{Review} A CAST OF STONES by Patrick W. Carr

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword, #1)SMELLS OF EARTH and dung drifted slowly past the fog in Errol's brain.  His skin prickled with cold.  Water and ooze soaked his threadbare garments and he shivered.  Cruk had thrown him out of the tavern.  Again.  Hanks of brown hair dripping muck hung across his vision.  The ringing of Liam's hammer just across the street paused, then started again with light tapping blows, as if in laughter.

(Page 7, US e-ARC edition)

While A CAST OF STONES starts off slowly, as most fantasies are wont to do due to backstory, it quickly picks up the pace and invests readers into the plight of main character Errol.  Despite only being nineteen, Errol is already down on his luck, and can always be found drowning his memories away in ale.  He works only to buy more ale, and is rarely sober.  When a nuntius bearing "the most important messages in half a century" arrives, Errol sets out to deliver them over dangerous territory to Pater Martin, a priest who lives in a remote, hard-to-reach area.  He realizes that what he carries is no ordinary message as an assassin appears and attempts to stop him from delivering the messages.

Pater Martin and his servant, Luis, are both far more than they appear to be, and they take Errol with them when they leave.  Errol finds himself on a journey like no other as they are joined by Cruk the tavern-keeper and Liam, everyone's golden boy.  No one is as they appear, and everyone harbors secrets, dark dangerous ones that threaten enemies wishing to change the future as the kingdom prepares to find a new king.  The revelations at the book's end will leave readers eager for the second title in the series, THE HERO'S LOT, coming this July.

Patrick W. Carr's writing is perfectly-paced, never too fast or slow.  Even though there is violence, it's never graphic or hard to read.  Instead, readers find themselves pulling for Errol, the novel's sullied protagonist, as he struggles to shape up and make something of himself.  We feel his jealously when comparing himself to the golden Liam, his desperation to please Pater Martin and Luis, his self-loathing that landed him a nightly date with the ale barrel in the first place.  Errol comes so far from who he was at the novel's beginning by the end that he's barely recognizable as the same person.  Readers will really root for him, and Carr has developed him well.  A CAST OF STONES is categorized as both a fantasy novel and as Christian fiction, so it's clean, but never feels preachy.  Instead, it's easy to focus on the kingdom's politics and struggle for power, which is one thing I love about medieval fantasy.  There's a lot of unique world-building at play, and I'm eager to see where the series takes us next.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is what first caught my eye.  Then again, if you throw a castle on the cover of a book, that's not hard to do.  I'll immediately pick it up and take a look based on that element alone. ^^;

I was intrigued by all the white at the foreground and, before reading the book, thought I was looking at dragon eggs.  But the image is actually of something much, much different, something crucial that is revealed in the story.

The atmosphere is dark, too; you can tell that this kingdom is in trouble thanks to that stormy sky and the perfectly colored title.

The elements are mysterious and intriguing, and made me want to know more!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Patrick W. Carr
Release Date: Feb. 1, 2013
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers / Baker Publishing Group
Received: For Review

In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone's search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom. 

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom's dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.


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