“No right. No wrong. Only war.”
Task has seen more than enough of war in his four hundred odd years. But it is what he was made for. He is bought and sold as a weapon and he has to obey his master. But this latest war and the friendship of a young girl are making him question things. Can a stone golem really change?
Despite the battle scenes, and there are several, there is a strong emotional core to this book. As a being whose sole purpose has been to be used as a weapon of war, Task has seen the worst humanity, or the ‘skin-bags’ as he calls them, has to offer. He has become disillusioned with the entire race but is forever bound to them by the magic that gives him life. As a thinking individual, he fully understands the consequences of his actions and the conflict between what he wants to believe and his lack of free will to resist orders drives a significant chunk of the book. It’s very well written and draws the reader into empathising with Task.
Task isn’t the only viewpoint character, even if he does carry the majority of the narrative. There are various other point-of-view characters, all of whom add their own perspectives on the war and, on Task himself. Each is different enough to add flavour and history to the world. Speaking of that, it seems like the author has invested enough time into the world-building that it could definitely be explored again, even though this is a stand-alone novel.
If I have any complaints about the book it is that it seemed like there was a bit too much crammed in at the end. This made things feel either rushed or like there were plots that may have originally been planned for another volume condensed into this one.
Even with that, The Heart of Stone is a very good book and one that I would definitely recommend to fantasy fans. And the audiobook version is great too, with the narrator changing tones and accents to portray the characters to great effect.