)

The company has been scattered far and wide in its mission to prepare Faltha for war - now the armies of the Destroyer are near and invasion is imminent.

Leith has returned to the city of Instruere. Bearing with him the legendary Jugom Ark, thousands flock to him to fight for Faltha in the coming battle. But Leith struggles to accept their faith in him, and his role as custodian of this sacred artifact.

As the land darkens under the shadow of impending battle, the company must strive against treachery and self-doubt - for a great evil approaches.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The company has been scattered far and wide in its mission to prepare Faltha for war - now the armies of the Destroyer are near and invasion is imminent.

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Orbit Books

An edition of this book was published by Orbit Books.

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