Book Review: A Cast of Stones
By Patrick W. Carr
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 nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones. (Courtesy of bakerpublishinggroup.com)
Adult Point of View
A Cast of Stones was promoted under Christian books, which was a great disservice to the author, Patrick W. Carr. A Christian book brings to mind devotionals, books centered on the teachings of Christ, uplifting messages and other great moralistic tales. I don’t think of fantasy as a Christian book. A Cast of Stones is an epic fantasy and should be marketed to a broader audience.
A Cast of Stones won the 2014 Carol Award for Speculative Fiction and the 2014 Clive Staples Award. A Cast of Stones and The Hero’s Lot were both finalists for 2014 Christy Awards.
Patrick W. Carr is a high school math teacher, and I can’t figure out how he can write such a great book because my math teachers only spoke and thought in numbers and could barely speak English, let alone write a novel. I am in awe over his talent and think that he and Brandon Sanderson should be best friends because they are both so very talented.
Here are few things I loved about A Cast of Stones:
1) The Characters (at least a few)
Errol is full of human failings. He could have been a Byronic hero except for the fact that he is so humble. I love watching him grow.
Liam could have been very unlikeable because he is so perfect, but he remains likeable because he is a prude and unaware of his own abilities.
Adora has a strong moral values and even though she learns a little bit of sword work she doesn’t develop a mystic ability, and so she is more realistic.
Rokha also has a rough past and excels with a sword, but knows there are many men who are better than her with a weapon. She is a good foil for the naive princess.
Martin slides up and down the heirarchy of the church like a yo yo. He makes mistakes and struggles with his own set ways, but remains affable even though he is willing to use anyone to try to save the kingdom.
2) The World Building
A Cast of Stones feels like a complete world. The setting is a medieval world, where the church is a political force, there are pressures from foreign countries that are trying to invade the kingdom of Illustra and of course there is magic.
One of my favorite aspects was the religious structure. With the trinity of Deas, Eleison and unknowable Aurae, the role of priests and the power struggles the church felt familiar, but was still unique and integral to the plot. The magic in the kingdom stretched out from the gods in a way that is not explained and the power of the evil creatures is not entirely explained either. I liked the fact that mankind were a little in the dark about the workings of the gods and they too were learning as they questioned their beliefs.
3) The Plot
Fantasy, like other genres, has a plot line that is frequently followed. In this case, it’s the common youth who must overcome challenges to save the kingdom. The plot sounds rather drab if it wasn’t for the deft handling of new ideas and themes within the plot. Carr writes about prejudice, justice, sacrifice and forgiveness in such a way that it isn’t preachy, but flows with the fast pacing of the book to be natural.
I highly recommend this series. It is morally clean, though evidence of corruption abounds. There is violence.
A Cast of Stones is so very well written (my a math teacher!).
Carr has a new series starting in Nov 2015!
4.5 stars out of 5 stars
(possibly it should be 5 stars)
– the mother
If you liked this series try The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson and The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima.
Teen Point of View
I loved the character development. Errol was my favorite character. It is worth reading.
3.5 out of 5 stars
– the daughter