Thursday, April 24, 2014

'A Draw of Kings' by Patrick W Carr

A Draw of Kings (The Staff and the Sword #3)
Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, much is changed on their return. In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and his intentions are to marry Adora to bring an heir.
With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and at growing risk from the armies of Merakh and Morgol.
A dangerous mission to free Errol succeeds, but the dangers facing the kingdom are mounting with every passing moment. The barrier has fallen, ferals are swarming toward the land, and their enemies draw near. Will the revelation of Illustra’s next true king come in time or will all be lost?

You must read 'A Cast of Stones' and 'The Hero's Lot' before this final book of the trilogy. This review includes a few spoilers from those first two books.

It's exciting to see all the loose ends tied up. The huge war, precipitated by King Rodran's death, is inevitable. The need for a new king is desperate, but Luis' carved lots still refuse to cooperate and give a straight answer of either Liam or Errol. This time, we have three points of view to follow, Errol's, Martin's and Adora's. Things are happening everywhere and the attempted grab for royalty by the corrupt Weir family is just the start.

To summarise quickly, Martin and co. accompany Karele on a quest to find his father, Ablijin, and gain the support of his people. Princess Adora is chosen to journey back to the Shadow Land exiles to consolidate their support. And Errol and co. are on a mission to recover the holy Book and return it to the Church.

Princess Adora shows yet another side of herself, the fierce warrior princess who will do anything to stand by her man. Her royal position provides her the opportunity to give Errol's old tormentor, Pater Antil, what he's had coming to him for years. Yet I can't help feeling that, all along, he's already reaped his actions without knowing it. Robbing himself of the chance to have a relationship with such an awesome son is surely more terrible than what Adora puts him through (for which I loved her. Her relationship with Errol is one of my favourites). What Antil says at the end of his last scene is thought-provoking and hard to shake away.

The big question which keeps us turning pages is answered brilliantly. Why did the lots keep delivering a tied result? I can understand how Luis, who put hours into his cast lots over 6 years, would call himself a dunce for overlooking it. What a clever twist - and how intriguing. The human agents were getting flustered and confused,but as far as the impersonal lots were concerned, they were giving just what they were asked for.

I do have a minor gripe or two about the ending. Not for what was there, which was fantastic as usual, but for what wasn't there! Those last few chapters seemed a bit gappy in some ways. I was disappointed to have no passage from Errol's point of view after the events of his big moment. We've been with him every breath of his journey, since he was a drunk in Callowford, cheering him on. Not having any processing of the major climax of events in his head left me feeling a bit cheated. In a way, it felt as if he was distancing himself from me as well as from the kingdom folk, and being one of his biggest fans, I didn't appreciate the distance. Still, that won't affect my final opinion of what I call a 5+ star series.

Having completed the trilogy, I'll be recommending it to all, including fantasy lovers I know who have objected to the magic element in other series such as 'Harry Potter.' There is no hocus pocus in the Staff and the Sword trilogy, but plenty of spiritual warfare. Everything is based on the Bible, including the old church system of lot casting. The Illustrian concept of the Holy Trinity is a mirror of ours and there is rich symbolism reflecting the story of Redemption. If you're looking for a stunning fantasy series, these books are a must-read. I'm sure you'll find Errol and his friends well worth it.

5 stars

Draw of Kings, A (The Staff and the Sword) available from Amazon

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