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