Heart of Granite – James Barclay

“Max was woken by an insistent nagging at the back of his mind. It probably wasn’t important.”

The Heart of Granite is a behemoth: a kilometres-long lizard bio-engineered with alien DNA, genetically modified to allow thousands of people and smaller lizard species to live within its body (although all the mentions of seeping fluids make it a bit less appealing than, say, Farscape’s Moya).

Smaller lizards like drakes, that is. And by ‘drake’, I basically mean dragon 🙂

HoG is a story about dragon-riding fighter pilots; Top Gun meets Pern. Main character, Max Halloran, is every bit as cocky – more – than Maverick ever was, with the difference that he rides inside the chest-pouch of a fire-breathing lizard he controls with his mind, as part of the Inferno-X squad.

The story kicks in at high gear, mid-fight. To be honest, I found the high-octane opening a little too frantic and struggled slightly to get into the story – but only for a chapter or two, and then I was hooked!

The future has arrived and with it the land wars between the super-continent power structures, desperate to claim as much territory as possible. The war is a background to the story, though, which focuses instead on the more local politics of the HoG ‘mothership’, the excitement of being a drake pilot – and the reason it’s such a deadly, short-lived career.

Not because of fighting, or flying accidents, as you might expect, but rather because of ‘The Fall’: the moment the human mind no longer controls the drake, but merges too utterly into it…

Recommended as just out and out fun, for sci-fi fans who don’t need lengthy explanations of how alien DNA was found, or dragons bred (!), as much as a thrilling story about what happens afterwards 🙂

Kindle: 416 pages / 40 chapters
First published: 18th August 2016
Series: Blood & Fire, book 1
Read from 25th July – 5th August 2016

My rating: 8/10

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