cover image A Cast of Stones

A Cast of Stones

Patrick W. Carr. Bethany House, $14.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-7642-1043-3

Errol’s life is an alcoholic scrabble through village tedium until the day a church messenger asks him to convey important letters to Martin, the local hermit, as only Errol has the wilderness skills to reach the priest quickly. When Martin realizes Errol has the gift of sight, the priest and his enigmatic servant, Luis, force Errol to join them on an urgent trip to the church’s seat in Erinon, where the king’s successor will be chosen. Life is no longer a drunken stupor, but unless Errol embraces his gifts and his calling, it’s likely to be brutally short. Carr’s debut, the first in a series, is assured and up-tempo, with much to enjoy in characterization and description—not least the homely, life-as-lived details—but the plot is convention-bound, set in a standard white male fantasy world with standard virtues and flaws. Understated Christian elements are somewhat undercut by the church’s reliance on assassins and fortune-tellers, but non-Christian fantasy fans will take it all in stride. (Feb.)