Monday, April 21, 2014

'The Hero's Lot' by Patrick W Carr

The Hero's Lot (The Staff and the Sword, #2)
Riveting Sequel from Christian Fantasy's Most Talented New Voice
When Sarin Valon, the corrupt secondus of the conclave, flees Erinon and the kingdom, Errol Stone believes his troubles have at last ended. But other forces bent on the destruction of the kingdom remain and conspire to accuse Errol and his friends of a conspiracy to usurp the throne.
In a bid to keep the three of them from the axe, Archbenefice Canon sends Martin and Luis to Errol's home village, Callowford, to discover what makes him so important to the kingdom. But Errol is also accused of consorting with spirits. Convicted, his punishment is a journey to the enemy kingdom of Merakh, where he must find Sarin Valon, and kill him. To enforce their sentence, Errol is placed under a compulsion, and he is driven to accomplish his task or die resisting.

You need to read book 1, A Cast of Stones, before reading this one.

In this sequel, we have two points of view with divergent threads. Those evil forces who know our hero, Errol's, importance seem desperate to wipe out his perceived threat. Once again he is put under compulsion, this time by enemies within the church, to embark on a hopeless quest to ferret out and kill the corrupt Sarin Valon. Although they won't come out and say it, it's clearly intended to be a murder mission. At the same time, Martin Arwitten, the priest, along with Luis and Kruk, returns to Callowford, hoping to look into the histories of Liam and Errol to clarify the mysteries of the devastating split cast.

I thought I'd miss having the story told solely from Errol's point of view, but Martin's part turns out to be gripping and necessary. I was quite happy to go back and forth, as both threads have plenty of excitement, not the least of which is the shock revelation of Errol's parentage during Martin's return to Callowford. Another intriguing part of Martin's story is seeing him learn that his long-cherished church traditions may, in fact, be limited. It's fun to read his amazement as it becomes clear that the so-called 'unknowable' Aurae, (the Illustrian term for the Holy Spirit) may well be knowable after all, trumping the ancient system of lot casting. His painful quandary about how he's going to tell the church is very real. But my favourite part of his story is seeing him grapple with an emotional self-imposed compulsion he puts upon himself.

I love the two main female characters. Opposites in many ways, they are each equally strong and admirable.

Princess Adora, forced into a betrothal with the despicable bully, Lord Weir, decides to follow Errol on his compulsion to Merakh, and who would blame her? Near the end of 'A Cast of Stones' I'd been concerned that she might turn out to be a typecast beautiful princess, a mere token romantic interest to keep Errol in Erinon. I was delighted to see her strength of character shine through in this story, making her more complex.

I loved seeing the delicacy of their feelings for each other being played out. It's touching, to watch this confident princess, brought up in privilege and luxury, seriously wondering if she is indeed worthy of our former drunken street urchin, who in turn melts whenever he's near her. If you're romantically inclined, you'll love the scene with the rose.

And Rokha Ru is back again, a great tough, colourful character who keeps getting better. She's so sultry and exotic, and her humour and tendency to call a spade and spade embellish the storyline.

Once again, Errol's character makes the story phenomenal. He retains his perfect combination of vulnerability and heroism, set off by his naivety and ignorance of all that vitally concerns him. His inferiority complex and lack of confidence still come into play at times, and his empathy and compassion are as large as ever. As we still haven't fathomed the mystery of why the lots indicate both him and Liam for Sotoregia, getting straight to the conclusion, 'A Draw of Kings' is vital.

5 stars

 Hero's Lot, The (The Staff and the Sword) available from Amazon

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