Book name: Heart of Granite
Author: James Barclay
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Science fiction
Publication Date: 2016
Star Rating: 5/5
There are times when you want science fiction but you also want a bit of fantasy alongside.
I started reading Heart of Granite when I was in just such a mood and it absolutely fitted the bill.
When Heart of Granite opens, a world war is raging. The universe is a futuristic one but the home planet is our own.
Max is a fighter pilot aboard a behemoth. He flies what is essentially a dragon except that it is called a drake.
People keep telling him that his drake is a machine, but the design and mechanics are so advanced that it is really like flying a living dragon.
A behemoth is much the same, except that it staggers on thirty pairs of legs across the terrain and acts as home and command centre to Max, his superiors and all the backup staff.
Max and the other fighter pilots including Valera are prone to a phenomenon called the Fall.
This is when a pilot becomes too attached to their drake and need drugs to counter the effects.
It happens because of the deep neurological connection in the advanced mechanics of the drake and the extent to which the pilots feel that the drake is alive and a part of them.
If you think about how VR can feel you can imagine what Max goes through.
The war is more urgent than usual because President Corsini wants a decisive victory before the next elections.
Max’s superior officers can’t wait to oblige and no one cares about the projected casualty rates.
Hence, Max’s flight group Inferno X are informed that they will have a software upgrade. Technically, in their contracts, they have to be consulted and then agree.
However, Max’s superiors lie their way into getting that agreement. The dangers it poses to them and the expensive solutions that could counter them are carefully concealed.
Max is the sort of character (cocky and sometimes arrogant) who doesn’t respond well to this sort of treatment.
He soon finds himself unfairly accused of suffering from the Fall.
He is then wrongly detained in a facility that everyone calls Landfill and gets to see what the Fall looks like up close when other pilots who have it are also present.
Max’s unit is tightknit and loyal, so they have plenty of plans on how to free him and reverse the software upgrade on the drakes.
Heart of Granite had a bit of everything to it. Max was just like a top-gun pilot, and I liked his cockiness mixed with superior abilities. The war felt like any military thriller, but the drakes were pure fantasy no matter how many times we were told they weren’t alive.
James Barclay really captured the feel of a military campaign, the untrustworthy superiors and the loyalty and bravery of the core unit. This, along with the fantasy element, was what I enjoyed most about Heart of Granite.
The plot was strong and it kept focused on the core issue: the software upgrade and the danger to Inferno X. The pace moved along nicely and there were lots and lots of vivid details to build the fictional world.
Thank you for reading my review.
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