“You don’t realize how human you are. All of us. Alabast, Ellia, me, Huff, even you, with a mind made out of stone. We all walk around pretendin’ we’re not broken in some way…But we are broken. And you know what? That’s fine. In fact, it’s perfect because it’s imperfect. Each crack, each blemish, each scar, whether of the skin or in the mind, they make us whole.”
Author: Ben Galley
Category: High Fantasy
Publication Date: March 30th, 2017
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Thank you to Ben Galley for sending me a copy of this book for review!
This is the first work by Ben Galley that I have read and just based on the skill at characterization that took place in this book, I definitely want to read more of his work.
The main character of this story is Task, a Wind-Cut Golem that was created over 400 years ago to be a weapon in the Diamond Wars. Since then he has been sold and traded to many masters, the latest of which is Captain Huff, leader of the Truehard Army. The nation of Hartlund has been under the shadow of a civil war for nearly a decade with one side supporting the ruling family and the monarchy while the other wants to overthrow the status quo (but don’t actually seem to have an idea of what to do past that).
Probably the best thing about this story was the non-human MC and Task’s characterization. He has spent nearly the entire time he has been alive coming to despise humans. After witnessing 400 years of war after war which amounts to little more than humans looking for excuses to kill each other, he has lost any semblance of respect for them he once had but still desires to find that one leader, or that one person, that will show him that not all humans are like that.
Huff is not this person. But what hope he does discover in humanity comes from the Dregs of the army, the lowest of the low. In them, he finds a reason to admire humanity at least a little. I really liked this concept that leaders are not always representative of their people as far as character. Task has only ever really interacted with the leaders of a given country or army and so that is who he has come to dislike so strongly. It is in the everyday people that he finds hope and affection for humanity.
This along with the questioning of who is right in this civil war, if anyone could possibly be right in a situation where people are dying by the hundreds, was honestly the thing that I liked most about this story.
Other than Task himself, I also really loved the characters Lesky and Alabast.
Lesky is a stable girl with spunk and honestly there is just nothing not to love about her. I thought she was a tad bit of a cliche character archetype but she really jumped off the page at me.
Alabast is the Knight of Dawn. Mostly, he reminded me of Galavant (from the ABC TV series of the same name). Hasn’t really done anything heroic in quite some time and mostly gets by on his reputation and copious amounts of alcohol. Again, this was a character that leapt off the page at me. I liked how he was supposed to be this famous knight but in reality he is a bit of a coward.
So there is clearly enough the really like about this book. There really wasn’t much bad but the things that I did not like seemed to stick out to me.
There is a villain in this story and I really don’t think this story needed one. The questioning of the morality of war and what it means to be human, whether you are actually a human or a magical golem, was honestly the heart of this story. The villain’s story is interwoven in the rest of it, with breadcrumbs here and there to make the reader wonder what exactly is going on with this person and what their motivations are but when it was all said and done, their story fell a bit flat, their motivations forced and the story itself extraneous.
It is possible that I felt this way though in part because I never felt like I had a good grasp on some of the aspects of the world. The Mission acts as a church, their god being the Architect, but I never felt like I had a good grasp of the Mission’s place in this world or even what the villainous character’s place within the Mission was.
While Task’s story ends in a more than satisfying way, I left this story a little perplexed as to how I felt about it. The writing is solid and the characterizations superb, but I felt like I was missing something. As I said though, I think I will be putting some more of Ben Galley’s work on my TBR because his characterizations were fantastic.