The Hero’s Lot, by Patrick W. Carr
Genre: Young Reader Christian Fantasy
Reason for Reading: This is the second book in a series I began last year. The first was quite interesting – reviewed here – and I’m eager for the third to come out later this year.
Synopsis: In this second book of The Staff and the Sword series, Errol is compelled by powerful members of the conclave to go to a dangerous land and kill the traitor Sarin Valon. With a mixture of stubbornness and bravery, the princess follows Errol on his dangerous journey.
My thoughts: This book didn’t have quite the flare of the first in the series, but it was nevertheless quite enjoyable. The adventure was much more clearly laid out in this book, which made it less mysterious than the first, but the plot was thicker as a result. The story emphasizes the importance of forgiveness, and raises interesting questions about whether Church authority is “good” just because it follows conservative values that have worked for centuries. I tend to believe that Carr’s church is symbolic for the Catholic Church, and the hints of church-shattering philosophical changes that will come in the next book symbolize the conversion to Protestantism or perhaps simply the disgust many people have these days about the sex scandals in the Catholic Church. However, that’s a message intended for adults, I suspect, and the target audience – ages 12-15 will probably mostly miss it. The dangerous foreign land that Errol traveled to clearly symbolized Egypt / Muslims – Carr included some rather direct hints to that effect. I felt a little sad that the people of that land were generalized as evil, except for those that had been converted by God’s Christian word. Those few characters who weren’t pure evil seemed rather weak and a little selfish. Messages like this always make me sad – especially in children’s books – but I understand that it’s difficult to write an epic fantasy without having a hint of xenophobia. Someone has to be “evil” right? I’m not sure how this problem can be gracefully avoided. At the very least, there were “bad” people and “good” people on both sides of the border, which is as much as I can rightfully wish for, I suppose. 🙂
Hero’s Lot, by Patrick W. Carr
The Hero’s Lot, by Patrick W. Carr
4 thoughts on “Hero’s Lot, by Patrick W. Carr”
Sounds like a fun series. I love these science fiction/fantasy world, especially when they come with interesting themes attached.
Your commentary made me think about how certain themes stay with us so long and pop up in so many diverse places. I am currently reading Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers. In it a character that is contemplating converting from Protestantism to the Roman Catholic Church and the issues of relying upon central religious authority verses following a pious path dictated by one's own conscience is explored in that book too.
I just picked up the first book in the series free on Amazon, so I'm particularly interested in your thoughts on this one. I am uncomfortable with the “nonChristian = evil” trope, thought it has a venerable history in Christian fantasy (i.e., Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, which I love because it's a wonderful story, although I find troubling its rather obvious demonizing of Islam.)
Yes, the conversion from Roman Catholic to Protestant is a theme that reaches into so many types of literature. It's a powerful topic, I guess. Interesting, no?
Oh, the nonChristian = evil concept is much more obvious in The Horse and His Boy than it is in this series. The only reason I forgive The Horse and His Boy is because it was written in a different time. This series is really quite good, and the nonChristian = evil concept is difficult to avoid in Christian epic fantasy because good vs. evil is what epic fantasy is about. I'm eager for the next book in this series. 🙂