As war rages with the dreaded Obsidian King, Mica Graydier and the disgraced Lord Caleb chase the bearer of a deadly secret across the Windfast Empire. When their quarry slips out of their grasp, they travel to the heart of enemy territory, where Mica must pull off the ultimate impersonation. Can Mica complete her mission before the Obsidian King conquers her homeland? Or will the tyrant use the missing secret to destroy everyone she loves? Empire Of Talents 3.
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Traitor at the Stone Court , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about A Traitor at the Stone Court. Lists with This Book. Jul 13, Sylvia Mercedes rated it it was amazing Shelves: I'm offering a giveaway for this awesome series! Come visit my website to enter! And what a thrilling conclusion it was! In this third book, we finally get to see Mica pursuing the job she always believed she wanted since the first pages of book she ventures deep into the Obsidian Empire as a spy.
Not just any spy either! She is right at the center of the tumultuous action in the Stone Court itself, where her smallest, split-second d I'm offering a giveaway for this awesome series! She is right at the center of the tumultuous action in the Stone Court itself, where her smallest, split-second decisions could make or break the course of two empires.
As much as I enjoyed the twists and turns of Mica and Caleb's adventure in the Obsidian Court, my favorite part of this book was getting to finally step into Jessamyn's head. Her point-of-view is threaded throughout the book, tying the story taking place in Obsidian back to Windfast. And it was fantastic! Even as I head-smacked a few times over Jessa's decisions, I really what drove her to make those decisions, and I rooted for her even when she was sometimes on the ragged edge of becoming the villain.
This remained true even though they were separated for most of this book. I loved the balance Jordan Rivet managed as she bounced back and forth between the two characters and how their stories played off each other. The romantic element is strong in this book.
Mica and Caleb's relationship continues to develop in sweet and heartfelt ways. And Jessamyn might finally be getting a bit of unexpected romance of her own? Just the barest beginnings, but. This series was such a delight to discover. I am a huge fan of Jordan Rivet's style and characterization, and what fun to know she's got two other series just waiting for me to dive into! So maybe this wasn't totally a 5 star book, but I so thoroughly enjoyed the series that I don't really care. I was captivated from beginning to end. Mica, Caleb, Jessa, Tiber, Owen, Emir, and the many others, I've enjoyed getting to know them all, and watching them grow and change as their stories progressed.
I love that she created two extremely capable and resilient main female characters. I also love that I actually really liked maybe even loved them. That doesn't happen very often with fem So maybe this wasn't totally a 5 star book, but I so thoroughly enjoyed the series that I don't really care. That doesn't happen very often with female characters for me. And even though this is the last book in the series, maybe one day the author will take us back with a new story.
I would definitely read that. In the meantime, this was a satisfying conclusion to a new favorite, even if I'm a little sad that it's over. May 27, Feldie rated it it was amazing. Will Princess Jessamyn overturn the war? And whom will the Fifth Talents ultimately serve, Obsidian or the Empire? The tension is palpable. Without creating spoilers, I found the twists and developments of various relationships timely and fulfilling. I particularly enjoyed the various dangers and threats of betrayal and how they pan out.
However, it was still within character, unlike my sole bone of contention about the backstory of this trilogy - Obsidian. I met the king and he is underhanded and domineering. The things he has done to his own family and Talents are pretty evil and racist, and I would have despised him more if he had wrought greater havoc to the Empire. He would have been even more detestable if the people across the lands were still suffering because of him - and suffering evidently.
May 18, Stephanie rated it it was amazing.
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At the start I was excited that Mica was actually going to be able to have a mission in Obisidian, just like she had always wished at the start of this series. What I ending up loving more though was how the author was not afraid of studying the nuances to our favorite characters and providing different insights, knocking them down while also building them up.
Mica and Jessamyn prove to be steadfast yet complex characters and being able to delve deep into their mindsets made the their stories co At the start I was excited that Mica was actually going to be able to have a mission in Obisidian, just like she had always wished at the start of this series. Mica and Jessamyn prove to be steadfast yet complex characters and being able to delve deep into their mindsets made the their stories come to life. I loved how the roles of good vs.
We definitely could see the world and how our protagonists grow from inside Jewel Harbor all the way to the Stone Court. It was also great see new and old faces and the development of the various relationships Mica had with these characters. The side characters too proved to come alive with their different personalities and motivations! Plus there were still some romantic as well as comedic moments amidst the backdrop of warfare. Overall this was an excellent conclusion to this series and I can't wait for more from this author p.
As a shameless fangirl I'm hoping for hope that we'll see more from the Empire of Talents, particularly from a certain ship lol. It was that good! Jun 05, Hetal rated it really liked it Shelves: To see more reviews, considering taking a peek at my first in series YA book blog here Mica and Caleb travel to Obsidian to get back the potion that will reveal the secret of making the fifth talents. Exiled by Jessa, they can only forge forward.
An unexpected ally of Mica's from the academy sparks determination in Mica and suspicion in Caleb. While Caleb learns the underground and plight of the slav To see more reviews, considering taking a peek at my first in series YA book blog here Mica and Caleb travel to Obsidian to get back the potion that will reveal the secret of making the fifth talents. While Caleb learns the underground and plight of the slaves, Mica learns what the royal family of Obsidian is truly like Back in Windfast Jessa struggles to heed Mica's advice on using the fifth talents and dangerously toes the line of morality to achieve her goals.
Was it all necessary? I don't know, but I am somewhat dissapointed in her. Though, her actions, more than most, make sense realistically. I just hurt seeing her throw caution to the wind. You will enjoy questioning the motives of every new character introduced time and again. Rivet has splendidly veiled her secrets under polite society and sweet words. I had very few complaints about this book. Also, Jordan Rivet writes in third person and it does drive me a bit crazy. Sometimes it works for books with multiple POVS.
But I dont think that was the case in this series as its all viewed through the eyes of Mica and Jessa only. This style of writing, while not in any way unbearable, does take me out of the story quite a lot. I'm not standing right there with the characters, ya know? Rivet has meticulously made sure that both adults and middle grade kids alike would enjoy this book. Overall this trilogy was a joy to read. Rivet is 2 for 2 on enrapturing me in the world and characters she has created.
I cannot wait till her next series is out!!! Jun 04, Paulo De Sa rated it really liked it Shelves: The story goes on with Mica and Caleb infiltrate themselves in the mist on the enemy lair with the help of another mimic to try to retrieve the formula, but while they are there a revolution occurs and they are in the middle of it. In the meantime the princess starts to use the Five Talent army in order to win the war against their enemies but when her father is murdered she takes a big step by emerging herself in the formula and creates several other Five Talents and is up to Mica to show her that everything is OK and then she destroys the formula Jul 04, Drew Rodriguez rated it it was amazing Shelves: I split time reading and listening to the audiobook version of this story, and commend Adam Stubbs on an excellent narration of the story.
Feb 20, Kareem rated it really liked it. As ever with Ben, the books he produce feel like a quality product — you know as much effort goes into every aspect of the book as the actual writing of it. Sadly I cannot give the book the 5 stars so many other much more qualified and renowned bloggers and reviewers have, for a few reasons, but mainly it is the beginning. But I must stress that that is entirely subjective.
This story is a standalone, as such there is a fair amount of worldbuilding involved the subtleties of worldbuilding have never really lit a fire in my boxers. That said, I know a lot of people who love that side of things. I guess it was just too much too soon for me, as usually with a series these elements can be spread out over a series. Similes were another distraction — though some of them are absolutely fantastic — the volume of them was just a little overwhelming.
Finally, the omniscient narration was at times a little jarring. The head hopping had me confused a time or two but then, that could be my lower lifeform intelligence. In all honesty that is me coming up with criticisms that I hope might help in future. It only happened a few times and it was no biggie to go back a sentence or two to get my head straight.
Right, now that is out of the way I can move on. The rest of the book was deffing brilliant! Characters and characterisation are a big strength here too. There is real pun alert! Relationships between the cast feel real and you soon find yourself urging Task and his supporting characters along. Alabast is a Kareem favourite! And the antagonists were fantastic too. There is one character: Huff, who reminded me of Basil Fawlty, only dialled up to eleven. There is a lot of emotion I wanted to say heart but I only get one pun per review.
So when it comes out, buy it! Feb 19, Trevor Sherman rated it it was amazing Shelves: The main Character is a year old Stone Golem. He is bound by the magic that made him to serve his master. So for 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.
A Traitor at the Stone Court by Jordan Rivet
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.
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. They are slowly described throughout the book through things like someone touching their scales or saying how they moved. 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 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. Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was the timing, or maybe it was just the nature of this book itself, but for some reason The Heart of Stone took me a long time to read. That said, I really enjoyed it. The story is not just about war and fighting, as the description had initially led me to believe.
Amidst the action, we also have a lot of adventure and intrigue, as well as a number of unexpected twists in perspective and m 3. Amidst the action, we also have a lot of adventure and intrigue, as well as a number of unexpected twists in perspective and moments of pure emotion. The story follows Task, a creature known as a Windcut Stone Golem.
Built to be weapon of war by a long-ago creator, he is the last of his kind but also unlike any that came before or after him, for deep within that flinty exterior is a very real heart and soul. However, for as long as he can remember, he has been suppressing that part of him in order to serve his purpose as a killing machine.
For four hundred years, Task has been passed from army to army, bound by an ancient magic to obey the commands of his masters. He has fought in many wars, taken countless lives in battle, and seen enough examples of human avarice to know that this cycle of violence will never end. For a long time, he has believe that it is best to simply keep to himself and do as he is ordered.
But now, Task has been brought out once more to serve a new master in a bitter civil war between the crown and a fractured group of rebel nobles. Fighting on the side of the Royalists, he winds up being under the command of Huff Dartridge, a ruthless general who will go to any length to achieve victory over the enemy Fading. Not to be cowed though, the other side also has a secret weapon, acquiring the services of the Knight of Dawn whose reputation as a dragon slayer is sure to make him a formidable foe against a stone golem.
In spite of himself, he also finds himself growing emotionally attached to some of the men and women he fights with. In particular, he strikes up a friendship with a young stable girl named Lesky, who teaches Task that there may be more to his existence than simply destruction and killing, and for the first time in centuries, Task finds himself pondering his purpose and questioning the nature of the war he is forced to fight. It is especially important in a novel like this, which features a non-human protagonist made of magic and stone.
The people around Task may dismiss him as a mindless beast, but in truth, he possesses far more humanity than even some of the actual human characters in this book. It was a pleasure to get to know him, seeing through his eyes and finding out his deepest thoughts and desires. I also really liked the plot.
In fact, I found these quieter moments to be just as important as the action, if not more so, since so much of this book was about Task discovering himself and learning to be his own master. I had a great time watching the relationships develop between him and the other characters, especially the special bond he has with Lesky, who was one of my favorites. All told, Heart of Stone is a solidly written and fascinating dark fantasy novel, one I would highly recommend to readers who enjoy character driven stories and reading about compelling non-human protagonists.
Despite my quibbles about the pacing, ultimately this is a very engaging, unique, and wonderful book. Ben Galley has a real knack for this, and I look forward to reading more by him in the future. Review also published here Disclaimer: I accepted the request and have not regretted it. Since then I've also ordered a print copy for my shelf off Amazon. The Heart of Stone is already a strong contender for my favorite books in Not just because it is still early in the year, mind you, but because it had an incredible blend of emotion, action, philosophy and compellingly complex characters.
I'm honestly still amazed by ho Review also published here Disclaimer: I'm honestly still amazed by how human a story built around a stone golem could end up being.
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Task, our Golem, is thrown amidst a kingdom's civil war between royalists, the Truehards, and the capitalist factions under the Last Fading. He is beholden to his master, who turns out to be a very petty man with ego problems. He is to follow orders and slay the enemy combatants indiscriminately, constantly biting his tongue and trying not to care. He isn't like other golems, of course. He thinks, he feels, he can even be genuinely funny. He is, as much as you can say it about Golems, a freak of nature.
He is used to the grind of war, the stares of fear, the orders and cruelty of his masters. That doesn't mean he is fine with any of them. He struggles to bend the rules a little bit, and despite his better judgement, ends up befriending a young stable girl at the Truehards' camp. The girl, Lesky, was the anchor of the entire story. She is bright, clever, even wise sometimes. She brings relief to what could otherwise be a pretty dark story. Not that it isn't dark, but Lesky's character brings a degree of hope to it all, and her growing friendship with Task, despite all odds, makes not just the Golem care, but the reader as well.
I loved how her and Task's dynamic gave color to the entire book. It was touching to see them interact, both making me smile and close my eyes in regret during the sadder moments. The novel may be about a long-running civil war, threats of a world war looming, Task's rebellion against the magic binding him, but at the core it is a story about a Golem and his unlikely best friend, and how friendship can change your entire outlook and give you strength. Slayer of the last dragon, Alabast has turned to more..
He's a regular at whorehouses, borrowing money from all the wrong people, an alcoholic, and gets recruited to slay a Golem while down on his luck. He attempts to escape his bonds and wiggle out of his sheer impossible quest. He offers a neat contrast to task, who has mostly resigned himself to silence and grim acceptance of his role.
Both of them have their duties, both are forced into them, yet both long for ways to escape them and be free. Alabast proves a compelling counterpoint to Task in more ways than one, and the comedy he brings to the book isn't to be underestimated. The last of the characters I want to specifically talk about is Ellia Frayne, councillor to the royalists and zealot of the Mission, the realm's religious authority. She is a highly complex character with her own goals and schemes, and it is clear from very early on that she's taking the war into her own hands with subtle nudges to both Task and his master.
I won't spoil her role in the story, but damn me if I didn't loathe and love her for her place here. She could go from relatable to appalling very easily, and it wasn't so easy to figure out where she stood on things. In many ways, she is also the glue holding the different factions in the book together, allowing the reader a better understanding of the ongoing politics in the kingdom. The Heart of Stone is, in many ways, about the final months of a civil war that has lasted almost a decade.
But more than that, it uses the war and the various injustices committed throughout as a vehicle for the characters to grow and connect. The war isn't shown gratuitously; it isn't glorified or the point of the book. Instead it offers context for everything, and rather than play out all of Task's fights in the book for the reader's benefit, Galley often chose to just depict the aftermath, the state of mind of the Golem and lowly soldiers, the carnage and cleanup duties. In my opinion, he nailed the horrors of war and the ways in which such a long-lasting conflict can ruin the environment it is held in.
There is no call to arms here, but a clear message of avoiding war at all costs, because little good will ever come of it. I felt it was a very mature way to depict war and one I enjoyed a great deal for the way it was executed. However, the book starts off relatively slow.
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I liked the pace, personally, and how it held back a lot of top-down information from Task - and by extension the reader. The first half feels very personal and focused as a result. Task's role in the world, the war, the Truehards, is explored in great depth, as is his friendship with Lesky. There are introductions for Alabast and his recruitment by the Last Fading. Ellia is seen scheming here and there, and Task slowly shifts his mindset towards hope.
But only in the second half does the overarching plot really kick off. Things start spiralling out of control as Task comes to doubt and think more about his place and the Truehards and Fading. It gets progressively more exciting as more is revealed. I think limiting exposure for the most part to what Task himself can witness was clever, but I can see why some readers may not be fully engaged by the early sections.
The problem, if it is one at all, solves itself, however. One nitpick I have is that a lot of the underlying causes for the war were so long in the past, the reader has to rely on reports from witnesses. The novel tells of various atrocities in brief terms, like at campfires, but we don't actually get to see them committed. As a result there is a lot of intended ambiguity in who is right and who is wrong, whether the Truehards are righteous or not.
While it ends up giving pretty definitive answers on almost everything later on, I would have liked to get some slightly more visible evidence. The Mission especially, could have benefitted from a more active role. A lot is implied, but in the end The Heart of Stone doesn't let its focus slip too far from Task and co. For this book in particular, I liked that approach. I liked the focus. But I'd be damned if I didn't want to see more of this world. Galley crafted something very interesting here, with its own mythology and various kingdoms and their dilemmas.
Even if this is a standalone novel with a clear end point, I would love to see the author take this world and tell more stories within it, whether sketching out past events or building further into the future. In the end though everything slots together neatly like the stone plates making up the Golem's body. The character dynamics, the war, the wider world, the rising emotions, they all worked to create a memorable story with a lot of heart. There were plenty of sections that could just get you thinking. There was humor, tension, fear and anger in it.
Galley managed to change my mind on various characters as things progressed, which I take as a big achievement. Despite the personal delays I experienced in finishing this novel, it was always a joy to go back for more. With it being a stand-alone novel, I'm afraid there won't be anything to come back to next year, like if it was a trilogy and that makes me somewhat sad.
I've grown to love Task, Lesky and even the infamous Knight of Dawn. There not being any clear sequels makes it very easy to recommend, however. I know I'm not the only one who gets annoyed with the wait between installments in a series, or needs a change of pace sometimes. I'd honestly recommend The Heart of Stone if you'd like to read something more grounded with a clear start and end point. No cliffhangers, no padding, but fully satisfying in its conclusion.
For that, I already chalk it down as one of my favorite reads of the year, and come the new year, I'll be sure to recommend it again. Ben Galley's put himself on my list of authors to look into further, as well. I really enjoyed this novel. It had some really great action scenes and quite a few POV characters I liked.
The only problem I have with this novel is that since it is a stand alone, there was A LOT that the author had to cram into this book. I also really enjoyed that ending! I really enjoyed this book. No, damn it, Ben interviewed me a while back and made way more effort.
Okay, here's a review: What really makes it is the central character, the eponymous Heart of Stone. A weapon that thinks, that can understand the consequences of his actions, but that cannot choose not to fight for whoever owns him. For some I name no names but I may refer to them elsewhere as my favourite ever authors, this would be an excuse for looooong passages of existential philosophy navel-gazing.
Here Task just … gets on with it, with wry humour, self-awareness and a bleak but ultimately redemptive view of humanity that seems ever more necessary with every passing Trumpish day. He really is the heart of the book. The world building is refreshingly brief see snarky comment on my unnamed favourite favourite authors above. In fact, The Heart of Stone reads more like a thriller that just happens be set in a secondary world, and the better for that.
Just people in a world, being alive, trying to keep that way. Some of the characters are maybe a little too broadly drawn, a little too obvious. General Huff, for example, is too much of the upper-class twit caricature. My one big objection, embarrassingly, is with the brilliant, beautiful, runs rings around everyone else, fully subjective female. But … gods, can I as a feminist legitimately complain that the brilliant, beautiful, runs rings around everyone else, fully subjective else female character trope is somehow a bit irritating? She just not quite my cup of tea.
In the Biblical sense. This is great and makes me so happy. One of the characters just happens to be in a wheelchair. The Heart of Stone will definitely get a positive mention there. I do have some standards, you know. Jan 26, Rebekah rated it really liked it. Task is a stone golem hundreds of years old.
But something went amiss in his construction, and he has a sense of conscience independent from following his given master's orders. We begin the story with Task arriving at his newest master, purchased as a weapon in yet another war. The war experience in this story feels authentic, including down time between battles, getting to know soldiers, cleaning up the aftermath of skirmishes.
These moments in between the conflicts lead to more character insi Task is a stone golem hundreds of years old. These moments in between the conflicts lead to more character insight. There's plenty of blood, rain, grit, gunpowder, broken bones, broken weapons, broken buildings, and broken men. It was easier to hate an enemy than to forgive or understand them. I have heard many praises for The Heart of Stone, and was excited to delve into this one. I had some difficulty connecting with this story and the characters, up to a point, but I believe this experience was intentional. I think, what Galley admirably achieves with this book, is that the reader's experience parallels the golem's experience with humanity.
For about a third of the book, it feels like too many characters, like every other war for hundreds of years, and little reason to care much about what they are doing. Task grew on me, slowly, but once he did I was captivated. As Task's experience kindles a new appreciation for humans, so too does the reader become more intrigued with the story. The point of view characters decrease in number and increase in depth.
The down time between battles decreases, plots thicken, intrigue is revealed and backgrounds are unveiled. When I noticed the book taking this direction, I had hoped for it to avalanche, that the pacing and intensity would exponentially increase as a boulder rolling down a hill. While the pacing picks up some, it lacks a growing sense of urgency. But it morphs into something else, a growing sense of purpose, which is truly what Task has been pursuing.
There's not much difference between the soldiers on each side. The more Task understands that, the more he understands the true futility of war. And though he was built as a tool to end wars, his true desire becomes ending war. As Task goes through a transformation from skepticism and detachment, to connection and concern for the fate of the humans he fights for, the author has built a parallel experience for the reader.
The golem magic is really cool and battle scenes are well described. The Heart of Stone is filled with insightful introspection that applies to humans universally. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a fantasy novel with rich, historical style worldbuilding, unique magic with limitations, and an unpredictable twist of events with epic repercussions. Apr 23, Hiu Gregg rated it really liked it Shelves: A thought-provoking story with some heartfelt character work, a tonne of shit-your-knickers battle scenes, and a fantastically narrated audiobook.
Mar 20, J. Ashman rated it it was amazing. Genuinely the best standalone novel I've had the pleasure of reading! Completely unique protagonist as far as I'm aware. The supporting characters are fantastic and important in the progression of Task as a character. They made him as much as he made them. Twists and turns and laughs and sob Genuinely the best standalone novel I've had the pleasure of reading!
Twists and turns and laughs and sobs, The Heart of Stone has it all; the action is cinematic and visceral. I'm a huge fan of this book! Gutted there's no more, although the story is well rounded and ends brilliantly. Solid five stars from me. I received a paperback advanced copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Read this review and more at Book Geeks Uncompromised! This is the first work by Ben Galley that I have read and just based on the skill at characterization that took place in this book, I definitely want to read more of his work. The main character of this story is Task, a Wind-Cut Golem that was created over years ago to be a weapon in the Diamond Wars. Since then he has been sold and traded to many masters, the l Read this review and more at Book Geeks Uncompromised!
Since then he has been sold and traded to many masters, the latest of which is Captain Huff, leader of the Truehard Army. The nation of Hartlund has been under the shadow of a civil war for nearly a decade with one side supporting the ruling family and the monarchy while the other wants to overthrow the status quo but don't actually seem to have an idea of what to do past that. Probably the best thing about this story was the non-human MC and Task's characterization.
He has spent nearly the entire time he has been alive coming to despise humans. After witnessing years of war after war which amounts to little more than humans looking for excuses to kill each other, he has lost any semblance of respect for them he once had but still desires to find that one leader, or that one person, that will show him that not all humans are like that. Huff is not this person. But what hope he does discover in humanity comes from the Dregs of the army, the lowest of the low. In them, he finds a reason to admire humanity at least a little. I really liked this concept that leaders are not always representative of their people as far as character.
Task has only ever really interacted with the leaders of a given country or army and so that is who he has come to dislike so strongly. It is in the everyday people that he finds hope and affection for humanity. This along with the questioning of who is right in this civil war, if anyone could possibly be right in a situation where people are dying by the hundreds, was honestly the thing that I liked most about this story. Other than Task himself, I also really loved the characters Lesky and Alabast.
Lesky is a stable girl with spunk and honestly there is just nothing not to love about her. I thought she was a tad bit of a cliche character archetype but she really jumped off the page at me. Alabast is the Knight of Dawn. Hasn't really done anything heroic in quite some time and mostly gets by on his reputation and copious amounts of alcohol. Again, this was a character that leapt off the page at me. I liked how he was supposed to be this famous knight but in reality he is a bit of a coward. So there is clearly enough the really like about this book.
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There really wasn't much bad but the things that I did not like seemed to stick out to me. There is a villain in this story and I really don't think this story needed one. The questioning of the morality of war and what it means to be human, whether you are actually a human or a magical golem, was honestly the heart of this story.
The villain's story is interwoven in the rest of it, with breadcrumbs here and there to make the reader wonder what exactly is going on with this person and what their motivations are but when it was all said and done, their story fell a bit flat, their motivations forced and the story itself extraneous. It is possible that I felt this way though in part because I never felt like I had a good grasp on some of the aspects of the world. The Mission acts as a church, their god being the Architect, but I never felt like I had a good grasp of the Mission's place in this world or even what the villainous character's place within the Mission was.
While Task's story ends in a more than satisfying way, I left this story a little perplexed as to how I felt about it. The writing is solid and the characterizations superb, but I felt like I was missing something. Feb 28, Graham Austin-King rated it really liked it. This is the first of Galley's books I have read and I have to say I was impressed.
The concept alone is enough to pique anyone's interest. A golem, long established in myth and fantasy as being a semi-mindless automaton, yet with a soul and the ability to care. Used as a war machine for centuries and bound to the will of its master, the golem, Task, has seen enough bloodshed to horrify a generation.
Yet despite his skills at warfare, Task is unable to refuse the orders of his masters. Galley drags the reader, kicking and screaming through the range of human emotions. From anger and contempt to compassion and finally sadness, Heart of Stone is a well-crafted novel that will leave its readers cursing the fact it's a standalone.
Jan 29, Kristen rated it really liked it.
You can see a bigger, prettier version of this review here, on my blog. To begin, I should probably let you know that I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Just FYI or whatever. I'm still going to be honest AF and probably definitely curse a lot. D This book has, among many things, some extremely quotable quotes. I don't think I've actually ever had so many highlights in one book, ever. There's some excellent use of similes as well here, with things like 'the lines br You can see a bigger, prettier version of this review here, on my blog.
There's some excellent use of similes as well here, with things like 'the lines broke like a load in hungry hands,' and 'the beast tore through the lines like a beggar through a steak. I had a real good visual of what was going on most of the time. I know that reading is 'looking at words and seeing a movie in your head' more or less, to some people, but that doesn't quite happen to me. I've got a real good imagination, and I do usually visualize what's going on as I read, but I've never had the knack for the voices.
That's why I listen to so many audiobooks, lol. Task had a voice as I read this one. An actual, visceral, grating, stone voice. It was somewhere in between Treebeard and Optimus Prime. Am I having auditory hallucinations? It's probably that Galley's writing just makes that shit happen. Task is an interesting character. An interesting concept, really. He is a golem, made for war, used only for war.
He sleeps, and he dreams, but doesn't eat or drink. He feels the heat of a fire, and smells the animals in the stables around his paddock. After years, nothing has changed for him. It's always been war. I can't imagine what that would do to a person's psyche. Golems aren't exactly people though, at least, not to us skinbags, amirite?
But Task has legitimate emotions, so it's sad to think of him constantly warring for all that time. The way he subtly changes throughout the story was really well executed. I rooted for Task right from page one, people or not people. I liked his personality, and how he knows his rules to the absolute letter and will backtalk his master if possible.
He knows exactly what he can get away with. I loved the character that Task became over the course of the book. Lesky is also an endearing character. A friend he didn't ask for and probably didn't really want or didn't know that he wanted , but still a friend. She's got the courage I wish I had, the attitude that I probably have, and the snark that I definitely have. I also really liked Lesky's story and how she grew as a character throughout the book too.
Like Task, she becomes more than the sum of her parts. This was a world in which women weren't barred from serving in the military, and as a woman, I both noticed and appreciated that. Even very highly ranked women, such as Ellia Frayne, while she doesn't actually fight on the front lines or anything, works quite closely with the general of the King's army, among other people.
The opposing side had some fairly highly ranked women as well, and it was no big deal. Ellia wasn't sneered or whistled at or cat called, at least, not to her face. You do see this more and more in modern fantasy, but it's still something that is odd enough to draw my attention. Now, I've got a couple of criticisms too. The first is that the made-up animals seemed sort of weird. I think some good ol' horses and dogs would have fit better, personally. I'm not sure if this is used as a way to demonstrate that this world is different than ours, but, to me that was a given.
The beautiful maps at the beginning of the book were testament of that fact. This world, while different, seems similar enough to ours to allow the same kinds of animals. Horses actually do apparently exist in the world, at least in part of it, because Alabast speaks of them once or twice. It's no big deal, either way, but it irked me because I couldn't remember which of the animals talked about were pretty-much lizard-horses and which were pretty-much lizard-dogs, pretty-much pigs, pretty-much crows, and pretty-much cows.
That sort of thing. My second criticism is very similar to the first - made up swear words. They never ever give me the same reaction as a good old f-bomb is going to give. Like someone is realizing that they are royally fucked and need to let their underlings know it in an angry-as-all-hells panicked sort of way? I think so too, but hey, it's probably because I curse like a fucking sailor. I am ladylike AF, thank you for noticing!
My point here is, these people speak English. This is an English speaking part of this world. Other, 'less severe' curses are the same as English. It's only the word 'fuck' that is changed. This felt like the literary equivalent to figuring out which words cross the line when talking to your mother-in-law for the first time and which substitutes are okay to use but still convey that you really mean fuck without actually saying it.
But, you know, I don't blame Galley for going this direction.
The Distant Shore
In my experience, it's always the people who get offended by the f-bomb that are the most likely to dock a book points because they had to suffer looking at it Better not drop that f-bomb though guys. It's too much for my delicate sensibilities. And for the record, I can't say the word 'fuck' in front of my mother-in-law either, but the woman reads Game of Thrones and shit. I don't even know. All kinds of feels.
Best use of the phrase 'forcible defenestration' in all of literature. Definitely one of the most well written books that I've read in a while! Everyone, do yourselves a favor and read this book! Feb 01, Mark Halse rated it did not like it. I can't get through this nonsense.
This book looked good and maybe it is. I mean a book about a golem, where is the bad part? Well for me it was about the pacing and the POVs. I went into this book wanting an interesting look at a fantasy world through the eyes of a golem. While that is present there are a bunch of side characters and stories that I just wasn't interested in. I understand that the author was trying to make a big story and I might've enjoyed that except for the pacing I can't get through this nonsense. I understand that the author was trying to make a big story and I might've enjoyed that except for the pacing.
The POVs and action move quickly and almost with too much fluidity. Right when I would feel comfortable with a set of characters or part of a story I'd realize that I was already with a new set of characters and in a new part of the story without ever noticing. I got about a quarter of they way through when I realized that I had no idea what was going on or what character I was currently following.
So I started from the beginning and didn't make it back to where I'd left off. I mean, I'm working on developing pre-pre-diabetes. I don't have time to re-re-read things that just aren't worth it. But if you're like me and you read for fun and not for work: Nov 21, Barry Mulvany rated it it was amazing. I'd read a review of this on here and the premise had me intrigued. It is a standalone story of a Golem, told primarily from his point of view. At the beginning of the story he is already years old and spent most of that time in war. He is tired and jaded of it but has just been sold to a general fighting a civil war that has being going on for 9 years.
It is here that he forms a friendship with a stable girl Lesky and this begins to change him, or more accurately awaken things in him that w I'd read a review of this on here and the premise had me intrigued. It is here that he forms a friendship with a stable girl Lesky and this begins to change him, or more accurately awaken things in him that were always there.
We also get her viewpoint and a few others: This is a pretty bleak book, there is a feeling of melancholy throughout. The author really makes you feel the pointlessness of the war and how it's usually pursued by people who are not affected by it. The plot moves at a fairly brisk pace and there are enough twists and turns to keep you interested throughout. This is the first self published book I've ever read but I didn't notice any errors, it there were they must have been too small for me to notice. I really enjoyed all the POV's, they all brought something to the story and showed different facets of the war from both sides.
The only thing that bothered me was the use of a made up swearword. Seriously every time it came up it took me out of the story a bit, it made no sense. Overall though I really enjoyed this. It is a standalone but the author mentions at the end that he may write more stories within the world, and if he does I will definitely be buying them.
See a Problem?
Mar 29, Michael Miller rated it it was amazing. Yet Task was always something more. Yes, he is a war machine, yes he can be brutal, but this golem has a brain inside that head and a better heart than most in his chest. Though beaten down by the magic that binds him to his masters, and very nearly numb to the world after centuries of fighting, when Task is thrown into the middle of the Hartlund civil war he begins to question again: