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The Heart of Stone

De : Ben Galley
Lu par : Adam Stubbs
Durée : 18 h et 24 min
4,0 out of 5 stars (1 notation)

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Description

Mercenary. 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 colors. 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 faces his final fight. Even one made of stone.

The Heart of Stone - the brand new standalone from UK fantasy author Ben Galley - is now available in audiobook format, read by by Adam Stubbs. Find out more about The Heart of Stone at www.bengalley.com/heart-of-stone.

©2017 Ben Galley (P)2018 Ben Galley

Ce que les auditeurs disent de The Heart of Stone

Notations
Global
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Interprétation
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Histoire
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars

Stubbs's performance is spotless!

Nine feet tall, four hundred-year-old and made of stone and magic, Task is one of the last Golems in the Realm and a powerful, nearly invincible war machine. Task is bought by the Truehards of Hartlund to help them win a nine-year civil war opposing the king and his nobility (the Truehards) to a group of former councilors, merchants and workers calling themselves the Last Fading. Despite being alien, feared, and even hated, the Wind-cut Golem is Hartlund’s last hope. But what if Hartlund’s war fulfills Task’s secret hope to finally find purpose, redemption or peace?

"There are three rules I am bound to. I cannot disobey my master, I cannot harm my master, and I cannot harm myself. Those are the three pillars we each must abide by."


I’m so glad I gave Ben Galley’s story a go. I didn’t get the opportunity to read many self-published books so far but I’m convinced regardless, from my limited experience and mostly from the multiple experiences of trusted friends, that the Heart of Stone is a little gem in the lot, for multiple reasons.

For one thing, Galley’s writing is quite good. I expected typos and perhaps some awkward turns of phrases. Instead, I found the writing extremely polished and really beautiful in places. But I shouldn’t have been surprised by the “polished” part, considering that the writer is also a self-publishing consultant who helps new authors publish their books. More than the form however, it was his way with words that made Galley’s story compelling for me.


Now a lot of people might be deterred by the pacing of this book. I can’t really blame them, as the first half or so was pretty slow and though a few battles were fought, there wasn’t enough context to make them particularly impactful or distinguishable from one another. However, I felt that slowness was necessary because it allowed Galley to give a lot of substance to his characters and to learn a great deal about their pasts (especially Task and Alabast, the legendary Knight of Dawn, tasked by the Last Fading to defeat the Golem).


I also found it extremely refreshing to be in the head of a sentient golem, capable of feeling and thinking but with limited needs, desires and freedom. Some readers might feel Task was too “human” but his way of thinking felt pretty different to me, primitive somehow and even simplistic. I loved to learn more facets of him and I was glad that despite the tremendous growth he underwent, that development felt honest and consistent. And that applies for pretty much every other character in the book in my opinion.

Galley also put a lot of emphasis in the interactions between his characters and I think that’s what I loved the most in this book. The relationships Task formed, so varied and so different from the coldness, mistrust and hate he’s known for centuries, were complex and progressive as well as beautiful life lessons.


But despite all the things I liked about the Heart of Stone, two things prevented me from giving it a full 4 stars rating or even 5 stars: unexplained events and the worldbuilding.

Firstly, two decisive events happened off-screen. Missing the first was okay, even though it would have added welcome action sequences. The second however was really a shame because witnessing it would have given so much more impact and closure to the story.

As for the worldbuilding, most of the first half of the book lacked context and I was pretty lost and frustrated at the beginning. The good news however is that almost every question I had has been answered and every contradiction or what I considered to be a plot-hole was addressed in the most suitable moment, which allowed for a few revelations and suspenseful occurrences.

Most of the worldbuilding came from the excerpts that opened each chapter and the flashback dreams Task had. And they did provide a lot of information about the different kinds of “old magic”, the religion and the history. But I would have liked some information to be incorporated in the story and not just provided in a concise and sometimes enigmatic way. However, I have to give a special mention to the original elements introduced in this world and that added an additional fantastic touch: animals, seasons and months, magical trees and moon/star systems!

Finally, I would have loved to learn more about the different kinds of magics the Mission (the church) has been guarding jealously and about the Windtrickers and how Golems were built. Ben mentioned in his acknowledgements that he might be visiting the Realm again with either a sequel (following the story of one of the major characters) or a prequel about a younger Task. So I’ve got the hope we might learn more about the old magic.


Before I conclude this review, I’d love to mention the amazing job Adam Stubbs did. I don’t have a big experience with audiobooks yet but I really, really loved how Adam interpreted the characters and the different accents, voices and even personalities he gave them. Hell, I couldn’t even understand how Task was supposed to sound. I mean how do you begin to imagine how “two rocks grinding together” might produce words and thoughts? Well, Stubbs did it in an almost natural and pretty convincing way! I hope your throat didn’t ache too much afterwards, dude! He also gave Alabast a great voice and I got a definite “Inigo Montoya” feel from him, not only because of his drinking issues, dueling skills and tortured past, but mainly from the accent and the funny way he delivered his retorts!

Conclusion
The Heart of Stone is an original, gripping and a genuinely human tale. I won’t lie, this was a slow book but I could feel the dedication and the authenticity Ben Galley put in his characters and their relationships. I would have loved a longer book, with more action scenes and more detailed explanations about magic and history but I can’t deny how much I enjoyed this book and the peculiar atmosphere it had. If you’re a lover of character-driven stories interspersed with gory battles scenes, scheming, secret agendas and an original approach of war, this book is for you!

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20/04/2020

Loved this story!

I really enjoyed tagging along with Task for this story. Definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new fantasy to read.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 14/03/2019

Pretty Good overall

Pretty decent. The narrator was forgettable, except for the main characters voice and the villains were fairly weak. Mostly evil for evils sake rather than any real relatable motivation. I enjoyed the main character, but some of the side characters were too forgettable. Battle scenes were well done for the most part.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
Image de profile pour Drew McVittie
  • Drew McVittie
  • 19/04/2018

Can a stone golem really change?

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.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BookWol
  • 21/03/2018

A Satisfying Standalone

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.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 20/03/2018

Addictive!

One of my favorite things to do after reading a book I loved, is finding it in audio. Ben Galley is a true keyboard wizard, and Adam Stubbs absolutely dazzled us with his silver tounge sorcery! The action never ceases to keep pulling you past the "just one more chapter" phase, and before you know it, it's 3 a.m. FYI you should definitely re-re-read, or listen to, this fictional masterpiece!

  • Global
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Bart Saint Bart
  • 02/02/2018

A writing style not to my tastes.

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. The pacing in this book is very like that of THE RED KNIGHT, a book I also disliked. 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. So my verdict is that if you enjoyed the writing style of THE RED KNIGHT or easily followed any book in MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN then this book might be worth a spin. But if you're like me and you read for fun and not for work: SKIP IT.

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