I’m currently writing a short story for Soul Stones called Soul Siphon. I’ve never written a short story before so I set out to read some fantasy short stories to see how to write them. Finding them has proven difficult, but then I happened across Ben Galley through an article on The Creative Penn. A quick perusal of his website revealed he’s written a fantasy short story called Shards. I read the synopsis and picked it up right away here’s my review:
Shards – A Story of the Realm by Ben Galley
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Shards – A Story of the Realm is a short story written by Ben Galley as a companion to his novel, Heart of Stone. Ben is both an author and a self-publishing consultant. He’s published 9 novels, 2 non-fiction books, and 1 short story according to goodreads at the time of this posting. He’s currently working on a new trilogy called Chasing Graves.
This review is spoiler free.
Shards follows the main character of the Heart of Stone novel, Task. Task is a golem. That alone caught my interest. Sure, I’ve read about golems, but I’ve never read a book with a golem as the main character. I will start by saying that I have not yet read the Heart of Stone novel, so my first introduction to Task is here in the short story.
It’s a relatively common story thread. Group attacks fortress and seeks out the guy in charge. The twist is that the army is led by a man named Belerod who happens to create golems. The man they are after is a wizard named Casimo.
There’s a lot of characters in this story. Almost too many. Besides the three I already mentioned, there are at least 6-7 more named golems. I can’t remember them all, but here’s the ones I do remember, Thunderkill, Quartz, Rise, and Paragon. And on top of that there’s at least two other human characters whose names evade me.
The golem names were all interesting. I especially like Rise. He is the first golem, and I can just imagine Belerod, very Frankenstine-like, saying “Rise, my creation!” and hence the name. I don’t know if that was Ben Galley’s intention, but that’s what I took from it.
The problem with so many names, as you can see, is that it was just difficult for me to remember them all. It’s harder yet to attribute personality to so many and get attached to them.
The world of Shards is probably called The Realm. I don’t know for sure as it’s not directly mentioned in the short story, but I’m going off the title. The world building is pretty intricate and Galley has created a wonderful world for the setting of these two stories. Belerod is considered a windcutter and the golems technical names are the “Wind-Cut.”
The details behind how the golems were created as well as what kills them is rather interesting. They are made of stone, correct? And we see in the story how things hit them and they just rebuild like you’d expect a golem. Except when attacked by starsteel, a special material that chisels away the stone preventing it from coming back.
I did have a bit of issue here, though. On top of the many characters are a multitude of countries and places. My impression from the amount of name drops is that a reader should already be familiar with these places had they read the original novel. Seeing as I have not, it just seemed like too much and little of it was relevant to the story or their current location.
There’s a pleasant reveal toward the end of the third act that I should have seen coming, but didn’t. The story starts kind of slow, but picks up towards the end of the first act with a pretty riveting battle scene. It’s not your typical battle scene, though. Sure, there’s plenty of decapitations, but not from a sword, plenty of crushed bones, but not from a hammer. I loved the fight scenes in this story.
The themes throughout the book are a setup for the main novel and it’s very plain and easy to understand even if you haven’t read the novel.
Overall, I enjoyed Shards and would recommend reading it. I did have a few issues with it that I mentioned above, but the main reason I only gave this story 3.5 stars is the ending.
It was a bit of let down for me. Every story needs a denouement. It helps the readers tie up loose ends. Shards’ resolution accomplished this, but the way it was carried out bothered me. Without sharing spoilers, it’s an ending style that authors are cautioned against. Granted it was not quite as grievous as it could have been, yet it still had the same effect on me.
Despite that, the plot is solid and storytelling is fantastic. I would recommend grabbing a copy on Amazon and judging for yourself. Several others have given it 4 and 5 stars.
Be sure to check out Ben Galley’s Facebook page to keep up to date with his many novels and series.
Want another review? Omens of Fury by Sean Hinn