Thursday, 14 April 2011

Books Received | The Last Four Things At Last

A shadow has fallen on this house since the mailman came the other day, bearing a gift, and a woeful burden.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

That's right.

If you haven't been reading The Speculative Scotsman the whole time I've been at it, this one time I'll forgive you - just so long as you click through to peruse my review of The Left Hand of God from March last year. And then maybe one of the opinion pieces that came in the fallout from the review, too.

Still among the most trafficked articles on TSS entire, those.

So it was with hope and no small amount of trepidation that I took possession of a review copy of The Last Four Things a few days ago. Of course I remember how very wrongly The Left Hand of God rubbed me, yet I found myself wishing that this sequel has learned where there was learning to be done. Because many other reviewers - like Liviu and Robert Thompson - really did enjoy it. And I'd like to have a nice thing or two to say about Paul Hoffman's work this time out. Things can't get much worse, can they?

Well, I've since read the first chapter - I couldn't resist, though I was and I am in the midst of another book - and I can confirm that no, things haven't gotten any worse. Which isn't to say they've necessarily gotten any better...

I should have a full review up within the next ten days. You may stay tuned.


Just a quick PS to say, since from time to time there's chatter about whether publishers and publicists get sore about negative publicity, Penguin and Michael Joseph were as polite and as professional as ever when I discussed coverage of The Last Four Things with one of their many, many representatives.

So kudos to them. Seriously.

Would that I could say the same about certain other... ah, but that'd be giving the game away, wouldn't it? You'll have to wait for my tell-all autobiography, The Rise and Fall of a Speculative Scotsman, due out this October, to hear about those. :)


  1. I should be having a review of this one come my way this summer as well. The first book was just good for me. But there was, for me, so great potential to really take off from for the second book. I'm really hoping the second one will do just that. I do hope you enjoy it much more than the first.

  2. When I read the first one, I was still (relatively speaking) new to fantasy, so I was one of the ones who rather enjoyed it. It was dark, sometimes needlessly graphic, and I wasn't 100% sure what it was trying to actually 'be', but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. Has my opinion of the first book changed, over the months of considerable fantasy consumption? Maybe a little, but I still remember it fondly. It's not, as I now am aware, as original as I thought it was; and I know of many authors who write, plot, etc. better than Hoffman. But I am looking forward to reading the second book.

    I got a review copy of 'The Last Four Things' this week as well, so it looks like there will be a slew of reviews in the next couple of weeks. Will be interesting to read your thoughts (after I've read it - I always try to avoid other reviews of something I'm about to read).

  3. A fine policy, Stefan. I try to do the same, though I'm not always entirely successful, I'll admit.

    I too wonder how I'm likely to feel about The Last Four Things now I've a year of reading more fantasy than I'd ever consumed before behind me. Which given my feelings last time, well... the signs aren't good for poor Paul Hoffman.

  4. Very much looking forward to your thoughts on this one.

    Also, are you planning on reading The Unremembered at all? I'm thinking it might be a similar The Left Hand of God situation.

  5. I'm thinking it might just be, Bryce. I tried twice, was twice very nearly infuriated by The Unremembered, and thrice vowed to give it another go, though I haven't gotten to that third approach as yet. And in all honesty I don't know that I will.

    I mean, I'd like to: because The Unremembered seems to be a bona fide big deal, because when I talked to Peter he was lovely and understanding, and because I'm not sure that my opinions of it will ever be aired if I don't, but... I've other more appealing things on my plate at this very moment. And it's tough, psyching yourself up to read something that's left you so cold before.

    Which isn't to say it won't happen. It totally could. Especially with folks like you saying it gets better and better...