The Heart of Stone
by Ben Galley

The Blurb

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 received an E-ARC copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First things First. I had an ARC so I can’t really say anything about the errors there are some but almost all in the last quarter of the book and I am sure they will get fixed before publication. The cover was done by The wonderfully talented Shawn King. It is so simple yet compelling I really like the style of it. I did Goblinize® the cover but I feel that I need to apologize for it.

I am sorry Shawn and Ben.

hartg

Now to the Fun Stuff!

OK this is set in a pretty Grimdark world but almost all of the story takes place in one country named Hartlund.

map2

Now that you know where the story happens let me tell you a bit about who it happens to.  The main Character is a 400 year old Stone Golem. His name is Task and his “task” is to kill people. He is bound by the magic that made him to serve his master. So for 400 years he has been moved around and sold from one master to the next. And since he is thought of as a war machine that means he was sent from one war to the next.
Like I said before the world is a pretty Grimdark place with a lot of wars. Since Task was created all of the wizards that made golems have died and Task is the last of the Windcut stone Golems. When he arrives in Hartlund he is told that he is needed to turn the tide of a civil war that has been going on for 9 years already and his side is losing. His new master is a pompous ass hat just like all of his others and orders him to the stable until they march. That is where he meets Lesky a little girl that works the stable and she becomes his first friend in a very long time. That’s all I am going to say as far as plot goes.
This is the first book by Ben that I have read and I ended up really liking  his style of world building, but was a bit nervous at first. For example there are large lizard type things that are used like horses and he doesn’t sit and describe what they look like. They are slowly described throughout the book through things like someone touching their scales or saying how they moved. There are a few things like that and while I usually don’t like that type of world building he did it really well.
I am going to be honest and say there is a lot of violence in Heart of Stone, but it is there for a reason. Its not dismemberment for the sake of upping the gore factor.  Even with all of the gore and the battles I was amazed at my reaction to some of the later parts of the book. Just like with the descriptions of the lizard things happening slowly, my emotional attachment to some of the characters happened almost unnoticed by me, however  it was a deep attachment.. It wasn’t until one part when  something happened to someone when I felt a real tear that I knew I cared about these imaginary people. When I say things like “brought a tear to my eye” in reviews it usually means that I felt kind of choked up, but I really had a tear or two on my cheeks while reading this and that has not happened to me in a long time.

 

Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed Ben’s style of writing. It was almost sneaky the way he made me care about the characters.  This is a standalone book not a series which is kind of nice. It has been a while since I read one of those, and even longer since I read one anywhere near good as this book.  This is the first novel I have read by Ben Galley but it most certainly will not be the last. Heart of Stone is one action packed, bloody, emotional ride and I loved it. It receives 5 out of 5 Little Goblins© from me

The Heart of Stone

Mar 30, 2017

by Ben Galley

Available for Pre-order on Amazon. It will be released on March 30, 2017.