Hello, everyone! I’m incredibly excited to be part of the blog tour for The Heart of Stone by Ben Galley, hosted by Dave at TheWriteReads. It’s a privilege to be one of the many bloggers and reviewers diving into Ben’s books and giving you our take on his work all this week. This blog tour has been a collaborative effort with so many wonderful people in the writing world coming together to support one other, and is a real testament to the spirit of that community. I’m thrilled to review The Heart of Stone alongside many other great bloggers (below), and there are even more bookies doing parallel reviews of Ben’s other books. Check out TheWriteReads’ twitter for a stream of posts across all these books the remainder of this week. We’re nearing the end of the journey but there are still plenty of posts that will be coming in these last few days, so be sure to check out some of the other awesome collaborator’s thoughts.
Now let’s get into The Heart of Stone!
Many thanks to the author, Ben Galley, and blog tour host, Dave of TheWriteReads, for providing a digital ARC of this book for an honest review.
Synopsis (via bengalley.com)
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.Every fighter has a last fight. Even one made of stone.
I’ve been getting into more and more of the fantasy genre recently, so I was excited to read one of Ben Galley’s books! After some thought, I chose The Heart of Stone for a couple reasons. Not only is the cover is gorgeous, but the title itself is intriguing and spoke to me of some unexpected emotional depth which I tend to enjoy. Reading the synopsis and other rave reviews sealed the deal, and I’m incredibly happy with my choice! The Heart of Stone totally surpassed my expectations. Filled with beautiful world building and compelling characters, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Starting with the characters, we are introduced to a wind-cut stone golem known only as “Task.” He is one of the many various types of golems that can be formed by skillful magic, but remains the last wind-cut golem when the story begins. Through flashbacks and dialog we learn of golems crafted through other materials such as bone or wood, but the vast majority have perished. Throughout history golems have been used by mankind (or “skinbags,” as Task calls them) to wage war against one another, and although they are formidable creatures they are not indestructible.
From the start we get to know Task gradually, building curiosity and a slow-burning attachment. He has what I’d lovingly call a “teddybear” nature. Although he first comes off as cold and intimidating on the outside, he is fiercely loyal and moral. Task becomes increasingly human throughout the story in spirit, bringing to mind lessons in finding the humanity in everyone. Years of arduous battles have roughened him, but unexpected kindness and friendships belay his softer nature. One of the catalysts for this gradual opening of the heart is a spunky young stablehand named Lesky. Fearless and bold but kind, Lesky brings a unique destabilizing element to the story, and builds a place in your heart all her own. Rich in depth, both characters develop and drive the story forward in a way that keep you reading long into the night. They are the type of characters that linger with you long after the story ends.
I’d also mentioned the world building earlier, which I’d like to briefly circle back to. One of the tells for a great story is how believable the setting is. With fantasy, sometimes I find the abundance of unique names and constant moving around makes it difficult to orient yourself in the character’s world. I had no such issue with this book, and in fact found myself able to easily visualize and nest myself into Task or Lesky’s mind with no effort. The craft put into building the context around the world was fantastic, and reveals Ben Galley’s skill and artistry.
Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to pick up their next great fantasy read!
About Ben Galley
Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut The Written in 2010, Ben has released a range of award-winning fantasy novels, including the weird western Bloodrush and the epic standalone The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the brand new Chasing Graves Trilogy.
Ben’s site with more info and contact links can be found at bengalley.com
More of Ben’s Published Works
Mentioned in Ben’s bio, he has a number of other fantasy books aside from The Heart of Stone to check out below.