“This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity.” ~ Joseph Stalin
This quote is indicative of the protagonist in this book, and the feelings he did not want to possess because of the pain they cause. This is the story of Task, a Wind Cut golem. An entity created in stone by magic to destroy the enemies of his maker and his kind. For 400 years Task has been an instrument of war and is weary of skinbags and their endless conflicts. It matters not to Task for whom he kills. He has been sold to and controlled by many masters. Most men fear him or hate him. At best they tolerate him. However, Task is unique. Upon his awakening in the world, the word he uttered to his maker Belerod, reveals a trait only Task possesses.
It was not the type of question those who created him had ever been asked before by a golem. There is more to him than was ever intended. He’s never known camaraderie or friendship in his existence. His one experience with it had left the violent beast inside him in control for a very long time.
Task has never since sought to delve into the morals of those for whom he kills, you could say he fights, but a 3-meter giant of stone really has no opposition. He can mow through an army of men like a scythe through wheat. He can be damaged, but he feels no pain. He may even lose some of the stone of which is made during a battle, as swords and weapons made of starsteel can cut into his stone body, but the magic that made Task allows him to call his broken shards back into himself as long as he is in close proximity to them.
So, immortal, weary, and longing to end his existence is how we find Task in The Heart of Stone. The commander of the Truehard army has acquired Task, controls him as his master, and intends to use him to end their decade of civil war against the Last Fading, dissenters to the crown. Hartlund is desolate and blasted by war, its people weary and dying, conscripted on the march as cannon fodder.
Here Task meets Lesky. A grubby little stable girl. Lesky is bold, fearless of Task, and unabashed in the questions she poses to him. She quickly decides they should become friends and for the first time in 400 years Task begins to long for something other than an end to his immortal existence.
Stand-alone books of this caliber are too few by far. Task’s uniquely non-human perspective, poses many questions about the human condition. Exploring his point of view was refreshing and thought-provoking. A highly entertaining read. Filled with magic and espionage. This story is much more than a tale of war, it is a questing into purpose. A purpose for living, and a purpose worth dying for. Presented from the point of view of a golem with a heart. It’s complex, violent, and intriguing. It will also damn near break your heart.
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His name is Farden.
They whisper that he’s dangerous.
Dangerous is only the half of it.
Something has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell. Something very old, and something very powerful. Five scholars are now dead, a country is once again on the brink of war, and the magick council is running out of time and options.
Entangled in a web of lies and politics and dragged halfway across icy Emaneska and back, Farden must unearth a secret even he doesn’t want to know, a secret that will shake the foundations of his world. Dragons, drugs, magick, death, and the deepest of betrayals await.
Welcome to Emaneska.
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About the author:
Ben Galley is the author behind the gritty and dark Emaneska Series, the western fantasy Scarlet Star Trilogy, and the new standalone novel, The Heart of Stone, which was voted Best Self-Published Novel in the 2017 Booknest Fantasy Awards. 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 books.
His website http://www.shelfhelp.info will tell you all you need to know about DIY self-publishing. Ben can be found attempting to be witty on Twitter or vlogging on YouTube @BenGalley, or loitering on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor.
*Top of page: Cover animation for the featured image was done by reader and fan HiuGregg u/HiuGregg at Reddit r/Fantasy.