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Grim Solace by Ben Galley

Grim Solace by Ben Galley
Book Name: Grim Solace
Author: Ben Galley
Publisher(s): Self-Published
Formatt: Ebook
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy
Release Date: January 24, 2019

Spoiler Warning: Minor spoilers for Chasing Graves and Grim Solace.

“They say avoiding death makes a man do desperate things, but I tell you, it’s only when you’re dead and bound that you know the true meaning of desperation.”

The second installment of Ben Galley’s Chasing Graves Trilogy is undeniably one of desperate undertakings. And if you were under the impression that the first installment, Chasing Graves, was dark and gory you are in for more grim treats in Grim Solace. I had come away from Chasing Graves with a healthy understanding of the role of the shade but Grim Solace expanded on that role in a variety of ways. Along with the continuation of the grimdark element the trilogy holds, the trilogy continues to not be oversaturated with dark elements that could leave one feeling overly dismal.

Ultimately, what Galley delivers is a novel that has plenty of gore, demoralizing situations and characters, with an overcast of Egyptian mythology but, is wonderfully balanced with humor that gives Grim Solace a unique edge. If you have read other grimdark series, such as Glen Cook’s The Black Company, Brent Week’s The Night Angel Trilogy or the massively epic Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, I have no doubt you will devour Galley’s Chasing Graves novels.

Our main protagonist Caltro is desperately trying to retract himself from the harrowing situation of being a shade. In fact, he’s so desperate he’s willing to partner with an old, insidious hag to achieve that end. Aligning himself with Widow Horix is a dangerous endeavor, for Caltro knows very well that at any time his half-coin, which holds his soul, could be destroyed by her. Meanwhile he is hunted by both royalty and the cultish society, The Church of Sesh, and is set to pick locks for the Widow, while she spins her own complex schemes.

Horix was my mistress, whether I liked it or not.

Many of the secondary characters that appeared in Chasing Graves make a return in Grim Solace, as well as numerous new characters to support this diverse cast of Araxes. Caltro continues to grow as a character in surprising ways, especially in one particular way that strongly moves the plot in fascinating and, at times, comical directions.

The pacing starts out smoothly enough, a little slow with splashes of intense action or harrowing episodes of suspense. Grim Solace’spacing rapidly accelerates over its successor though while it continues to expand on its worldbuilding that is organic to the story and exploration of the shade. I also continue to appreciate Galley’s clever handling of prose that helped the book feel authentic, such as poems, brief notes of historic text and fun quips at the beginning of each chapter furthered the immersion of the story. Grim Solace, as far as the trilogy goes thus far, is certainly not half-baked.

Also, never throughout Grim Solace have I felt confused at what was transpiring within the novel and to the characters. New elements unfold that help prop-up Galley’s world to new heights, such as the further expansions of the Tenets of a bound shade, ethnic groups that abound outside the City of Souls, the agricultural that supports the trade of the city, and the powers that hold Araxes in thrall.

Personally, while Caltro’s humor and cocky defiance’s to his owners was definitely entertaining, Nilith and her breakneck quest to claim her husband’s soul in a political move for power equally held my interest. Caltro continues to be prominent in Grim Solace and while he comes-off as a comic relief, I enjoyed the struggle of Nilith and the dynamic relationship with her captor, at times more than our main protagonist. Ultimately, Galley was capable of making me feel concerned for the characters involved, particular Nilith and her band, and when things heated-up it made for a pleasurable read altogether.

Thus, Grim Solace is exactly what it promises: solace for Caltro to continue forward while his circumstances seem bleak and hopeless. It would appear that Galley is setting-up the last novel, Breaking Chaos, to be a chaotic ending to his ghoulish trilogy as the many forces he’s created move together in conclusion. I will be waiting for the ending of his trilogy with eager anticipation and to know the fate of our bumbling, lockpicking shade.

The final installment of Galley’s trilogy, Breaking Chaos, is due for release in March, 2019. I would love to thank Ben Galley for gifting me this ARC of Grim Solace. It’s truly a privilege to read a piece before its release upon the world.


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