I’ve been waiting for this book since March, when I read Patrick Carr’s first novel, A Cast of Stones, and once again, I’m thrilled by Carr’s knack for creating the unexpected in The Hero’s Lot.
A lot has changed since Errol Stone was an orphan in Callowford, a drunk with hardly a name and no one to claim him. He goes by the title Milord now, and he just recovering after the treacherous reader Sarin Valon’s attack on the royal court.
But not much has really changed, Errol finds, when he faces a fatal accusation from the church’s Judica.
In penance—or perhaps as a death sentence—Errol comes a second time under the church’s compulsion. This time, Errol must track down Sarin Valon and capture or kill him. Valon—who only happens to be possessed of an evil malus, has the ability to track Errol’s every move, and is hiding in Merakh, a nation on the verge of war with the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Pater Martin and Luis—the priest and the reader who first pushed Errol into this mess—are running from the consequences of their own crime.
Unlike the previous book, The Hero’s Lot alternates between Errol’s point of view and Martin’s. I had no problem following Errol’s search for Valon in the first storyline, while the second half of the story takes Martin and Luis back to Callowford to answer the questions raised by Errol’s apparent importance to the kingdom’s future.
I could complain about some minor points, such as the way this medieval world seems to flatten out into the semi-camouflaged countries from John Flanagan’s The Ranger’s Apprentice series. After Carr’s unique approach to world-building and his use of church hierarchy in A Cast of Stones, I’m not sure how to take the Arab/Latin/Mongol countries he introduces here. Carr also produces a too-convenient ending for one annoying minor character. In that case particularly, I’d complain just because the character got off easy and ought to have gotten the comeuppance he deserved.
Those details aside, though, there is a lot to this story—a lost book, a lost colony of exiles, traitors in the church, as well as in the kingdom at large, Errol’s budding romance, a secret about his father, and other secrets about the decision he or the perfect Liam will have to make to save the kingdom. (I’m glad to say that the secret of Errol’s father didn’t turn how I would have guessed.) And, to add to the growing dangers, Luis and Pater Martin ride right into the conflict between the church’s teaching on Deas, Eleison, and Aurae, and those who claim to know Aurae for themselves.
Between a series of violence attacks and the occasional sparks of romance, The Hero’s Lot isn’t a children’s story, but it is a well-told story. Just as in A Cast of Stones, I enjoyed this read for its characters and the story-telling. It would probably be hard to follow all of the action, or understand Errol’s motives without having read A Cast of Stones first—but then, that isn’t exactly a drawback to my way of thinking...there’s a lot of the unexpected in both books.
[My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a review copy of The Hero's Lot in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.]