Thursday, August 18, 2016

Heart Of Granite - James Barclay

Book Details

Book Title: Heart Of Granite

Author: James Barclay

: Gollancz

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 412

Format: Paperback

Genre: Military Fantasy/Science Fiction

Audience: For those who love high octane fiction, with dragons, large scale battles and a great group of characters.

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy it!

Summed up in one word: Ferocious

First Impression: I was sent this by Gollancz and when I read that it is military fantasy, I was a bit dubious as I haven't read many books in that genre. I got stuck in and at first I was not really enjoying this book, I found the air battles disorientating and the lack of explanation on the events that preceded this setting confusing. Around pages 50-75 this book really kicks in and you have to hang on for dear life and it is not stop, action, adrenaline, escape, mutations, fighting, dragons, fire, battles and great moments between a squadron of talented fighters. This is the start of an amazing trilogy and readers need to support this.

One Man, One Brief Conversation, A Whole World Of Trouble...

The world has become a battleground in a war which no side is winning. But for those determined to retain power, the prolonged stalemate cannot be tolerated.

Max Halloran is living the brief and glorious life of a hunter-killer pilot. He's an ace in the air, on his way up through the ranks, in love, and with his family's every need provided Max has everything...

Or does he?

(Synopsis from Heart Of Granite)


Story: Heart Of Granite took me by surprise. The beginning of this book is disorientating. You get thrown into a fully formed world with very little explanation of how this version of earth came to be (Each chapter has a quote or an excerpt to help give context but to begin with, that is it). The author is more interested in going straight into the action. There are air battles set on various enhanced version of real life and fictional reptiles. The squadron we follow called Inferno-X ride Drakes (dragon like creatures who breath fire). The plot predominantly follows Max Halloran and Inferno-X during their time fighting the enemy in a war between the world superpowers. It also follows the politics behind the scene, all the back-stabbing, political take overs, the lying and the cover-ups. The story takes place in and around the Heart Of Granite, A behemoth approx. one kilometre long. The Heart Of Granite is a living creature that has been modified to carry an army into battle and provide all the surveillance and tactical necessities that squadrons of fighters will need. I could talk all day about the setting and the depth of detail here but it will take me many, many pages. 

The story has a difficult take off, but when it kicks in we all get such a treat. Intense air battles with dragons, squadron-family dynamics, political back stabbing, big breath-taking scenes, weird alien moments, the love between a pilot and his drake and many other elements that make this book stand out. The story is rooted in fantasy, with science fiction elements, with a lot of military dressing over the top, once I had established what the call-signs were, the dynamics of the battles and what the characters were capable of, then I really started to love this book, barely looking up until I reached its satisfying conclusion.

Characters: There are many characters here in Heart Of Granite. The most important one for this review is of course Max Halloran himself, along with his drake Martha (or princess). This duo make this book shine, Max is a unbearable, egotistical, handsome pain in the bottom, but he does what is best for Inferno-X and he loves Martha 100%. As the story develops, we find Max in many difficult situations that leave him scared, afraid, alone, but also times when he is fierce, head strong and heroic. He is a top notch lead character and with Martha along for the ride (Excuse the pun), he makes a great read. The fact that the author wrote in so many influential characters and never missed a beat really impressed me, all the members of Inferno-X gel together so well and you can really feel like your flying alongside them, watching in on their antics and their special bond. Honourable mention goes to the politicians behind the scenes, I usually HATE politics in books like this as I think it drags everything down. The politics here epic though, with all the lead staff clawing for the upper hand, back stabbing and overruling to get the outcome they want and get the promotion they are aiming for, so good :D.

Themes: Big themes include Love, Transformation, World Politics, War, Corruption, Military Tactics and Insanity. Other themes include Trust, Relationships, Capture, Fear and Freedom.

Likes: Detail. Depth. Imagination. Great Character Development. Well Executed. Continuity. Amazing Creatures. Rise and Fall Of A Hero.

Dislikes: The lack of a proper explanation of what The Fall is until later on in the book...(I won't explain here, read the book and find out for yourself!). Mainly the lack of proper explanation on elements in this book that would have made it much easier to understand and appreciate from the start. 

Rating: I could talk about this book all day. I am definitely looking forward to the next instalment. Some issues from the get go, but after you get an idea of the spirit of this story, it becomes an intense, adrenaline fuelled, emotion, fierce and beautiful reading experience. An intelligent read, with all the depth and detail you could ever want!


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