Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L: The Left Hand of God

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. I hope you'll also read my post at the IWSG group today where I wrote about letting it go.

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman is a cross between dark fantasy and alternative history fantasy. I'm going to reread it from the beginning to try and figure it out its genre. But there are elements in the book that kept me glued to the pages. It has everything. Perverted religions. Corrupt leaderships. Class warfare. Antiheroes galore. Love; unhealthy, unrequited and sweet. And the main character is young, never
older than his teen years throughout the series. Yet this book is far from a YA tale. The subject matter from the first chapter when the protagonist is still a child, is dark and scary. The abuses heaped on that young boy read like a horror story. And like many dark fantasies, there is no Happily Ever After for many of the characters. Well, nearly all of them. They save the world but not themselves.

Lesson: Religious fervor and conflicts make for great fantasy plots. There's a lot of leeway in interpretation of heroism. It's okay to convince a reader to love a character and then kill that character off. Even psychological damaged antiheroes really only want love. You can write a terrific adult story even if your main protagonist is a child or teenager.

"Silence is also speech." Yiddish proverb

"Any fool can have bad luck; the art consists in knowing how to explain it." Frank Wedekind (This book reminds of Paul Hoffman's series)

I hope A to Z is going well for you. It's fun so far. If you're starting to feel overwhelmed you might be trying to do too much. 

Do you find religious conflicts are common in fantasy novels? Has it always been that way or is the current world situation leading to its popularity? Can you name a book that has children as main characters but that written for an adult audience?

43 comments:

  1. I hate character death with a fiery, fiery passion - that's why I can't watch or read Game of Thrones :) I think I shall have to pass on this one.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. This is not a HEA series for most of the characters.

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  2. The lead in Sword of Shannara was young when the story began.
    I don't mind dark (Joe Abercrombie writes dark) but I do like a mostly happy ending.

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    1. I used to read Joe but some of his stuff is too dark even for me. Can't remember which book I read but I couldn't bring myself to like even one character.

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  3. I couldn't agree more, especially with your last comment--that you can write adult novels with a child protagonist. Have no idea why those limitations were put there in the first place.

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    1. I think some adults just turn away from a book with a young protagonists.

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  4. Religious conflicts can sure help out a lot with writing. Fun to pull a u turn and kill them too

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    1. Religious conflict is certainly familiar to us today.

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  5. Fantasy and sci-fi are at their best when they tackle social issues. Oh, but I do hate it when they get you to fall in love with a character and then kill him off. Heartbreak.

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    1. And those fantasy writers do love to kill off characters, don't they?

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  6. I've killed off character I've loved. Sometimes, the story calls for it.

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  7. I wondered where "The left hand of God" was going to lead in your title. It does sound like a good read. This one is the one I might have to read. I have developed a fascination with the antihero. I am a literary fiction kind of gal but I do branch out. lol.

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    1. This is a great antihero story. But he was molded into the person he becomes.

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  8. I've heard great things about this book.

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  9. I love reading about antiheroes. I'll have to add this one to my TBR list.

    My latest blogging A to Z challenge post.

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    1. This is probably my favorite antihero of all time.

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  10. Sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

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    1. You should check it out. Lots of diverse characters.

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  11. Not read this, but it looks good. I'll check it out...:)

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    1. It's on my keeper shelf so I do recommend it.

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  12. I think it is often necessary to kill off a character. But it is a lost opportunity as the story progresses. So it is also not wise to do so! A good writer has to strike a balance!

    Hank

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    1. That is a good point. The death has to advance the story in some way.

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  13. For a second there, I thought you were going to talk about the Hugh Holton (no relation) novel of the same name. If you're ever in the mood for a good police procedural, that's a good one.

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    1. I might check that out. I like some police procedures.

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  14. A book that comes to mind is Jeanne Kalogridis's The Devil's Queen. It starts off with the "heroine" as a child and it is NOT a book for children. LOL. Not. At. All.

    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony

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    1. I'm not familiar with that one. Put on my ever growing list.

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  15. A cross between dark fantasy and alternative history fantasy?
    Now I'm trying to wrap my mind around the "alternative history fantasy" part? *dumb look on face*
    I'm totally lost!

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    1. A lot of alternative history novels have some fantasy elements with magic or fantasy creatures mixed into the story.

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  16. I don't have anything to add here, but wanted to let you know that I stopped by. Wishing you the best. And hoping for no more snow!

    Yes, 8 on the pan. Two fours, baby. Two fours.

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  17. That series looks like a good read. I may have to put that on my list.

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  18. I heard a lot about this book back in 2010 (I think). It is marketed as a YA book, but a pretty dark one. It's right up my alley!

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  19. I haven't read this one wither. I have so many books that I've added to my list, just from this challenge, that I should be busy for the next two years. Thanks for the suggestion summary.

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  20. Visiting during the #Challenge and always start with fellow writers. I applaud your theme choice. Thanks for all the hard work it takes to participate. I love a blog where i can learn something new. Thanks. Come see what I'm up to if you have time.

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  21. I think I'm going to look up that Left Hand of God book... your description/review is very intriguing!

    I don't read (m)any fantasy novels, but I can see where religious strife can give a lot of juice to a great tale.

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  22. I have to check this book out, it does sound interesting. After reading a lot of people's recommendations and reviews doing the A/Z challenge, I have quite a bit of books to keep me occupied until next year's challenge! I find regarding the challenge a bit overwhelmed at times only because I got the curve ball of mandatory overtime put in that was not a possibility when I signed up for the challenge, but I'm muddling through :)

    betty

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  23. Is Lord of the Flies an adult book? It's pretty dark. I think social commentary in books can be a good thing, and add an extra layer to proceedings, as long as it doesn't overwhelm the plot and make it seem like the author has an axe to grind.

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  24. I like religious tones books. They always seem to make ya think!

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  25. It seems like an Interesting book will try to get hold of this..

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  26. Hi Susan .. looks an interesting read and we can learn from these sorts of book .. cheers Hilary

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  27. Not big on religion but love the killing!
    Heather

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