Well now. This book review is going to be a fond one for me. For the first time, I got contacted by another author directly! And quite a big author too. Ben Galley you see messaged me a few weeks back and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the debut in his new series The Heart of Stone, and very kindly offered me a paperback copy for me to read and review. Of course, I accepted! It is wonderful to engage with fellow authors. It has been a while coming, but I finished the novel a few days ago, and at last, I can sit down and write this review.
So, what can I say about The Heart of Stone? Several things, you know.
- Don’t fuck with stone golems.
- Don’t fuck with stone golems.
- Don’t fuck with stone golems!
Do we have that clear? Excellent. All joking aside, The Heart of Stone is a riveting read that kept me entertained all the way through.
Being a magically enthused golem isn’t an easy life, especially when you’re ordered to rip heads from human bodies. Now, that may just be my idea of a good Saturday night, but I digress. Must be hard being a golem. Sitting there, crushing some skulls. Dreaming of his past. I really got into his head.
Raised up to be a machine of war, the last stone golem Task is recruited by a rather large dickwaffle commander called Huff to end the brutal civil war that has brewed for years. Reading a novel largely from a non-human point of view is very rare in fantasy (Unless it’s elves or dwarves. Which turn out to be virtually the same as humans. Go figure). This wasn’t, and I really enjoyed delving deep into Task’s psyche. Centuries-old with a heart beyond his myth, Task despairs for humankind and does what he is commanded to do, but he has a heart too. And what does he get used for?
Fucking up soldiers. The scenes of violence are thick and heavy in the book, mostly large skirmishes while Huff waves his dick around to impress his father. Major daddy issues here, people! While I found some of the battle scenes repetitive, they are well written and paint a bleak picture of the true horror of civil war. In a country at war with itself, you fight blood vs blood, family vs family. It is gut-wrenching. Just look at Syria. Some may say there are too much worldbuilding and not enough action, but I disagree. There’s certainly enough to keep you entertained throughout, and while the pacing isn’t what you would call fast, I don’t think it’s too slow either. It’s not Stormlight Archive level of slow!
You have all the little scenes of Task slowly growing for the troops, the filth of war, lots of political intrigue in Baroness Fayne (who I would probably marry), and some brilliant character development.
Let’s move onto characters. Lesky, Alabest Flint, Ellia and Task steal the show on countless occasions. Lesky I feel was a bit too smart and snappy for a child, but her young nature and her bond with Task is a growing part of the book. I legit felt for her suffering on the battlefield and loved it whenever Task defended her. I usually hate spunky teen characters on principle, let alone children, but Lesky was done just well enough to keep me liking her character. Alabest is a wonderful disgraced knight trying to get out of the hellhole, and every one of his scenes had me cheering for him and laughing. Fayne is the wonderful double agent, completely bonkers at times and her nature kept me guessing all the way through.
I just couldn’t stop smiling throughout. The prose is comfortable to read but not too simple, the worldbuilding is solid and it has some great character interactions. I did feel the replacement of cursing with “deff” was highly annoying, however. Just say “fuck!” It will not hurt! It’s not quite as bad as Stormlight Archive’s constant references to Stormfather as an attempted swear word though, so I do forgive it.
Ben Galley really is a good author, and I cannot wait to read more of his books. In fact, I’m going to have another look at his work soon! Hope you enjoyed the review, and I will return soon!