Dead Man’s Hand, Pieces of Hate, A Whisper of Southern Lights by Tim LebbonDead Man’s Hand, Pieces of Hate, A Whisper of Southern Lights by Tim Lebbon

Dead Man’s Hand, Pieces of Hate, A Whisper of Southern Lights by Tim LebbonThe three novellas Dead Man’s Hand, Pieces of Hate, and A Whisper of Southern Lights make up Tim Lebbon’s ASSASSIN series. They were originally published in 2004, 2005, and 2008 by Necessary Evil Press but were reprinted by in 2016. Tor packaged the first two stories together under the name Pieces of Hate.

The ASSASSIN series tells the story of a man named Gabriel who has, for centuries, been hunting Temple, a demon who slaughtered Gabriel’s family. Gabriel can feel when he is close to Temple and uses this sense to follow him all over the world. Every time they meet, Gabriel is battered a little more, but he is compelled, or perhaps cursed is the better word, to continue the struggle. He seems to have become immortal and he doesn’t know how long this will go on.

In Dead Man’s Hand (1.6 hours long in audio format), Gabriel arrives in a Wild West-type town called Deadwood, looking for Temple. When a local shopkeeper named Doug notices the brooding Gabriel, he is intrigued. Then Doug gets caught up in their epic battle, experiences many horrors, and has his entire worldview altered.

In Pieces of Hate (2.3 hours long in audio format), Gabriel has taken passage on a pirate ship as he follows Temple out to sea. Like Doug the shopkeeper from Deadwood, the pirate captain is intrigued by Gabriel and soon the pirates are involved in his conflict with Temple. Both the print and audio versions of Pieces of Hate also contain the novella Dead Man’s Hand.

Dead Man’s Hand, Pieces of Hate, A Whisper of Southern Lights by Tim LebbonA Whisper of Southern Lights (2.5 hours long in audio format) takes place in Singapore during World War II. Japanese soldiers are hunting a troop of British soldiers as Gabriel is hunting Temple. While trying to deal with the horrors of fighting the Japanese, one of the British soldiers discovers a dangerous secret that Gabriel is desperate to learn. As with the previous stories, this man is unwittingly dragged into the centuries-long conflict between Gabriel and Temple.

I have to say that I didn’t really enjoy these stories for a few reasons. One was that they were gruesome and unnecessarily, often shockingly, violent. Here’s an example:

“So it’s said, he slaughtered his family while they all slept. Mother, father, and three sisters. Raped his sisters’ corpses, cut off his father’s head, then went to Portsmouth and signed up with the first privateer he found.”

There were bleeding eyeballs, crows pecking out eyeballs, hangings, torture, and lots more grisliness. Yuck.

Another issue was a lack of originality in, especially, the first two settings. The Wild West town and the pirate ship (along with their denizens) felt like set pieces and caricatures. The setting of Pieces of Hate reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World — gold-toothed pirates drunkenly singing bawdy songs while waving bottles of rum.

Lastly, I just didn’t find the story very interesting. I didn’t really care about Gabriel’s quest and there wasn’t anything else to the plot other than Gabriel hunting Temple. There was no complexity, no layers, no tension. We know Gabriel is hunting Temple, we know he will find him at the end, we know they will fight, and then both will probably survive and do it again in the next story. I guess I just didn’t really see the point. (Although finally, in the very last sentence of the third novella, something interesting does happen, suggesting that a fourth story must be coming and might not follow the formula set by the first three stories.)

I listened to the audio versions produced by Macmillan Audio. Scott Sowers does a great job with the narration.

Dead Man’s Hand (2004): In the wilderness of the American West, the assassin is set to strike again. Despite his centuries-long curse, Gabriel is still but a man, scarred and bitter. The town of Deadwood has seen many such men… though it’s never seen anything quite like the half-demon known as Temple. This novella is republished in Pieces of Hate.

Pieces of Hate (2005): During the Dark Ages, a thing named Temple slaughtered Gabriel’s family. A man with snake eyes charged him to pursue the assassin wherever he may strike next and destroy him. Gabriel never believed he’d still be following Temple almost 1,000 years later. Because Temple may be a demon, the man with snake eyes cursed Gabriel with a life long enough to hunt him down. Now he has picked up Temple’s scent again. The Caribbean Sea is awash with pirate blood, and in such turmoil the outcome of any fight is far from certain.

A Whisper of Southern Lights (2008): Death and destruction follow the demon wherever he treads, and Gabriel is rarely far behind, waiting for his chance to extinguish the creature known as Temple once and for all. But in Singapore during the Second World War, a lone soldier in possession of a shattering secret gets caught up in their battle. The knowledge he holds could change the course of their ancient conflict… and the fate of the world.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.