Book review: The Heart of Stone – Ben Galley

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The Grim Reader has taken a break from horror to check out ‘The Heart of Stone’, the new novel soon be released by Ben Galley.

Firstly, the artwork for ‘The Heart of Stone’ is quite superb. If I saw this book on the shelf then I’d be straight over there to pick it up and check out the synopsis. The story tells of a golem called Task. A war-machine made from stone and built out of old magic. Task is the last wind-cut golem, one that is passed around from master-to-master, doing their deed until said master is deceased, another opportunity presents itself, or he is sold as some sort of weapon. Task is a fantastic character. Although made from stone, the golem experiences many human feelings that develop as the story progresses. Friendships are forged, people are betrayed and heads are crushed between the fingers of this engaging stone giant.

It is good to see a Grimdark/fantasy book that is a stand-alone novel. there are too many other great books out there for me read for me to wait at least 12 months for the next instalment, by which time I have read so much in-between that I have forgotten much of what happened during the first book of the trilogy, so kudos to Galley.

‘The Heart of Stone’ is set during a fierce war. The Hartlund is tearing itself apart and Galley leaves it up to the reader to decide which side they are on. ‘The Heart of Stone’ gets off to a slightly sluggish start, and this is my only criticism. I really felt as though it wasn’t until 25% into the book that I was fully emerged in Galley’s world and his characters. Whilst Task is quite obviously the star of the show, the books supporting cast are sometimes as impressive. Dragon-slayer *rolls eyes* ,Alabast, provides some welcome humour to things and the young girl, Lesky proves to be both endearing and strong. Perhaps the most interesting character is Ellia Frayne. Frayne plays both sides in a war she is determined to win all by herself and is one of the more unlikable yet intriguing people we follow.

Perhaps one would assume that ‘Heart of Stone’ is to be full of over-the-top battles, dripping with blood and severed limbs. Whilst there are a few of those, these scenes play the supporting role to what is essentially a character-driven, coming-of-age story. Galley’s writing is easy to read, a little simile heavy early on, but generally very good. There is very little d****n talk (thankfully!) and the pace, once over the initial first quarter of the book is much, much better with the end providing a satisfying and emotional conclusion. Overall, ‘Heart of Stone’ is a good length book, one that doesn’t outstay its welcome and the characters are excellent, this is where the book truly shines. Fantasy fans will more than enjoy this emotionally driven tale of the stone giant with a human heart.

4/5 stars

Pick up a copy from here.

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