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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Chasing Graves by Ben Galley (reviewed by Justine Bergman)



Official Author Website
Order Chasing Graves over HERE (US) and HERE (UK)

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his bestselling debut The Written in 2010, Ben has released a range of award-winning fantasy novels, including the weird western Bloodrush and the epic standalone The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the brand new and critically-acclaimed Chasing Graves Trilogy.

When he isn't conjuring up strange new stories, Ben works as a self-publishing consultant, helping fellow authors from around the world to publish their books. He enjoys exploring the Canadian wilds and sipping Scotch single malts, and will forever and always play a dark elf in The Elder Scrolls. One day he hopes to live in an epic treehouse in the mountains.

Ben can be found on Twitter or vlogging on YouTube @BenGalley, or loitering on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. You can also get a free eBook copy of his bestselling fantasy The Written at http://www.bengalley.com.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Meet Caltro Basalt. He's a master locksmith, a selfish bastard, and as of his first night in Araxes, stone cold dead.

They call it the City of Countless Souls, the colossal jewel of the Arctian Empire, and all it takes to be its ruler is to own more ghosts than any other. For in Araxes, the dead do not rest in peace in the afterlife, but live on as slaves for the rich.

While Caltro struggles to survive, those around him strive for the emperor's throne in Araxes' cutthroat game of power. The dead gods whisper from corpses, a soulstealer seeks to make a name for himself with the help of an ancient cult, a princess plots to purge the emperor from his armoured Sanctuary, and a murderer drags a body across the desert, intent on reaching Araxes no matter the cost.

Only one thing is certain in Araxes: death is just the beginning.


FORMAT/INFO: Chasing Graves is 391 pages long divided over 23 numbered and titled chapters and a prelude, and is the first entry in The Chasing Graves Trilogy. The book is available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook format, as well as on Kindle Unlimited. It was self-published by the author on December 5, 2018. Cover art by Chris Cold, cover design by Shawn T. King.

ANALYSIS (Justine): Firstly, I'd like to thank the author for giving me an advanced copy of this book. I was so intrigued with the concept of an original fantasy world built with an Egyptian flavor that it was instantly pushed to the top of my TBR - I am so glad for this decision. Chasing Graves is a deliciously dark tale of treachery, secrets and murder filled with a cast of truly detestable characters whose intentions cannot ever be taken at face value. The only drawback of reading the first installment of a series before its official release date is the grueling wait for its sequel!

Araxes, the sprawling City of Countless Souls, where wealth is measured by the amount of bound dead slaves owned, lies within the heart of The Arctian Empire. As renowned locksmith Caltro Basalt arrives upon its docks with a promise of employment, he quickly finds himself being pursued by a group of brutal killers that violently heave him into the city's infamous soul trade and sold to the mysterious Widow Horix. Nilith ventures across the Long Sands with her dead husband's corpse - and ghost - in tow; her timely arrival at the Gem of the Arc her sole ambition. Boss Boran Temsa makes a living illegally selling souls to the city's aristocracy with a hunger for power that will allow him to finally emerge from the shadows. Princess Sisine grows weary of her father's inability to rule the empire and wickedly schemes to take control by any means necessary. All the while, as the people of The Arc deal in death and betrayal, the believed dead gods plot to come back to the land of men.

Of all the things that deserve praise, it's impossible not to begin with the outstanding character development. In my opinion, Galley has given breath to some of the finest and most complex voices in modern fantasy. Caltro is incredibly snarky and self-indulgent, yet I couldn't help but feel sympathy for his wrongful enslavement. Nilith is a strong, badass woman who can handle herself in a multitude of adversarial situations, but I had to keep reminding myself she murdered her husband and dragged his corpse through a desert in order to bind his soul. Sisine appears to be a calculating and merciless queen-in-waiting, but she's set to inherit a city so corrupt that her extreme measures may be just what Araxes deserves. Temsa is a despicable murderer and soulstealer, however, he's charming and an unfortunate product of his violent environment only attempting to raise his station. This three-dimensionality made it insanely enjoyable to get acquainted with each and I'm really looking forward to learning more about them.

The setting and environments are beautifully built with striking detail, transporting you directly into this peculiar, yet familiar world. From the diverse districts of Araxes to the endless expanse of the Long Sands to the alien peak of the Firespar, every aspect of this world is so distinct and tangible. The pacing changes based on the character of focus and the situations they're embroiled in, at times passive and other times breakneck, which I found to be extremely refreshing. The prose is articulate and picturesque with seriously cynical undertones, making this an entertaining read.

CONCLUSION: Chasing Graves is one of the most unique stories I've read this year and ended with a cliffhanger that had me internally screaming for more. It's a strong start to a new series and I'm really excited and looking forward to seeing what happens next. This is one you really need to add to your to-read list.

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