Heart of Granite by James Barclay is the first book in the Blood & Fire series. It’s more sci fi than I thought it would be, (as in…completely) but that doesn’t throw me off as much as it would have years ago.
War has torn the world apart, and there are no signs that the war is going to end anytime soon. Max Halloran is a hunter-killer drake pilot of the behemoth Heart of Granite, and if you were to ask the man himself, the best of the best. He is a part of Inferno-X, and his glamorous life consists mostly of getting praise, piloting his drake Martha, fighting the enemy, and sleeping with his girlfriend. He’s living the dream and partying hard, knowing that a drake pilot’s life tends to be brief. Either you die on the wing, or you Fall. But then Max hears something he shouldn’t, something that turns his world upside down. And he refuses to let it go.
I don’t know what I expected when I picked up this book – only that it would be a great read – but it sure as hell wasn’t fighter pilots flying dragons (drakes) built out of alien DNA. First of all, I thought it would be a Fantasy book and the drakes would be “regular” dragons, not man-constructed from alien DNA.
There’s a whole lot of implied back story about not just the drakes, but also about the war. Because most of the story takes place around the Heart of Granite, most of the information you obtain is from people working/living there, or politicians. And since they already know what happened in the past, why the war is going on for so long, and who came up with the brilliant idea of using drakes instead of fighter planes, they don’t talk to each other about it. I like that though, you kind of have to figure it out yourself. Also, this is book one in a series, so there’s plenty of information yet to come, I think.
The book doesn’t really portray the chain of command, politicians and (some) researchers in a good light. The main antagonists are all in it for their own gain and their reputations. That’s stuck with me, because it felt like a real world situation.
I can’t in good conscience spoil what big reveals are in store for Max, but they are shocking. Astounding. World changing. I’m excited to see where the story will take Max from here, as well as the other pilots of Inferno-X, and the Heart of Granite itself.
The story itself is fast paced and completely engrossing. This is certainly a new direction for Barclay, but also for me, because I’ve read very few sci fi novels. It’s a good direction though, and it might push me to extend my range of genres I read.