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What did you like best about this story?
Despite the battle scenes, and there are several, there is a strong emotional core to this book. As a being whose sole purpose has been to be used as a weapon of war, Task has seen the worst humanity, or the ‘skin-bags’ as he calls them, has to offer. He has become disillusioned with the entire race but is forever bound to them by the magic that gives him life. As a thinking individual, he fully understands the consequences of his actions and the conflict between what he wants to believe and his lack of free will to resist orders drives a significant chunk of the book. It’s very well written and draws the reader into empathising with Task.
Which scene was your favorite?
There are several scenes showing that the author has invested enough time into the world-building that it could definitely be explored again, even though this is a stand-alone novel.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Not a moment as such, but the relationship between Task and Lesky is very well done.
Any additional comments?
The narration is excellent, particularly the voice used for the golem.
First off, I’d like to say that if you’re an audiobook fan then this is one you should own. The performance of Adam Stubbs is nothing short of incredible – his Golem voice quite literally made my jaw drop, and he just does a stellar job from top to bottom.
The Heart of Stone is a multi-PoV military fantasy with a beating heart. A civil war is raging between the Truehards and the Fading – the Truehards are loyal to the king and believe that the Fading attempted a coup after the death of the previous king. The king’s heir, however, was a small boy at the time of the previous king’s death, and the Fading feel that the boy king’s advisers don’t have the best interests of the realm at heart. Both positions are understandable, and one of the many nice touches of the novel is that there are characters who have a lot in common on both sides. There’s a definite feeling that these people could be friends if their situation hadn’t pitted them against one another.
Character development is a big strength of the novel, and that’s something that always makes me happy. Task’s thought processes are alien and fascinating, but he’s imbued with such an interesting sense of morality and humanity that he’s relatable even when he’s mulling over his resentment of humans (to the point that he calls us ‘skinbags’ as a mark of his disgust). All of the main circle of characters are well developed and their motivations are logical (although sometimes shrouded in mystery for the sake of the plot). Lesky in particular is a child character who manages to be precocious and wise without being irritating, which is an achievement in itself. Add to that a fallen knight – Alabast has a drinking problem, a womanizing problem, a debt problem and a yellow belly. Despite this he’s a charming rogue of a character and his growth throughout the novel really won me over.
The magic system of the Golems and the abilities of humans is pretty well explored and interesting, and I don’t want to get into it too deeply here since it’s integral to the plot. The setting is functional and the cultures are developed enough that it feels like an authentic world and not just a backdrop to the story. The dialogue between characters is one way in which the novel really shines, in fact probably my favorite scene in the whole novel is just a simple card game being played between a bunch of the characters. Their interactions and chemistry were so spot-on that they began to feel less like characters in a book and more like friends. I can’t ask for more than that.
The conclusion is excellent and wraps up tidily without loose threads – it’s a very satisfying, bittersweet ending that had me close to tears a couple of times. I know this is one I’ll be happy to revisit over the years. If you’re looking for a standalone novel that delivers, look no further.
I listened to The Heart of Stone as an audiobook. The narrator, Adam Stubbs, does an absolutely amazing job, and the voices fit the characters very well. I enjoyed every moment I spent listening to it.
The book follows our main character, Task, a wind-cut (stone) golem and one of the last of his kind. The magic that built him binds him to do his master’s bidding, whether he likes it or not. Task is a machine built for war. For 400 years he’s moved from one war to another, being made into the perfect war machine.
A civil war in Hartlund is fought by the Truehards and The Fading. For nine long years the armies have fought for the rights to Hartlund, and there is still no end in sight, until the Truehards conscript a golem to join them. Old magic joins the war, and Task wishes for a way to end all the suffering and violence.
Ben Galley does a fantastic job of building his world. He gives enough information that you know and understand what’s going on, but never so much that you’re overwhelmed by all the detail being thrown at you. In my opinion he’s hits the sweet spot and provides just the right amount of information for the story.
There is a very large supporting cast throughout the book, and several different POVs are shown. While Task is the main character and the motivating factor behind most of the events, we also get to see the views of General Huff (Task’s new master), the opposing general, a knight conscripted to kill Task, a stable girl, and a very complex spy/adviser.
Once again, Ben Galley hits the nail on the head with his character development. Task is very well developed over the course of the book, and he is given several flashbacks to show his growth from his earlier years. The other characters motivations and reasons are also fleshed out, and it gives a very interesting view into both sides of the war, as well as the difference between the upper and lower classes of soldiers.
All in all the characters in the book are fantastic and well developed. Whilst there are several unlikeable characters — not entirely unexpected in a war — I was still very happy to read and learn more about them.
Generally, the book is fast paced and action packed — not unexpected in a military fantasy — which makes you want to never put it down. I feel like this book would make an excellent binge read; however I find that somewhat difficult in audio format, so it ended up taking me a while. The book does not necessarily jump from battle to battle, but the war camps are still rife with action and character conflicts which rapidly draw you in.
One of the great things about the way the story unfolds is that you get to see both sides of the war, particularly in the aftermath of battles. Where one side wins, another struggles to overcome its losses. As a military fantasy book, I really love that it shows us both sides and how they each react to each other and try to implement countermeasures. I also really liked seeing the POVs of both the army generals and the lower class soldiers, and the disparity of thoughts between them.
This book was fantastic, and I would happily keep on raving about how good it is. It drew me in from chapter one, and didn’t let up at any point. Task is one of the more fascinating MCs that I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently, and I enjoyed every minute I spent following his adventures. Overall, The Heart of Stone is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it.
This book is best for people who like:
* Military fantasy
* Character focus
* Multi POV
* Seeing both sides of a war
* Complex characters
* Flintlock fantasy
* Non human POVs
The Heart of Stone is an absolute delight of a book. You ought to read it, or stick it in your ears. Either way, it won’t disappoint you.
Last year I chose to read 50/50 between traditionally published and self-pub/indie books. THoS is yet another excellent example of all that is good in the self-pub/indie slice of the market.
I enjoyed the read so much that I recently burned an audible credit giving my earholes a treat too. Adam Stubbs is a fantastic narrator and really nails this one.
The story is a really compelling one - I mean, the principle POV character is a feckin golem! The first experience I had if a golem was an evil 8 ft tale sh!t demon from the movie Dogma. I’m glad Galley was able to polish that turd into a diamond and create Task!
Task is a superb character. Galley takes the non-human protagonist and gives you the feels big time. Task is layered up beautifully, and his relationships with Lesky and the Truehard soldiers, and the moments they share, are my favourite parts of the book.
The magic imbued into the wind cut golems is fascinating and I’d like to see more come of that, perhaps in future works.
Overall, the world and landscape of civil war feels kind of Half a King/The Heroes (J.Abercrombie) to me, which is a massive positive, but throw into that as original a protagonist as Task (awesomely voiced by Stubbs in the audio version), and you have a really textured, exciting and surprisingly touching book.