I received an e-ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
In The Hero’s Lot, we return to the world of Illustra so beautifully created in A Cast of Stones, the first book in The Staff and the Sword series by Patrick W. Carr. The Hero’s Lot picks up not long after the intense conclusion of book one, with the survivors (on both sides) pulling themselves together, picking up the pieces and attempting to figure out what to do next.
This second entry is more layered, more complex than the first book. A Cast of Stones created sturdy foundation for this fantasy series, and now the sequel can provide the flourishes as it simultaneously delves into the backgrounds of our characters and drives them ahead into a difficult, dangerous and uncertain future. Secrets and intrigue abound, surrounding everyone across the good guy/bad guy spectrum, entwining the lives of various characters and providing grist for the myriad subplots with which this more intense sequel is teeming.
At its most basic, this is the story of Errol’s (our hero) mission deep behind enemy lines to track and dispose of Sarin (Number 2 Bad Guy who survived and escaped at the end of book one). Our point of view shifts between Errol and his traveling companions and his friends Martin and Luis, who travel to Callowford seeking information about Errol, his true identity and his importance to the kingdom. Like any good sequel, this one deepens the overall story of the series, explaining more of the world and the characters while also re-shading what we thought we knew — the brighter light calls out even more shadow and darkness.
Action, intrigue, scheming, power struggles, an unstable religious hierarchy, a kingdom in need of a king, a dash of romance and good old-fashioned adventure combine to create a compelling fantasy world populated with interesting characters. All in all a great read for anyone who enjoys a well-told fantasy!