Review: Heart of Stone by Ben Galley

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goodreads

He wondered whether this Lundish war was any different from the three dozen or so he’d seen before, whether these Truehard veins ran hotter and truer; whether he might finally find a cause he could rally behind, to blunt his chore of wreaking carnage. To do some good.

Technically speaking, this is an excellent book. The characters are likable and complex, the relationships between the main cast are great (and often adorable). The writing style is polished and quotable, with none of the clunkiness you sometimes see in indie books. The exploration of golem psychology, learning to care about centuries of not caring, also interesting.

Worldbuilding (which wasn’t a factor, but I feel I should mention it) is minimalistic, but fairly non-standard. There are strange animals and moving trees. The level of technology is higher than you usually see (guns!) and most of the magic seems to have been lost, with only a few sorts of innate abilities. Nothing Sanderson-like, however – those who like systems will be disappointed.

So what went wrong? I have no idea. It has all the things I usually enjoy. And yet, it never quite clicked. The plot? The pacing? There was a bit at the middle where I was about to give up because it seemed such a slog. And I usually don’t mind slow. It got easier when it started coming together and I heard it’s better in audio (most of my friends raving about it seem to have listened to it rather than read it), but the ebook experience was…odd. I wasn’t a fan of the very ending either – an aspect of it felt like an easy cop-out as well as a completely unnecessary addition.

Enjoyment: 2.5/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: those looking for slow, character-focused military fantasy or very polished indie books
Not recommended to: those who need action and excitement? As I can’t pinpoint what exactly bothered me, I’m not sure what else to say here.

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