25 June 2019

Review || Heart of Stone by Ben Galley



Merciless. Murderer. Monster. He has been called many names in his time.

Built for war and nothing else, he has witnessed every shade of violence humans know, and he has wrought his own masterpieces with their colours. He cared once, perhaps, but far too long ago. He is bound to his task, dead to the chaos he wreaks for his masters.

Now, he has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund tears itself in two over coin and crown. This time he will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory.

Beneath it all he longs for change. For something to surprise him. For an end to this cycle of warfare.

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Action-packed and emotionally-charged, The Heart of Stone is a dark fantasy novel that explores the aspects of human nature. Perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson, Mark Lawrence, and Joe Abercrombie.


 



Task is a 400-year-old Windcut Stone Golem, created with no other thought than to be an instrument of war. He is shackled by the magic that produced him to obey his master and their commands, whoever or whatever they may be. Passed from master to master, he is bound to obey, but what sets him apart is his own mind. He has thoughts, emotions and a conscious but in spite of those things, he obeys. Sent to serve yet another master in another war while being self-aware is yet another kind of prison. 

Heart of Stone is very much a military fantasy told by many POVs. Much of the book is spent on the battle between the Fading and the Truehards, loyal to the king. With both sides believing that they are righteous, a civil war rages and one that Task is compelled to fight. When he meets Lesky, who surprisingly is unafraid and meets Task only with curiosity, along with others in his journey, he finds himself in an unusual place. At the "heart" of this war story is a remarkable friendship between this spunky little girl and a stone golem. 

I struggle with fantasy ofttimes. It gets long and ponderous and is often frequently ladened with complex world-building and descriptive passages that ramble on. I didn't find Ben Galley's Heart of Stone to be that way at all. While it was a slow start of a read, I eventually found myself enveloped by this world and these characters, mostly due to the author's character building and development. The pacing was probably my biggest gripe, as the action scenes were explosive but sandwiched between weighty, more introspective displays. Overall, Heart of Stone was a surprisingly impassioned read and one I recommend to dark fantasy fans.




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