The Staff and the Sword Series by Patrick W. Carr, Series Review (UPDATED)

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Author’s Note: We were provided with free copies of the novels in this series in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Staff and the Sword Series

The Staff and the Sword is a powerfully written book series that, at the time of it’s release, shook the fantasy genre at it’s core. In this series, Patrick Carr deviated from the typical pitfalls and tropes used in many fantasy novels by crafting relatable, deep characters and an engaging storyline. While each novel in the series contains both strengths and weaknesses, the series rounds out with a strong score, and would make a great Christian animated series. Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses in each novel.

A Cast of Stones (4 out of 4 points)

The opening novel of the series, A Cast of Stones, introduces the reader to a broken young man named Errol Stone who lives in the poor village of Callowford. Errol hides from past trauma by getting drunk as often as possible. He has little care for those around him, and has given himself entirely over to his addiction. One day an important messenger arrives in Callowford with a package that needs to be delivered to a nearby churchman. Errol realizes that he is out of money with which to buy ale, so he volunteers to make the harrowing journey. Little does Errol know that this decision will greatly alter his future. Unlike the other novels in this series, this one contains no errors.

Major strengths of this novel include the engaging and consistent storyline, the well-structured plot, and the character depth. Additionally, Errol is one of the best developed protagonists I have seen in some time. His struggles and learning experiences are perfectly crafted and align very well with his character’s purpose. It would take some time to cover all the positives in this novel, so perhaps the best way to sum it up is by saying the following. Fantasy authors who are looking to craft a story that real people can relate to should use A Cast of Stones as an all-purpose reference guide. For these reasons and more, the first book in this series earns a perfect overall score.

The Hero’s Lot (3.5 out of 4 points)

The second novel in the series, The Hero’s Lot, contains similar strengths, but has some flaws. Major strengths of this novel include it’s realistic portrayal of legalistic church corruption and it’s theme of living under The Holy Spirit’s direction. Major weaknesses of the novel include some choppy chapter transitions and abrupt character introductions. This being said, it would have been helpful to add an additional book in-between this and the final novel. Doing this would have allowed Carr the creative space he needed to flesh out some key characters’ backstories (and the content in The Book) and to better establish how the interactions between different cultures in Illustra influence the storyline. If the entire additional book was set in Merachi, for instance, then a lot of plot holes could be filled in. For the strengths and errors listed, The Hero’s Lot stops just short of a perfect score.

A Draw of Kings (2 out of 4 points)

The final book in The Staff and the Sword series – A Draw of Kings – is the weakest novel, but still has plenty of strong content to work with. Major strengths of the novel include the lessons learned by the main characters and the original ending that isn’t overly predictable. Major weaknesses include Liam’s unfinished character arc (his character desperately needed some realistic flaws, no one is perfect), the overwhelming number of sub-plots, and the plot gaps (i.e. the disappearing barrier) that could have been remedied by adding another novel to the overall count. Thus, this novel earns an average score for not reaching it’s full potential.

Conclusion

Finally, Carr earns a half an x factor point for originality for crafting an excellent Christian fantasy series, and for coloring outside the lines with his incredible protagonist. Additionally, the BOR team believes this book series would make an excellent multi-season Christian animated series made for a teenage audience. Maybe Angel Studios will pick up this project next..;)

Wish List Series Rating: 10 out of 12 points

2018 Box Office Revolution Book Awards

Every year, many Christian books are released, and writers of the same show off their creative talents. Across the many genres, novels are judged based on plot continuity and storytelling skills, character development, and whether or not a novel correctly addresses an issue that relates to current issues in American Christian culture. These novels are separated into roughly three groups of authors and their respective works of art: the exceptional, the potentially great, and those chosen by the votes of our readers. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize the entertainment creators who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

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Staff Choice Book of the Year: The Wounded Shadow by Patrick W. Carr (#3 of The Darkwater Saga)

Runners-Up: Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin, Looking Into You By Chris Fabry, Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse, Judah’s Wife by Angela E. Hunt

Honorable Mentions: Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette, Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

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Reader’s Choice Book of the Year: The Wounded Shadow by Patrick Carr

Runners-Up: Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin, Looking Into You by Chris Fabry, Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Honorable Mentions: The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers, Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews


Staff Choice Author of the Year: Patrick W. Carr

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Lynn Austin
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Chris Fabry
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Morgan L. Busse
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Mesu Andrews

Runners-Up: Lynn Austin, Chris Fabry, Morgan L. Busse, Mesu Andrews

Francine Rivers
Connilyn Cossette

Honorable Mentions: Francine Rivers, Connilyn Cossette



The Darkwater Saga by Patrick W. Carr

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Author’s Note: We were provided with free copies of these novels in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (4 points)

Patrick Carr has done it again in this new, brilliantly crafted series titled the Darkwater Saga. Carr took the excellent character development and exceptional storyline quality from his previous series and applied it to a more everyday story about a man who is called by his Creator to a purpose he would not have chosen. In the first novel, as always, Carr lays the groundwork for what eventually becomes an invigorating story that holds the attention on every page. For the purpose of this review, I will only include content from the first novel, so as to conceal the secrets found in the mysterious forests of these novels. In the Shock of Night, Carr introduces the reader to a man named Willet Dura. Willet leads a mostly content life, he has a secure position as the king’s reeve, a prestigious engagement to a woman he loves…and a daily life with just enough action to keep things interesting. His sarcastic attitude towards the lords and ladies of the castle has landed him in more than a few scrapes, however, he seems to enjoy danger. The king has recently elevated him to the title of Lord so that he might marry Gael, his fiance. In the midst of all this, Willet’s seemingly commonplace life is about to be shaken at its very core. On a day like any other, Willet is on kingdom business when he discovers a murder trail. This trail leads him to the fatally wounded body of a former guard, which in turn leads him to the bedside of a dying churchman who was also part of the murder. Willet sees common traits in the two men’s wounds and begins to wonder. He is not left to wonder long, for attackers are in hot pursuit. Just when the attackers are almost upon them, the dying man grabs Willet’s head and screams a word that will change his life forever. Willet soon finds himself in the service of the Vigil, a group of gifted individuals who seek to vanquish the evil in their world. (spoiler) He will find the Vigil to be a hard and somewhat prideful master, and survival…almost impossible. To find out what happens to Willet, his fiance, and everyone else, read the books!:) Carr stands out as a master in the fantasy genre for many reasons. However, this is mostly due to the fact that his raw talent in The Staff and Sword series has matured with time instead of growing stagnant.

Character Development (4 points)

Carr has improved this new series by switching from third person to first with his characters. This switch to first person is a revolutionary concept in the fantasy genre. Through the use of first person, Willet is crafted into a complex, relatable character who the readers can root for and get to know. The secondary characters are also well-crafted. Bolt (Willet’s bodyguard), for example, is a character whose personality takes several positive, yet unexpected turns throughout the series. This makes him one of the best secondary characters in a fantasy novel that I have ever seen. Furthermore, Willet’s love interest is well-developed and breaks all female character molds in the fantasy genre. Therefore, for these and other reasons, Carr earns a perfect score in character development for this series. His fiction truly is character-driven.

Creativity & Originality (2 points)

Once again, Carr earns a point in creativity, and a rarely bestowed full x-factor point in originality for being the best in his genre. The first point is awarded for crafting another fantasy world that is dissimilar to the last, and for sewing up all the details well. The x-factor point is awarded for crafting another story worthy of the big screen that could revolutionize the fantasy genre in film. We have thus far been very impressed with what Carr has to offer and await his next story with great anticipation and delight. Finally, thank you Mr. Carr, for sharing your books with us, and for taking the time to write fiction that truly makes a difference.

Wish List Rating: 10 out of 10 points