In Araxes, being murdered is just the start of your problems.
Castro Basalt has the worst luck. From the start of his story, his situation goes from bad to worse and still manages a continuous downward slide. He’s not the most likable sort of fellow, but not really a bad sort. As lockpicks go, he’s one of the best in the business. Yes, he’s a thief, and times are tough, so when an opportunity comes his way to take a job offered from the seat of the king at the Cloudpiecer in the sprawling city of Araxes, he takes it a ship and sets sail.
Thus begins the series of unfortunate events which is Chasing Graves. Here is where we discover the hellish existence of being dead but alive, a shade and a bound slave. Ben Galley has a gift for finding the humanity within the inhuman, and showing the inhumanity in abundance in mankind. A highly immersive dark fantasy with a fantastically imagined premise.
The old gods are dead. At least that’s what most people believe. A thousand years ago they imparted the knowledge of binding a shade, offering mankind a chance for an afterlife. Then the Gods vanished, leaving the temples and believers diminishing more and more with time. Over the course of the last millennium, mankind has turned this so called gift, into a very lucrative business. This makes the city of Araxes a very dangerous place to be for the living. known as the city of Countless Souls, wealth here is measured in the number of bound shades owned. Rich businessmen, aristocracy, and merchants whose wealth is measured in death have created a booming black market. The selling of shades have the city in a stranglehold of slavery. Many wealthy a Tor or Tal, own tens of thousands of shades who toil for their businesses and their homes. At the beginning of the book, are the Tenets of the Dead, which lay the foundation upon which those living, acquire and bind the souls of those who die.
Tenets of the Bound Dead:
THEY MUST DIE IN TURMOIL
THEY MUST BE BOUND WITH COPPER HALF-COIN AND WATER OF THE NYX
THEY MUST BE BOUND WITHIN FORTY DAYS
THEY SHALL BE BOUND TO WHOMEVER HOLDS THEIR COIN
THEY ARE SLAVED TO THEIR MASTER’S BIDDING
THEY MUST BRING THEIR MASTERS NO HARM
THEY SHALL NOT EXPRESS OPINIONS NOR OWN PROPERTY
THEY SHALL NEVER KNOW FREEDOM UNLESS IT IS GIFTED TO THEM
Being a bound shade is beyond hellish. You can’t eat, drink, taste, or smell. There is no sleep. No respite to be found anywhere. It’s pretty bad on all fronts. There is however, pain and torture in abundance. Copper inflicts horrific pain upon a shade and is used liberally and creatively by their upon shades by their masters. It instills a remarkable measure of compliance amongst the bound dead upon whose backs the sprawling city of Araxes was built. A shade is disdained by all but a rare few of humanity. A few are actually free of their binding, owned by no one, but even those are treated with liberal doses of contempt wherever they go.
A cast of intriguing characters in addition to the protagonist set events in motion in which Castro finds himself embroiled in a political power play. His chapters are in first person and really give the reader a deep look into what’s going on his head. The parallel stories of supporting cast and the plot, are told in third person omniscient which deepened the excellent world building.
The city of Araxes is huge and the author does an excellent job of making us feel the labyrinth and sprawl with his world building. The desert across which Nilith is dragging a corpse and its shade towards Araxes, is both sweltering, and freezing as well as full of deadly adversaries. The horrible abode and business of killing and enslaving the unwary by the ambitious boss Boran Temsa and his sellsword Ani Jexebel are horrifically detailed in their casually violent way of making coin. Sisine, the Queen-in-Waiting, has had enough of the recluse king and the absent Queen which have pushed her too far and she intends to change that.
With detailed characters, a twisting plot, and a heavy dose of gory darkness, Ben Galley has once again produced a fantasy you can sink your teeth into. Or not, after all, the book is chock full of corpses. I enjoyed this very much and am looking forward to what the future holds for Castro Basalt in book 2, Grim Solace.
- File Size: 3339 KB
- Print Length: 299 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: BenGalley.com; 1 edition (December 7, 2018)
- Publication Date: December 7, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07H9KJ1PV
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 rule it 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 only the beginning.
About Ben Galley
Currently hailing from Victoria in Canada, Ben Galley is the award-winning author behind the gritty Emaneska Series, the Scarlet Star Trilogy, The Heart of Stone, voted Best Self-Published Fantasy novel in the 2017 Booknest Fantasy Awards, and a new dark fantasy series, the Chasing Graves Trilogy. Aside from writing and dreaming up lies to tell his readers, Ben works as a self-publishing consultant and tutor, helping fellow authors from all over the world to publish and sell their books since 2012.
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 at www.bengalley.com.
Also by Ben Galley: The Heart of Stone