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Literature / Hand of Mercy

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One is for the lead, lifted holy high,
Two is for copper, the bath of maids who die.
Three is for the tin, and knockings in the dark,
Four is for mercury, ageing in the park.
Five is for iron, the knight that learnt to sing.
Six is for silver, the temple of the king.
Seven is the gold, the hallow of the spear,
These the bones of mercy for the hand that we must fear.

Hand of Mercy, by Ni Claydon, is an Urban Fantasy novel published in 2008. It's the story of Helen Hawthorn , who runs a shop called Asherwood Antiques in a quiet English market town. One evening her grandmother, the remarkable Nana Sophie, introduces her to Clemael, the Angel of Mercy. Clemael, more normally known as Clem, wants to reassemble his hand, which he'd been forced to sever in order to escape a human magician.


The bones of the Hand have been hidden or discarded all over England, and Helen and Clem begin gathering them up. On the way, they take a Cornish knocker named Salve under their (in one case, quite literal) wing, and accept the help of two humans named Poet and Birch.

With the Hand nearly completed, Helen works out that Nana Sophia is actually Chokkma, the Angel of Wisdom. To help Helen understand about angels, Nana Sophie sends her granddaughter to the place of silk and silver, essentially the part of Heaven where angels live.

Understanding more about the natures of angels and what happened during the Fall, Helen is still shocked when Nana Sophie casually mentions that Clem is actually a fallen angel.

Feeling deceived, Helen confronts Clem. It turns out that the Hand has been severed from him so long that it's become an artifact in it's own right. Clem plans to use it to undo every evil consequence that's ever happened to the world. When Helen points out that he'd destroy the laws of cause and effect, he ignores her and rebuilds the Hand. However, Helen has sabotaged the bones, by replacing one small bone with a carved piece of chalk. In a rage, Clem backhands her into a wall, where she's found and aided by Salve.


Collected by the immortal nephilim king Solomon, Helen and Salve find a repentant Clem hiding in a church. Solomon pronounces judgment on Clem- a hundred years of servitude to Helen. And if Helen dies during that time, Clem will have to spent the rest of the hundred years keeping vigil over her grave.

In the end, Helen, Clem and Salve all move in together, unaware that Nana Sophie is very pleased with the outcome.

Tropes used in this book.

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Technically Helen is an antiques dealer, but that doesn't stop her rifling through ancient artifacts, not to mention theft and trepass at Isham house.
  • Affably Evil: For most of the book, Clemael is well-mannered and surprisingly tolerant of Helen's issues.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Despite having been backhanded into a wall, Helen is curiously ambivalent as to whether she'll end up with Clem.
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  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Nana Sophie fills her house with piles of technology, her spare room effectively becoming a shrine to elderly typewriters. This doesn't impinge on her ability as the Angel of Wisdom.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Helen has a bag of goodies from the art supply shop that doesn't make sense when it's first mentioned.
  • Cool Old Lady: Nana Sophie fits this trope perfectly.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Clem ends the book there, but everyone acknowledges that's not a permanent measure.
  • The Fair Folk: Salve is a Cornish knocker, a sort of kobold from Cornish myth. While Salve himself is warm and friendly, his fellow knockers are malevolent tricksters.
  • God Is Evil: He's conspicuous by His absence, but the business with the Ephemerals looks very dodgy indeed.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: Cornish Knockers are inserted into the Fall by being made a healing order that patched up both sides. Not so dubious as it sounds. In another Cornish myth, the muryans (Cornish for ants) were too good for Hell but too bad for Heaven.
  • Kid with the Leash: Helen ends up holding Clem's leash, thanks to the judgment of Solomon.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Helen and Salve don't let a little thing like species difference get in the way of their affection.
  • Manchild: Salve is sweet and unworldly, having been in the bottom of a mineshaft for a few too many centuries.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Nana Sophie's little foray into rhyming prophecy, as quoted above.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Both Nana Sophie and Clem have done this, but in really different ways.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Most of the characters are angels of one flavour or another, so they pre-date the expulsion of Eden.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Last minute aversion- Clem's sentence is commuted to a hundred years of slavery instead.
  • Ship Sinking: There was a small argument on Fandom Secrets that revealed some people would rather Helen ended up with Salve. Word Of God shot this one down.
  • Shown Their Work: The author quotes from several sources, including some obscure Gnostic texts.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Quite literally, as the Fallen are depicted as a small band of martyrs just trying to end their people's slavery.
  • Title Drop: It's seldom just "Clem's hand", but an artifact in it's own right. This is presumably because it's been severed for over 400 years.
  • Urban Fantasy: It's set in the United Kingdom ? specifically, unnamed parts of England ? in the modern day.
  • Vanity Publishing: Published by, who are actually a print-on-demand (POD) publisher, rather than an old-school vanity publisher.
  • Villain Protagonist: Clemael, though to a lesser extent Salve and Nana Sophie by dint of being, if not Fallen, then certainly not loyalists.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The plan to undo all the evil in the world isn't bad, exactly, but Clem isn't bothered that this will destroy all of linear time.
  • Women Are Wiser: Nana Sophie isn't just the Angel of Wisdom, compared to her many brothers she's also apparently in charge of common sense.


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