I enjoyed reading this view of good and evil as presented in life during the days of kings and knights and the Church. The protagonist Errol is an unlikely hero who has no desire to do anything but get enough money for his next trip to the local pub. But through an unexpected encounter, he is drawn into an amazing adventure with two priests who have been hidden away while trying to decipher what must occur to drive out the forces of evil overtaking the land while the old "good" king lays at death's door.
The ending is a "cliff hanger" and did not leave me with the ending that I had assumed would occur. In order to know the outcome, I will have to read the next story! I would liked to have seen some closure to this story first! Overall, however, it is a lightly humorous story which emphasizes loyalty to friends and one's faith.
Errol Stone is something of a misfit in the village of Callowford. His fondness for drink the driving force of his life, the only kindness he's shown comes from a reclusive (and somwhat irregular) priest. When a church messenger offers him a rich sum to deliver a message to the afore-mentioned priest, he gladly accepts, only to find himself fleeing for his life and swept into a web of political intrigues as the tme to choose a new King draws near.
I'll admit that I wasn't certain about A Cast of Stones (I often reserve judgement on new series) - I had my discernment antennae up about the reader's art where stones are carved and drawn to determine the truth. However, never fear fellow readers who avoid occultic practices by the good guys! These stones are akin to lots in the Bible, because the king has no successor, the next king must be chosen by casting stones that can only be created and read by those with the ability to do so. The importance of the lack of an heir becomes more pronounced as the book progresses. Not only is this king a political figure, he's also the descendant in a sacrificial line, and vitally important to spiritual shields that stand around the kingdom, providing it with protection from evil forces.
Carr draws a fine line with Errol, he truly is almost completely unlikeable for a good third of this first title in the series. His character development is then truly authentic, slow-paced, and believable. His fellow companions in his hero's journey are portrayed vibrantly as well, making for interesting travelling partners. When their paths diverge and the point of view passes back and forth, both of the plot streams are equally enjoyable.
Now, I have to admit (and this is to your advantage) - I've already read the second in the series, The Hero's Lot, and I can confidently say that Carr is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine! This excellent epic fantasy series from Bethany House (God bless them for continuing to publish Christian fantasy novels) includes a classic hero's plot arc, political intrigues, exotic locales, and of course, a certain amount of romantic tension as well. We are also treated to hints of a burgeoning reformation in a spiritual system that closely mirrors the bureaucracy and power-mongering of the Middle Ages Catholic church and force of darkness at work to manipulate politics for their own ends.
Essentially - I cannot wait for the third book to come out! Draw of Kings, I long for you! (Slated for release in January 2014!)
Wow, what a good book! A Cast of Stones is the best fiction book I've read in awhile, and is one that I can see myself reading over and over. I spent the greater part of yesterday afternoon and evening (and past bedtime) glued to its pages. This book was written with depth and intrigue. Patrick W. Carr, the author, definitely has a talent for writing really good books! This is the type of book where you feel as if you are living the story right alongside the characters, and the story sticks with you long after you have finished reading. I would highly recommend this book. Kudos to the author on a job well done! I can't wait to read the sequel.
Thank you so much to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a free copy of A Cast of Stones in exchange for my honest review. It was one of those books that I am really glad that I decided to order for review. I enjoyed reading it so much and I hope others enjoy it as much as I did!