Title: A Cast of Stones
Author: Patrick W. Carr
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group. Bethany House Publishers
A Cast of Stones is a richly told tale of an old world Kingdom where lots are drawn from balls carved in wood or stone to determine the answer to questions. Those with the talent to carve and draw the lots are called readers. Not only are they rare, but they are also being killed off as the old King draws closer to death without an heir. Who will be the next King? This is the question everyone wants to know.
This is an excellent book with a unique idea, a well structured plot, and nothing extraneous or missing. The atmosphere of the land is well-rendered, the action sequences immediate and the characters complex and well-drawn. But the real beauty of this book is the main character’s development from a drunkard youth to a fine man.
Errol is a simple, honest character who hides his pain in an ale barrel, but when another reader discovers that Errol is also a reader, he places the boy under a compulsion to report to the Clave – a kind of church – in a city far from his home. Errol begins a journey that soon makes it clear that he must learn how to defend himself. Someone is tracking him and trying to kill him. He and his companions have no idea who or why, and Errol nearly dies in an attack where he gets separated from his friends. Still under the compulsion he must make his way to the city, but on the way he gives up the ale and meets a man who teaches him to use the staff. Errol discovers that he is a natural with the weapon, and his self- esteem grows with his strength. Once out of its ale-induced haze, his mind proves to be a sharp ally, and Errol learns to read and to make quick, often life-saving, decisions.
Once with the Clave, he proves himself an important addition to the Watch as well as to the Readers and earns the respect of the King with his courage and fortitude. The end is inspiring and heart-warming, largely due to Errol’s humility, and the epilogue is a clever touch.
Personally, I would have liked a little humour to lighten the heaviness of Errol’s situation, but Errol’s extremely likeable character overcome that. He has a truly good heart.
I highly recommend the book for anyone who likes traditional fantasy.