The Hero's Lot by Patrick W. Carr picks up where the last book leaves off: our hero, Errol, is in Erinon, facing his future as well as the Judica (the ruling ecclesiastical body), who is accusing him of consorting with spirits. Wrongly convicted, Errol is placed under a compulsion to track the fallen, evil former church leader, Sarin Valon, into the land of Merakh, and kill him. This is not a trek that can be made lightly, so accompanying Errol on his quest are two men whose presence will prove to be very helpful: Elar Indomiel and Naaman Ru. Errol's friends Martin and Luis do not join him; they instead travel back to Callowford to try to discover just who Errol really is and why he is so important to the kingdom. Meanwhile, did I happen to mention that Errol's feelings for Princess Adora are growing and that it seems those feelings are being returned?
There is a lot going on in The Hero's Lot, with the chapters moving back and forth among Errol and his traveling companions and Martin and his adventures. I must admit to a certain amount of frustration with the back and forth, but only because I would find myself involved in what Errol and Co. were doing and then bam! I'm back with Martin, and vice versa. That's a minor complaint really, though; there's plenty of storyline to go around, and everything advances the plot. We find out some key secrets along the way, and discover a few more mysteries as well. Carr's writing is such that I felt as out of breath as his characters as I followed them through fights and escapes; I particularly enjoyed the latter one third of the book when things were most dire and seemingly hopeless, even if I wanted to throttle Errol at times for getting lost inside himself. Excellent writing there.
I do have a suggestion for the next book (besides hurry up and publish it!): Please, please supply 1) a map (or two or three), 2) a list of characters with relevant relationships, and 3) a list of church/religious offices (and whom is currently occupying what would be even better!). I did spent a good deal of the first few chapters trying to refresh my memory of who is whom and what the church does/expects. My mind's eye could provide a fairly accurate map based on Carr's precise details but a visual would be extremely well-received. If I were reading this series back to back, I doubt I'd need such reminders, but throw in several other books between readings and my mind needed a refresher.
This is epic fantasy, people; those who love a good tale with lots of detail and ever-expanding mystery will definitely find lots of enjoy and love, as I have. Carr's got a true gift of engaging the reader, and I'm looking forward to seeing how all this wraps up. Highly recommended!