Heart of Granite (Blood And Fire #1), by James Barclay
Description: (from Orion Books )
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 so desperate measures must be taken.
Max Halloran has no idea. He’s 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 for in thanks for his service, Max has everything . . .
. . . right up until he hears something he shouldn’t have, and refuses to let it go. Suddenly he’s risking his life and the lives of all those he cares about for a secret which could expose corruption at the highest levels, and change the course of the war.
One man, one brief conversation . . . a whole world of trouble . . .
A review copy (eARC) of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley. Some things might change in the final copy.
I first heard a few nice things about Heart of Granite and saw it listed as books to look out for in August on many blogs. So when I saw it was available on netgalley I decided to request it to see what all of this hype was about. I’m glad I did because I had a great time reading it! More so, I got that one as a pdf and can only read those on my ipad, which I don’t find very practical for reading; when I have to use it, it really has to be for a book that is worth the trouble. I DNF’d a book a few month back because it was too slow to start and just a bother to fight with it on the ipad. The fact that I finished this ~400pages book on the ipad is a great thing on itself!
“Max climbed quickly up the chest scales, turned and slid into the bespoke pouch, feeling the mind-touch of the drake intensify and a soul-deep thrill course through him. He moved his feet into their bays and his arms into the receptor sleeves, keeping them close to his sides.”
If I had to describe Heart of Granite quickly to hook somebody it would be PACIFIC RIM WITH DRAGONS!! No Mako Mori here unfortunately but there are dragons so I guess It can be considered a fair trade! Lizards/Drakes/Geckos/Basilik/… they are all in there! Basically pilots can share a mental and physical link with their drake and this is used as a weapon because, as the description explains, the world is at war. It is set on earth, in the future and this link is done thanks to some kind of alien technology! Is this fantasy? Is this science-fiction? Even the author doesn’t seem to know and that’s okay! It’s a really entertaining SFF military novel and I had a great time.
“Thirty metres of drakes moved serenely out of its pen and blocked his way. For about the millionth time, Max wondered why they didn’t just call them dragons because that was sure as shit what they looked like. The drake’s eyes were on him, and so were those of its pilot, Squadron Leader Valera Orin, going through her per-flight routine.”
The main character, Max, is an excellent drake pilot. He also is arrogant, self-confident and full of wit. Still he cares for the people in his life and always tries to do the right thing. Nothing revolutionary here but it’s a kind of character that I find is always nice and fun to follow.
“Max blew a kiss and walked away. “I’m going to look for you out there today. Gonna need a target for my drake to shit on.”
I love to quote some good parts and for this novel I really had to control myself to not quote main paragraphs or even main pages! I laugh quite a lot when reading Heart of Granite. I also liked how the world building and backstory was sprayed among the pages but also at the beginning of each chapters, with quotes taken from some sorts of reports, books or archives.
“When alien technology and biological matter was discovered on the Ark asteroid, you could sense the world holding its breath. The day the commencement of experimentation on the fusion of alien and Terran DNA was announced, global politics changed forever. – Maria Rodriguez, New Age Politics: The Rise of the Multi-Faith Alliance.”
My only disappointment was that what is hinted at in the description took its time to happen so I always felt like the real story was not starting yet. It wasn’t that the novel was slow to start but I was always waiting for that thing he “hears but shouldn’t have”. So I guess if I hadn’t read the description I wouldn’t have had any big disappointment for that novel! I could sense that it was one big setup for the next book but it was still very gripping. I’m really looking forward to what will happen next!
“Flying a drake is exactly like drug addiction. An overdose’ll kill you… prolonged flying’ll make you sick… but no way in hell will you ever give it up because the absence is more terrifying than the inevitability of an early death. – Max Halloran”