I’m honored to be a part of the #Ultimateblogtour hosted by TheWriteReads starring books by Ben Galley. I chose Heart of Stone because the idea of a Golem as the protagonist is really intriguing. But now that I’ve tried Ben Galley’s writing, I’m now interested to read all his works. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to try his works. In fact, I already bought a kindle copy of The Written and I’ll add it on my July TBR.
About the Book:
TITLE: The Heart of Stone
BY: Ben Galley
GENRE: Fantasy, Magic
PUBLICATION: March 30th 2017 by 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.
This book is funny in a way that through its nonhuman protagonist, it showed me so much about human psyche more than any human protagonist I’ve ever read about. It also managed to present and evoked questions about human strife, again, by using a stone with a heart.
This book did something to me that only few books have accomplished to do in at least the past couple of years. It’s just that lately, it feels like most of the books I’ve read are simply ‘just another book I’ve read.’ Though most of them I enjoyed reading, they didn’t stay with me. But this book will. I know for a fact that this book will stay with me for a long, long time and all because of its nonhuman protagonist.
Task is a 421-year old ‘windcut’ golem, a stone war machine who have served numerous masters in his life by fighting their wars. But he’s more than that. Unlike any other golem, he seemed to feel and he feels deeply but bound to his masters by the magic that created him, he couldn’t act out of his own feeling. This all changed when he was purchased by the royalists who call themselves the ‘Truehard’ to aid them in a civil war going on in Hartlund against the ‘The Last Fading’. In Truehard’s camp, he met Lesky, a stable girl who befriended him and treat him like a human and meeting her might be the best thing that ever happened to Task, because Lesky caused a changed in him, a change that ultimately caused change in the Realm too.
To be honest, I only want to talk about Task. I have plenty of things to say about him and what his character did to me but I know I should also talk about the plot, world, overall writing and other characters. So let me do that first.
The plot is great. I think The Heart of Stone is really well-crafted and set in a fictional world that is so vivid in my mind, thanks to the amazing writing style of the author. Didn’t even think I can tackle everything in just two sentences. Hehe. I promise to talk more about the technical aspects later. Now, it must be extremely obvious how I want to talk about Task and just Task.
Let me start by saying that I don’t see Task as someone “nonhuman with emotions he shouldn’t have” I see him as “nonhuman with QUESTIONS he shouldn’t ask”. After finishing the book, the thing that really stuck with me is the first word Task uttered – Why? It was a question out of curiosity and I think Task have been asking questions from the moment he came to life and the answers he got to those questions are what evoked the emotions in him. His maker called it imperfection, a blemish but it became Task’s strength in the end. “Questions” is why I think this book is simply brilliant. Through a curiosity of a golem, the book was able to present not only a perfect picture of a war but also right questions that should accompany strife, in this case, human strife. The way Task sees and interpret the human psyche influenced me deeply. It’s amazing.
That’s why I said this book will stay with me for a very long time, because it made me feel, truly feel, and made me ask questions I didn’t even want to ask but I know I should.
Out of this book, I can just get the message “even the hardest stone can have a heart” or something like that but truly Task’s emotions, his heart, isn’t really what stayed with me or touched me to the core. It was his curiosity. The way he would look at people and analyze their actions and then he would conclude something not in favor with the humans. He sees humans as if they’re the worst creature living and yet in so many ways he acts like one, but thankfully not in a bad way. And that showed me another underlying theme that I’m not really sure whether it’s one of the author’s intentions, but it’s what I saw. How funny it is that like Task, we look at others and be quick to judge without looking at ourselves first. I’m not trying to give Task a bad image because like I said he acts like human but not in a bad way. I just thought that I should mention that Task have been studying people for centuries without realizing that he’s becoming human. There’s a big lesson there.
Now, as promised, let’s get on with the technical aspects of the book. One of its strengths is the author’s writing style. Ben Galley did a great job at making every part of the book alive in my mind and he did that artistically. Reading all the descriptions, it’s obvious the author has such artistic way with words. There were so many characters mentioned but I didn’t find it hard to know who’s who because every time a new character is introduced, s/he is described to me in a way I won’t forget. And it’s almost ridiculous that I wanted to sketch every place Task has gone to and it’s funny because I don’t even sketch. Hehe. Maybe because the author didn’t forget to include those little details that make the fictional world even more realistic. Also, nice way of introducing Task’s past without info-dumping.
So far, I’ve said nothing but good things about this book and it’s time to acknowledge that The Heart of Stone is not without its minor flaws. I found the pacing a little slower than I like but that wouldn’t have bothered me much if the climax and the ending are grander. It just felt like I’ve waited and waited for something big, and though the climax was fine enough, I wanted more. It would’ve benefited some of the characters too, especially Ellia. I saw Ellia for what she is right from the beginning but I wanted more explanation, because deep inside me, I want to understand her. I didn’t want her to be just the ‘evil guy’ in the story. She should be this complex character with layers and layers I want to discover but at the end she’s kind of shown as just one-sided character.
Then there’s Alabast, the Knight of Dawn. I wasn’t expecting to like him that much but when he met Task and it’s so apparent how similar but at the same time different they are, Alabast’s character became more interesting. And he’s really hilarious. I would love to see a book about him. I really do. The author mentioned that he’s not done yet with this fictional world and might write books starring Task or Lesky. I’m sorry but no matter how much I love Task, I’ll find it hard to read about him knowing what his future would be. Now, I’m not complaining about the ending because I know I’d do the same if I wrote this book. It’s the perfect ending. But I won’t say no to books about Lesky or Alabast.
Anyway overall, I love this book. The Heart of Stone, like I said will stay with me. I’m really happy I’m a part of this tour and though my review didn’t come out as eloquent as I wanted it to be, I’m sorry, I’m a mess after reading this book. I love it THAT much.
Rating: 4 blissful pages with lilies
About the Author:
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.
So guys, what do you think of this book? Have you read it or planning to? Let’s chat.