As I stated in yesterday's post, I found A Cast of Stones a mixed bag. The story came to life for me in chapter eleven, when Errol meets the farmer Rale and his wife and daughter. Rale and his family nurse Errol back to health after he nearly drowns while fleeing from some more people trying to kill him. Rale helps Errol overcome his addiction and we learn why Errol took to drink. Rale sees potential in Errol and teaches him how to fight with a staff. The next segment of the story, when Errol joins a caravan heading for Erinon also held my attention. Errol puts his new found fighting skills to use and manages to resist the ale barrel. He's maturing quickly as the story progresses, maybe a bit so quickly at times as to stretch my credulity. He also meets a defrocked priest named Conger who fills him in on the history of the church and kingdom. Carr does wonderful work in these sections creating secondary characters with depth and interesting back stories.
What makes these sections work so well? First, they don't feature Martin, Luis, Cruk, and Liam. The characters in these sections explain to Errol what's going on in the kingdom and speculate with him why people are chasing him. More importantly than Errol learning this information, the reader learns the context. Carr keeps the reader in the dark for much of the story because we're limited to Errol's point of view. We can only know what Errol knows and make guesses from that scanty information. Also, it was never clear to me why Martin and Luis refused to tell Errol what was going on, even in broad outline. The political situation in the kingdom and its implications is no secret. Rale and Conger tell Errol everything they know without a second thought. It seemed to me that Carr was withholding information to create some sense of suspense or confusion. Instead of creating suspense, I felt frustrated and annoyed with some of the principal characters. Keeping a character in the dark is one thing but keeping readers in the dark can be dangerous. Adding some chapters from other points of view would have alleviated the problem.
I've read books before that feature heroic characters that approach near perfection. Liam appears to be one of those types. I find these characters annoying. No one is without problems or weaknesses. Liam's issues are missing which makes him rather dull. Another item missing from A Cast of Stones is a map. Not every fantasy book requires a map but Errol does a lot of traveling. Without a map, it's difficult to get your bearings.
Wondering if you should invest some money in this series? You can dive in for free. The Kindle version of A Cast of Stones is currently free on Amazon. Not sure if this is forever or a limited time offer, so get it now!
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of A Cast of Stones from the publisher.
To learn more about Carr and his work, check out his website and blog.
Check out what other CSFF bloggers are saying: