Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Cast of Stones

 This was one of those books everyone was ranting about, all at once. I'd go to read a blog and this book would be there. I found it, either for free or 99 cents on Kindle and figured if so many loved it I would see how well I liked it. I gave it a four star rating on Goodreads, but I still can't decide if I loved it or didn't like it.

 A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr

 I am having trouble summing up the plot, so this is the summary from Goodreads.

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

 Now, I know I said that I can't decide if I dislike the story, don't think I mean by that that it was horrible. Have you ever read a book which was so unusual that you were left baffled as to your own feelings? That kind of explains how I am with this book.

 I know I liked the characters, a lot. Errol was not the typical hero. For starts, he begins the story as a drunk and the shame of his town. (I don't think I've come across a story yet that has the hero has the town drunk.) All Errol cares about is getting money so he can buy his next drink. He doesn't know he is being watched because he is important to the kingdom. He slowly goes from  being a drunk who only cares about himself to a hero I was cheering for.

 The other characters were really good too. I think my favourite, maybe it is tie though between him and Errol, was Liam. In some ways Liam came off as almost TOO good. (Everything he did he was good at. And extremely modest about it. I like good heroes, so I never complain when one finally shows up in a book, but there is a line and this book almost crossed it. I still like to know my heroes are human.) But, really, Liam was very cool and I liked him lots.

 The parts in the book which left me with mixed emotions had a lot to do with the ending, the girls, and the casting of lots. I don't really get casting lots, but this just came off as really weird sometimes. There was this whole order of monk like men who would get together in dark rooms and carve names on stones and wood and try and discern what was going to happen when the heirless king died. Part of it was confusing and part kind of creepy. I think I might have liked it a little better if I'd gotten what the whole cast had to do with the story and why everyone was so sneaky about it when the whole kingdom knew they did it.
 The girls really kind of bugged me. There were five girls in the story and Errol at one point or another seemed to be falling in love with all of them. By the time he met the king's niece - another confusing point because I would think she would be heir to the throne - I wasn't sure if he really loved her or what. (And that kind of bugged me too. Errol was not the typical hero, and then he fell in love with the beautiful, amazing princess.)
 The ending I won't say because of spoilers. But the whole book is leading up to it being really obvious who the next king is going to be. They go on this whole journey, pretty much, for this fellow. And then at the end they change it and it felt weird. Like the next book needed a plot so this had to be thrown in at the end.

 In spite of all that, the story was good. While I did get confused at points, I still enjoyed it. I loved that Errol was not the kind of hero who picks up a sword for his first time and kills all his enemies. Instead, he never gets really good with the sword and learns to use a staff. I liked all of the twists and scene changes in the plot and the battle at the end.

 I do plan on finishing the series. I won't be getting the books in paperback, but for my ebooks, but I do plan on reading the next two. And this is a book I would recommend. Probably not to everyone, but to those who really like fantasy stories. Who knows, everyone else who reads it might get it better than me. I am, after all, a very easily confused person.

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