The Hand of Raziel, by Matthew S. Cox


Risa Black will decide the fate of an entire planet. After all, an angel told her so. Orphaned young, she grows up among the resistance, fighting to give the people of Mars command of their own destiny. Two governments from Earth vie for control of the Red Planet; she wants them gone, regardless of how many explosives it takes. To the outside world, she’s an emotionless, broken marionette. Inside, her father’s fiery end haunts her every waking moment. She never cared for destiny or politics, until the angel Raziel focused her anger. Both friend and foe alike believe her grip on sanity tenuous; she knows he is real, and pities those who will never feel his divine presence. Whenever her adrenaline wears off, guilt at what her bombs did cuts deep, as does the apathy of the citizens she wants to liberate. The pain worsens after unexpected love cracks open her armored heart, causing her to question the role she plays in the bloody conflict. Torn between duty and desire, she learns change never comes without loss. Even to the Hand of Raziel.

My first exposure to Matt Cox was Emma and the Banderwigh. Unfortunately, I did not finish that book, but the writing was good enough that when I saw The Hand of Raziel on NetGalley, I requested it right away.

The writing, in my opinion, was better than the other Matt Cox book I read. Many stories about a femme fatale end up with some seriously unrealistic situations, and the heroine magically has all the skills to do everything. In The Hand of Raziel, those skills make sense, since Risa’s augmentation allows a Matrix-style learning of skills. I appreciated the way that Cox portrayed some of the skills that Risa learned. There was a certain amount of apprehension on using those skills, which makes sense from a humanistic perspective.

The Hand of Raziel tells the personal tale of a broken young woman who thinks her view of the world is as solid as the tech she has in her body. Cox pulls the rug out from under us and lets us know that not everything is what it seems, and he ends book one in a satisfying way that sets up the second book without short-changing the first.

It took me a little over a week to read The Hand of Raziel because it is a long book. I enjoyed the time spent reading it and look forward to reading subsequent books in the series. A four-star read, I recommend picking up The Hand of Raziel, and I’ll probably check out Cox’s other same-universe series, Division Zero.


Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey. Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it. He is also fond of cats.


About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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