Occasionally I have the opportunity to review new Christian fiction for Bethany House Publishers. The great thing about that is I get to feed my book habit without spending money. All that Bethany House asks in return is that I write a review of the book (positive or negative) and publish it here and on one of the major book sales websites. The book I read this time was A Cast of Stones by Patrick Carr. I was really excited to read it because it is from one of my favorite genres: Christian fantasy.
A Cast of Stones is set in the fictional world of Illustra, a medieval-esque country where the Church maintains great power both sacred and secular. In this world, there are a group of gifted people who have the ability to cast and read lots. Readers, as they are known, work for the church to provide direction in important decisions. When information is needed, a reader carves a pair of spheres out of wood or stone while considering the question. The spheres are then cast, and the answer is read from the one lot drawn.
The King of Illustra, Rodran, is aging and has no heir. The kingdom is at risk if a suitable replacement isn’t found. So, the church is gathering the readers to cast lots for who will be the next king. The enemies of the kingdom are doing their best to prevent this from happening.
Enter our hero, Errol Stone. He is not a likely hero: the town drunk and an orphan. He seems to have no ambition other than to drown his sorrows and memories. He seems to have no particular skills except getting into trouble. He is chosen to deliver a message. He agrees in order to earn money to feed his love for ale, and then his whole world gets turned upside down.
Someone tries to kill Errol on his way to deliver the Church summons to a reclusive priest. And so our hero finds himself at the start of his own epic journey of adventure and discovery. Where will it lead? What will he learn about himself and his place in the kingdom?
A Cast of Stones is without a doubt the best book I’ve read in a really long time. The story was very fast paced. I could hardly set it down. I never have liked long-winded paragraphs that many authors use to explain the setting or scenery. This book does not do that. The descriptions were vivid and helpful. The characters were well-developed and fascinating. The fantasy elements are not distracting from the story; they add surprise and depth to the overall narrative.
This is the first book by author Patrick Carr. I can’t wait for book two: A Hero’s Lot. I would highly recommend A Cast of Stones for anyone who enjoys a great adventure. The book is written for adults, but there isn’t anything that would be questionable for teens or even pre-teens. The book is available in paperback or e-book. If you read it, please let me know what you think!
Here is a book trailer for A Cast of Stones. It gives a brief synopsis and an overall feel for the book: