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The Staff and the Sword #2
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.
I’ve been dying for this book since I gobbled up the first, A Cast of Stones, back in January. You can find my 5 star review HERE.
In book one we were introduced to Errol Stone, a young village drunk, who as typically in fantasy stories goes on to be some one of great importance to the kingdom. I’m not a fan of giving plot points away in reviews, so I’ll just say that Mr. Carr wove the story in a fresh, new way that had me clicking away on my kindle until ‘The End’. Couldn’t get enough of his character, of the young man’s plight, and his flight across the country.
In The Hero's Lot, Mr. Carr once again takes the reader into a well thought out world, one full of intrigue and details to create and roll a movie though the mind. Without fluff or purple prose, Errol’s country comes alive. The characters are consistent and more than one tugs on the heart strings.
On occasion, fantasy sequels bring about one problem after another in order to make up a series, often feeling forced. Not so with The Staff and the Sword! Book two is a perfect continuation of the conflict from book one. There is a natural progression that is pleasing and comfortable for someone as nitpicky as I am.
In The Hero's Lot, the focus is on two journeys, and I have to be honest and say that Errol’s took a back seat to Martin’s, the priest, for me. The emotions Martin deals with, the choices he is confronted with moved me much more than Errol’s. Yes, our MC is once more facing danger and death, but *spoiler alert is a must here* an element of romance is brought in that fell flat and felt forced for me. There is zero emotional development between the two – nix that. There is some on the female’s side, but we’re not given enough insight into Errol’s thoughts concerning her beyond his confusion. I’ve never met a male as clueless as our Errol, and for me that’s a big believability issue, which you all know I’m a total stickler for.
For that reason, book two started out slow for me. Yes, I was interested, but I had no problem putting down my kindle when I got tired. Just wasn’t as compelling as book one until about the ¾ mark. THEN we got rolling. The problem is, is that once that climactic moment hit, there were a lot of scenes that were summed up – told in a way that lowered the tension. When a group of people are escaping death, I want to taste and feel their fear for as long as possible.
Now it could be that some scenes were skimmed over in order to keep the word count at a decent number, but I would have enjoyed this book much more had the first half been skimmed and what should have been heart-pounding ending drawn out until I sweated.
All that being said (can we tell I was woken up early this morning and only had ½ cup of coffee??) I really did enjoy this book. It is complex, well thought out, and well worth the read.
Will I read book three? I heard Mr. Carr has finished writing it, but it won’t be available soon enough in my opinion. Can’t wait.