The premise of the book was a young man known for drunkenness, too thin, no good with a sword, pressed into service for the Church and the Kingdom.
I love Tolkien and Lewis and I have been nourished by their stories. I eagerly requested this book, for it is a joy to find a new author who writes long, rich fantasy. I took out my highlighter and began marking passages.
The discussion between Martin and Luis shows us a glimpse into the main character.
"He sleeps," Martin said. "If I'd had to cross the gorge with someone shooting arrows at me, I'd sleep for a month."
Luis snorted "Yes, as would I, but we're no longer young. Errol lies at the dawn of his prime."
"Prime? The boy hasn't had much chance at a prime. Look at him. He's a handbreath shorter than Liam and thin as a wafer. A young man his age should not be so lean."
I found myself hoping for redemption for Errol. The scene when Martin and Luis begin helping Errol to heal by ministering tiny morsels of bread and sips of communion wine throughout the long night was a scene of compassion.
I think it is safe to say redemption was the focus of this story. : )
There is a scene almost at the end, when Martin presents the account of Errol's courage- and says "I knew not the depth of courage that resided in Errol Stone. Stripped by fate of family, name and dignity, he triumphed still. Can any deny God's favor? I am humbled by his perseverance and fortitude."
Errol's response to this praise is one of humility, and Martin says "Some men are more easily broken by kindness than censure, the kingdom has need of such men." This is a good scene. : )
And with sequels coming, there will be time to explore Errol's place in the Kingdom.
I thought I wouldn't be able to finish this book however.
I just read the death scene of Errol's mentor and can't continue. I just can't do it. I just read three "murder mysteries" by Randy Alcorn, and I was less frightened by those books than that scene.
There are a lot of questions raised in this book, questions that make for a long discussion.
What do the 'lots' mean? In the OT, lots were cast to determine certain things and it was understood that God directed the lots.
Is God directing the lots in this book?
Is the "reader" gifted by God with the ability to make lots, to serve God?
Or is this divination?
Why was Martin nearly nude in the glen and making jokes about it? Was that Martin's theology of clothing- little needed?
What about the themes of possession? Who are the healers talking to? Due to these themes, this book is one to be discussed. Really, that is the point of Christian reading: To enjoy a story *and* to think for the glory of God.
Is the "church" the church, or a corrupt false church? What about its servants?
Women guards in the caravan- co-ed warfare? Or plain temptation for men? What will Errol do when he is offered a way to advance as a caravan guard- by fighting two women? Does sparring a woman teach a man to protect one?
I think there is more freedom for adventure in a group of all men. The women and men together cause too much distraction from the mission. Having a merchant's daughter in the caravan made sense, I wish she wasn't a guard though. I would give the women a different role in the adventure. A band of brothers such as in Fellowship of the Ring gives us a good chance to appreciate something almost lost these days- good, manly friendships.
The seduction of Errol by Rohka, the merchants daughter, was troubling, as it was supposed to be. She was using Errol, and her father was using her. What, exactly, does "I meant every kiss- but you're not the one for me," mean? Did she even know?
Errol will need to learn one of the first lessons of good men- guard your heart and your eyes. Proverbs seven women lurk. Like the peasants daughter who essentially said she would like to see our hero unclothed. That, Errol, is not flattery, it is sin.
He will need to learn to run from sin like Joseph did when Potiphar's wife went after him, and to be repulsed by this request, not intrigued.
Errol has lessons to learn, and he is by no means done. The Kingdom needs Good (Redeemed) Men, and I think Errol will be one of those men.
I received this book from Bethany House for a review.