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Review

Grim Solace by Ben Galley

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: https://www.bengalley.com/
SERIES: The Chasing Graves Trilogy
PUBLISHED: March 14, 2019 (Self-published)
PAGES: 472
GENRE: Dark Fantasy

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Blurb

Stolen from the widow’s clutches, master thief and ghost Caltro Basalt must learn new ways to survive the cutthroat society of the Arctian Empire. His one hope for freedom and justice? A gift from the dead gods, who continue to beg for a saviour.

Breaking a soul takes time, and Caltro’s spirit is far from broken. Many try to weave him into their plots, but he is set on salvation by no means but his own.

As Caltro finds himself ever ensnared in Araxes’ cruel games, Nilith fights to survive the Dune Plains in her quest for redemption, Sisine continues her game of claiming ruler, and Temsa works toward his reign of chaos, one noble at a time

The board is set. The players chosen. Who will win the great game of Araxes?


Review

ALSO REVIEWED AT: Fantasy Book Critic, Goodreads

The epic game continues in Grim Solace, the ambitious and unrelenting sophomore installment in The Chasing Graves series.

And so we carry on with our journey into a battle of life and death, where mysteries are bound to arise from beneath the punishing sands. The so-called “Dead Gods” scheme with hopes of fixing a fractured world, but as with all the others with skin in the game, who can presume their true intentions? Factions lurking in the shadows cast by Araxes’ spiring towers at sunset clash for supremacy with no regard for collateral damage and the only measurements of success are either in the weight of their copper half-coins or the number of white feathers upon the breasts of the wronged. With the introduction of a whole new multitude of monsters and mayhem, only the grains slipping through the hourglass will tell who will reign triumphant.

We begin right where we left off as Caltro finds himself in the clutches of another who will gladly use him as easily as he himself uses his tools to breach an impenetrable vault. As he is passed from one bad situation to the next, he internally struggles on which path to freedom will best suit his selfish needs. However, a gift given to him by the gods proves him a valuable asset to all the parties involved in the fight for power.

Temsa continues to carve a path to the top of the food chain, a path drenched in blood and littered with carnage. His unfounded and blind ambition, as well as his willingness to play both sides of a raging war, may be his demise as the loyalty of those closest to him begins to waver.

Empress Nilith races to reach Araxes to fulfill her master plan while outrunning a group of bandits fueled by a malicious grudge. Her path is rife with horrors, both natural and man-made, but her belief that she can undo the travesties set forth by those before steadily pushes her forward.

There are others with curious and unknown designs working in secret and outside of earshot that may very well play a crucial role in the outcome of the game. Will their crafty planning turn the tide as a hopeful victor reaches the finish line?

Grim Solace is a wonderfully realized story dominated by impeccable and deepening character development, and while book one introduced a cast of great characters, this one allows us to peek deeper into their minds and witness their struggles and machinations. The story moves along at a breakneck pace as peril awaits at every turn. The cunning and danger are palpable and the overall feeling is grim and futile, however there remains a seed of hope that there will be justice where justice is due. A welcomed dark, snide humor breaks up the aura of complete hopelessness, making Caltro’s passages particularly enjoyable to read. Galley also beautifully graces the pages with exotic and vividly depicted places and creatures, making a read that remains captivating throughout. When things begin to settle down to an almost ordinary level, he throws in a fresh and fantastical adversary or hellish landscape, challenging your brain to let go and believe in the unbelievable. 

The threads are beginning to come together, even though we are left grasping the edge with several cliffhangers. The story is becoming more compelling with each chapter and I’m really excited to see how Galley concludes this tale, which has definitely piqued my interest and violently drawn me in. As I dive deeper into this world, it’s becoming more difficult to decide on who I’d like to see victorious, because if I’ve learned anything from these exquisite characters, it’s to trust no one. The fight for Araxes continues in Breaking Chaos due out March 4th.

Note: A huge thank you to Ben Galley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book.

Justine Bergman

Web developer by trade, ravenous reader, excited reviewer, dark fantasy enthusiast, mother of pups, drinker of strong coffee, and player of games. I'm also a contributor over at Fantasy Book Critic and The Fantasy Hive, and I love sharing the love.

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