May 7, 2015

A Cast of Stones, by Patrick W. Carr

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 14+
Issues of Violence: fantasy violence
Intimacy Level: none
Language: none
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover Blurb:
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 merit 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.

Initial Reaction: *****
The first chapter was so action packed and tense I didn't realize I'd started reading the second chapter until it happened. This book pleasantly surprised me with the progression of plot, mystery, and tension.

Characters: *****
High fantasy isn't my usual go-to. Mostly because I'm awful at keeping multiple characters straight, which is a major characteristic in high fantasy. It's known for its endless characters and city names. (Almost all of which have two or three names by which they're referred, of course. Hello? Gandalf/Mithrandir/Grahame/White Rider/Olorin/Stormcrow....anyone?)

BUT...A Cast of Stones didn't leave me bored for a second. And, when I forgot a name here and there, Carr did a great job reminding me who was who.

Errol is a character who surprised you. I wasn't too interested in him at first, but he grew through this book. His character arc was about as perfect as a rainbow. As he traveled and learned, I found my drive to keep reading coming from the excitement of others seeing how amazing he'd become.

I think I would enjoy being Errol's friend.

Plot: *****
The reason I loved this book so much was for the character of Errol and the fascinating role of casting lots. The plot was still very interesting, but I was driven more by Errol's journey. Most of the plot involved watching Errol travel from one place to another, learning along the way. It was always interesting, but I expect to see more of the political side of things play out in book two. Overall, very well-done. I'd much rather get connected to the characters first before I delve into a thick plot. :-)

I'll admit, I almost danced a jig when I realized I wouldn't have to go through pages and pages of sword training. Don't get me wrong. Swords are cool. But I've read my fair share of "mr.-nobody-needs-to-learn-to-fight-with-a-sword" scenes in fantasy novels. These scenes are almost always done well, but I've seen too many of them. Two chapters of building muscle. Random fight. Two more chapters of learning technique. Big fight (with miraculous survival). Two more get the picture.

But...staff fighting is awesome. It makes me want to go spar with Little John in Robin Hood.

Spiritual Content: *****
I'm very curious about the church's role in this story. Deas (God) was presented in a manner where He could be a personal God, but I didn't see that side of Him portrayed yet. Errol's only at the start of his spiritual journey, I think and I'm very interested to see how he grows in book two. The church intimidated me in this book. I wasn't sure how I felt about it, like it could be the villain if it wanted.

All that to say, there are fantastic dynamics to the plot. I'm thrilled to have two more books with which to rap it all up.

I tend to rate novels over how much I think about them when I'm not reading them. Do they draw me back? Well, let me just tell you that I'd planned to re-read The Hunger Games series in preparation for the new movies but...I just couldn't put Errol's story down! Especially not mid-story! So I changed my plans. [grin]

Bravo and boundless applause to Patrick W. Carr for an excellent debut novel!

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Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die , released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

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