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The Obsidian Path #1

Black Stone Heart

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A broken man, Khraen awakens alone and lost. His stone heart has been shattered, littered across the world. With each piece, he regains some small shard of the man he once was.

He follows the trail, fragment by fragment, remembering his terrible past.

There was a woman.

There was a sword.

There was an end to sorrow.

Khraen walks the obsidian path.

380 pages, Paperback

First published March 29, 2020

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About the author

Michael R. Fletcher

38 books1,057 followers
Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author, a grilled cheese aficionado, and a whiskey-swilling reprobate. He spends his days choreographing his forklift musical (titled "Get Forked"), and using caffeine as a substitute for sanity. Any suggestions that he is actually Dyrk Ashton in disguise are all lies.

Blog (kinda): http://michaelrfletcher.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRFlet...

Twitter: @FletcherMR

Instagram: fletcher_michael_r

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 305 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
June 29, 2020
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars

Insanely brilliant. Fletcher did it again. Black Stone Heart is one of his best works so far, and Fletcher has finally crafted something as good as his Manifest Delusion series with this one.

I’m starting to feel that Fletcher is becoming the Sanderson of grimdark fantasy. No, none of their works are remotely similar to one another, what do I mean by this statement then? Fletcher keeps pouring out new series without completing them first! I should be annoyed by this fact, but I can’t possibly complain when all of them have been so good in their own way. Black Stone Heart is the first book The Obsidian Path series, and as expected, it’s another incredible grimdark fantasy. Also, if you can, do get the physical edition of this book; there are interior artworks by Stas Borodin, I’ve seen one, and it was gorgeous.

Black Stone Heart follows the journey of Khraen. Khraen wakes up alone and lost; his stone heart has been shattered and littered across the world. Every time he acquires a fragment of his heart, he gains a part of his memory back. Realizing this, Khraen walks the obsidian path to restore his memory. Excluding The Millenial Manifesto, I’ve read all of Fletcher’s work, and although it will sound unbelievable, I truly believe that Black Stone Heart is Fletcher’s most compulsively readable book so far. It’s such an imaginative grimdark fantasy that involves a lot of resonating discussions about memories, identities, xenophobia, consequences, choices, and the nature of evil.

“Every day we do the things we think we have to do. So rarely do we stop to question our choices. We don’t even see deciding that we ‘have to do something’ is itself a choice. We blunder through life, writing our failures and excuses as we go, defending every choice with justifications made up after the fact. The truth is, we never really consider the consequences.”

Fletcher has given Khraen such a unique and distinctive voice that made his first-person perspective narration so bloody compelling to read. Mysteries, dark humor, destruction, and moral dilemma filled the pages of this book; I can’t get enough of them. At the beginning of the novel, Khraen was pretty much an empty vessel, but a few people he met in his quest to unlock his past ended up changing him for the better. At least, that’s what he thinks. There are complications in attaining more of his former self, with each fragment gained Khraen recognizes that he may not be as good as his present self. The moral dilemma that Khraen faced felt so genuine; he can’t resist getting more of his fragments back, he needs to know, but knowing more could end up changing him back to his former self. Plus, there’s another possibility, it may not be the revelations of his past that changes him, it could be the cruel surroundings and racism he constantly met on his journey. After all, it’s utterly difficult to continue your intention of being kind-hearted when your environment never stops treating you with hatred. Will he ends up reverting back to his former self? Will he continue to do good despite everyone being hateful and judgmental towards the color of his skin? Read and find out for yourself!

“Hating all wizards for the actions of one or two is madness. If a woman breaks your heart, do you hate all women?”

Similar to Fletcher’s Manifest Delusion and City of Sacrifice series, Black Stone Heart contained world-building that, somehow, felt refreshing to read, especially in grimdark fantasy. I’m a bit conflicted on how much I should talk about here, the fantasy elements in the world-building I encountered—like magic, wizards, necromancer, and many more I won’t mention—were surprises to me that I didn’t know about upon reading and they made me amazed by the scope of the story. In order to make sure you retain that wow experience on your reads, I’m gonna close this section by saying the world-building—especially the history of the world—was incredibly bleak and magnificent.

“The past, I decided, was like that. Even the most cherished moments faded, became memories of memories, as we focused on the parts we liked, and forgot the rest. But where individual moments lacked clarity, knowledge was something different.

Honestly speaking, I haven’t read any grimdark fantasy for five months, I even thought that I was tired of the genre after finding myself disappointed with The Chronicles of the Black Company series by Glen Cook. As it turns out, I’ve just been reading something that’s not working for me. I can always count on Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, and Michael Fletcher to make me love reading the genre again. Black Stone Heart encapsulates why I love reading grimdark fantasy; it’s brutal, it’s merciless, it’s darkly humorous, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s brilliant. Before reading this novel, I kept on wishing that Fletcher would write the final book in Manifest Delusions first. But now, I don’t even mind if Fletcher suddenly stopped writing his other series and decided to focus on finishing this first. My curiosity to find out what happened next is on a ridiculously high level, and the overall quality of the book—in a different way—is at least as good as Beyond Redemption. Black Stone Heart feels like the beginning of a series that will stick with you long after you’re done reading it. I absolutely recommend this book to every grimdark fantasy readers.

“There are gods and demons.
There are heavens and hells.
But there is no fate,
there is no force of destiny.
Only you can decide who you are.
Your actions will define you.”

Official release date: 1st April 2020

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
Profile Image for Khalid Abdul-Mumin.
172 reviews73 followers
May 4, 2023
This has to be the best Fantasy read I've ever had the pleasure of coming across so far. The only ones that come close are: The Prince of Nothing series by Bakker,
The Children of Chaos by John C. Wright and The Worldbreaker Saga by Kameron Hurley.
"We fight to the end,” said the man. “To the death.”
The demon beside him nodded, wizened face sad.
Commands were sent out and the demonic host, bound in servitude to the demonologists, had no choice but to obey.
That night the Empire fell, and the world sank into a thousand years of darkness."
Phenomenal and highly immersive world-building, top notch characterisation, beautiful, poignant and macabre prose while at the same time self reflective due to the POV, and lastly, a solid magic system that fuses elements of speculative science all interwoven in a highly addictive plotline that keeps you wanting more after every single word uttered from my most beloved anti-hero.
"Something was wrong with the old man; he wasn’t quite the right shape. His skull, a little too oblong, his limbs a little too long. He looked stretched. Eyes, too large, oddly oval, glowed violet as he studied me. He blinked wrong, liquid, one eye at a time."
"The demon, in robes of ink, looked like a gaunt old man, bald, bent and near skeletal. “If we break that circle, it might crack the earth to its core. Lava. Ash in the sky for years.”

"Creatures called from a hundred different realities stood waiting. Massive beasts, some dwarfing even the Deredi giants, held formation beside winged nightmares from some distant hell. Many, hailing from closer realities looked human, differing only in some small detail. Purple skin, horns, claws, too many or two few fingers. With this army, he had bound the world under a single rule: His. And now, with this army, he would lose the world."
I would highly recommend this to readers of GrimDark Fantasy. Here are some beautiful quotes...

"The wizards might win. Tomorrow, the Empire might be theirs to rule. But it was also theirs to lose. And lose it, they would. Short-sighted, they had no idea just how much the Empire relied upon demons. Demons the wizards had no means of controlling."

"That night I dreamed of a strange hell where demons were immaterial spirits that could be bound to steel and iron. They thirsted for death, fed off the essence of the living as it fled the dying body.
I wanted to summon one, to bind it to a sword. But not just any demon, I wanted their master, the Lord of the entire Hell. He had a name, and it was the End of Sorrows."
"You. Will. Obey!
Fear. Terror.
The water elemental cowered. It remembered me. It remembered how I brought it here, how I bent it to my will.
“Fill the bowl,” I commanded. “If I ask for water, you give it.”
I opened my eyes to find the bowl filled with cool, clear water. I drank until I puked.
Then I drank more.
“Better?” asked Nhil.
“Yes,” I answered, voice still raw.
“Good,” he said. “Because we have another problem.”
I lay back, belly distended. “What’s that?”
“You’re still going to starve to death before long.”
“Oh.” I released a long belch. “Fuck.”
The explicit humor involved was a highly refreshing counter point to the deep existential dread, violence, gore, etc which the plot hinges on; The somewhat slow and fast pacing (towards the ending) was surprisingly helpful.
I didn’t like that word. So judgemental. One man’s evil was another’s righteous. The world wasn’t black and white, right and wrong. That was what the wizard’s preached. Evil, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder.
I was not evil.
Sure, but was there a way to sacrifice a soul that wasn’t evil?
There must be."
Another thing I found interesting was how the POV kept recovering his memory through dreams as visions of events millennia in the past as he continued recovering his shattered stone heart through walking the Obsidian Path.

Read: 16052022
Edit I: 02052023
Author 1 book358 followers
January 6, 2020
Read this one (or at least an early draft of it) back in early 2017. I've read over 100 books since then. None was better.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
January 28, 2021
* This is one of the finalists for the #SPFBO and I read it as a judge*

This story is dark and tells the tale of a man (well, kind of a man) called Khaern who wakes from within the ground with little memory of his life and legacy. He's sure that he needs to find out more, and begins to slowly do so, but his tale is filled with sadness, death and loss, and he's soon to find out far more than he bargained on.

I want to mention this is definitely a grimdark tale with things like rape, flaying, blood, death, decay and more thrown quite casually into conversation and sometimes into the plot too. This is not a book for the faint of heart, and so I want to be clear that you should only pick this up if those things won't bother you greatly.

Some of the magic in this is pretty cool I admit. We see demons, necromancy, wizards and magical items. Everything fits nicely into this fantastical world, and as you uncover the story we see more of the magic and the different paths.

This is definitely an anti-hero tale told from first person with Khaern as the one who is trying to uncover just who he was and who he is now. Along the way he meets Henka and Shalayn who are two very different women with two vastly different impressions they leave on him.

This really reminded me of books by Mark Lawrence and I certainly think if you've enjoyed his grimdark stories with Jorg then you'll probably enjoy this too. I did see some of the twists coming, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment at all and I found the character easy to engage with even though they do some dispicable things. I enjoyed the journey of discovery, even when it was a dark one.

Overall, the pacing is a lot of fun and the story flows smoothly. This was easy to hook me and quick to engage the imagination, and I definitely think it's one of my more appealing grimdark reads which I think has an awful lot of potential for the rest of the story.

I've heard from many friends and reviewers that this author has a fair few titles in other series and that they're all good and I can definitely believe that after trying this. I fully plan to pick up some more by this author to try out, as I am confident I'll enjoy them too.

This one ended up as a solid 4.5/5*s which is 9/10 for #SPBFO, making it one of my top for the competition this year :)
Profile Image for Rob Hayes.
Author 35 books1,364 followers
February 23, 2020
I was born in the 80s. I spent much of my childhood in the 80s. Thus, I have a deep love for the cinema of the 80s. I have fond memories of a certain film called Highlander. I'll never forget Sean Connery's complete lack of attempt to put on a Spanish accent, and neither will I forget Christopher Lambert's equal lack of attempt to put on a Scottish accent. And, of course, I can never forget the iconic "There can be only one!" moment from the end of the film. So why do I mention this? Well, have you ever wondered what Highlander might be like if it was written by Michael R. Fletcher? No? I bet you're considering it now though. Well, wonder no more because this is it!

Honestly, this book has such a strong, interesting premise. Khraen wakes up buried alive. A young man with no memories of who he once was, or how he ended up dead and buried six feet under. And also no idea how or why he has been brought back to life. But there's a hint to follow. He's not the only one. There are other Khraens travelling the world, and each one possesses a shard of obsidian in their heart. Whenever a Khraen consumes the obsidian shard, they regain some of their memories of who they once were. So Khraen... the Khraen we follow throughout the book, sets out to kill his other selves, consumes their shards, and remember who he is.

The world is one of magic permeating ever facet of life. Wizards rule, after overthrowing the old, evil demonologist emperor. There appear to be dozens of schools of magic, and each one has its own laws and capabilities. It's a varied world, Fletcher has created with heavens, hells, ancient ruins, and a mystery hidden at its core.

It's a strong start to a new series, and I look forward to seeing where Fletcher takes it next. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Adam.
374 reviews164 followers
November 6, 2020
I was originally introduced to Khraen in Fletcher's short story collection, released last year (among his twelve thousand other releases as of late). Khraen had several stories scattered throughout the book, each picking up at a different point in Khraen's second life. Fletcher prefaced these stories with an explanation that it is all based on a role-playing game that he and his friends played back in the day. (Likely the 1990's, when everyone was whack-o for THAC0.) So when I picked up Black Stone Heart, I thought I had a leg up on what I was in for.

Boy, was I wrong.

Fletch has introduced a dark, massive, and intriguing world that spans millennia. It toys with necromancy, human sacrifice, world-domination, and soul-cannibalism.

But at the at the stone-cold, black heart of it all, lies the question, what is evil? How is it defined? How can its relativity be judged from one man to another? And most interesting is watching the justification of Khraen's sliding scale of morality, as his "I'll never sink that low" to "well, I have to do that for the greater good" becomes a steeper and steeper decline. The horrifying and tricky part that Fletch pulls off is how he got me to nod my head in agreement with Khraen's actions along the way.

Maybe I shouldn't have admitted that out loud. But this is what Fletcher has excelled at throughout his writing career. He has a way of making the reader dig down into a part of us that we don't want to face, but we know exists, and brings feelings that we fear most into focus. How evil would we sink if backed into a corner? How far would be go to survive? To protect the ones we love?

But it's not all doom and gloom. It's a pretty kickass adventure, too. There's heists, and romance (of the Fletcher variety), and knife fights, and wizard magic, and artifacts, and demons, and all sorts of fun stuff.

So, read the book! It's good! And sets up some pretty badass things to come.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
576 reviews213 followers
June 24, 2020
Review now live at Grimdark Magazine

Black Stone Heart is the latest grimdark novel by Michael R. Fletcher. This is a brand-new series, The Obsidian Path, which is set in a bizarre new world unlike those of Fletcher’s other work. There were a couple of stories in A Collection of Obsessions, his short story collection, but this is the first full length novel.

As with all of Fletcher’s work, Black Stone Heart does not shy away from a steady diet of comfort food for the grimdark appetite. His recipe is equal parts violence, gritty happenings, grisly humor, and a dash of bad luck for flavoring.

Khraen just woke up, and he’s starving. He’s confused and disoriented and doesn’t remember much at all of his life before he’d been killed. All he knows now is that he is being drawn to the fragments of his obsidian heart that have been scattered about the world by whoever it was that murdered him.

During the course of this novel, we travel with Khraen as he tells the story in first person, learning what we can of his life before as he does, picking up a bit here and there with each fragment of his stone heart as he finds it. His memories return with each piece, as do his talents and his awareness of who and what he was.

This book is an interesting study of a dark character, a villain from most perspectives, as he comes to grip with what he was, what he is now, and what he hopes to become as he pieces himself back together bit by bit. Will he become the demonist emperor that ruled a vast empire over several millennia, or will he learn to be a better man through his experiences today and forced humility? Sorcery and necromancy abound in the battle for Khraen’s quest and the very nature of his soul.

With twists and turns and the general mindfuckery that we come to expect from Michael R. Fletcher, we go on this wild ride with Khraen, not knowing if we’ll be uplifted or disappointed, or both. Much as Khraen himself must prepare for who he becomes and the legacy he’d left behind during his previous life which hangs over him now. Can he be a better man? Does he truly want to?

Here’s a little example of Fletcher’s writing, the way he can twist a dark happening into a lively bit of humor, still grisly in its content but light in the tone as he spins it:

“After killing the farmer’s horses, we rode them south, exchanging our dead mounts for new ones whenever their appearance decayed to the point they became recognizable as corpses.”

Black Stone Heart doesn’t disappoint the returning Fletcher reader. It’s much different in scope and perspective than earlier work but keeps the consistent tone and writing flow that we’ve come to look forward to with each new story. New readers will be just as entertained and will likely flock to his back catalogue as soon as they finish this one. But all readers will probably wonder about Fletcher’s sanity before it’s all over.
Profile Image for Laura Tenfingers.
562 reviews88 followers
August 23, 2022
Another example of Fletcher's mind-blowing imagination, completely different from his other books except there's also plenty of blood and violence, and with his signature super unique concept at the core of the story.

Our MC wakes without memories but slowly discovers that pieces of his obsidian heart (literally) are scattered throughout the world and hold all of his missing memories. So we Quest. And we battle right and wrong, good and evil, destiny and free will, truth and lies. Leaving innumerable corpses in our wake.

I didn't give it 5 stars because our MC felt too neutral with an almost non-existent personality, making him less fun than previous Fletcher heroes. However, I'm guessing this is because he doesn't have memories and therefore isn't sure who he is. Hopefully he'll flesh out as we go.

Warning: have book 2 at the ready because this ends in a major cliffhanger and you'll want to be prepared.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
780 reviews130 followers
December 9, 2022
I expected better. I adored Fletcher's Beyond Redemption and sought out its self-published sequel The Mirror’s Truth, for which he employed the same array of editors and critiquers to produce a book of indistinguishable quality from the traditionally-published original. This book lacked the acknowledgements section that could have illuminated whether the same quality-enhancement steps were employed. I regret this, because my reaction throughout the book was that it just felt too self-published.

It's got a good concept, one that reminded me of the offbeat adventure gamebook Creature of Havoc: a blank slate of a man awakes, at first driven by instinct, then gradually learning more about his world and how he came to be where and what he was at the beginning. It seemed a cool way to worldbuild, letting the reader learn the very basics about the world along with the main character through a natural process. I liked his discovery process and need to disguise his ignorance when we and he learn that, say, mimes have ruled the world for the past 300 years (not a true fact from the book, don't worry), and where the hell have you been that you don't know this?

Sadly the story didn't live up to its potential. The main character barely seemed to develop except in his knowledge of things long lost. He has an ongoing internal ethical debate ("Am I the bad guy?") that doesn't progress; he merely recirculates the same thoughts ad nauseum. The plot progression has a certain litRPG quality to it, which is fine if that's your bag but it doesn't make for great epic fantasy. Technically it's a progression fantasy, a term some apply to stories featuring significant character power growth, but the character barely uses the knowledge and abilities that level him up from his original state. Overall the story arc felt very flat, with a couple of unsurprising twists near the end in place of a satisfying payoff. I can see potential in the sequels for exciting story, brutality, and mind-blowing magic, but I didn't have a good enough experience to push me forward.

I also did not care for the prose. It wasn't just the first-person narration, which is rarely my first choice but not a problem by itself (my beloved Assassin's Apprentice employs it, after all). In this case, I thought the writing was too plain. I'm not a fan of flowery description and generally prefer shorter, simpler sentences, but for this book the prose bored me, with a few isolated exceptions. I entertained the theory that it would mirror the protagonist's growth and become more evocative as he evolved, but this didn't pan out. I found myself fondly missing the Germanic terms that flavoured the author's Manifest Delusions series; this book could have used some of that linguistic flair.

Faith in author shaken but not shattered; maybe I'll try his other series someday. I wish I could give this one at least 3 stars but the "I liked it" designation would be dishonest.
Profile Image for FanFiAddict.
548 reviews133 followers
April 4, 2020
Black Stone Heart is Fletcher's best novel to date, and that is really saying something coming from someone who can't stop talking about Beyond Redemption.

An unforgettable story; one that cuts with the sharpest of blades and heals with the finest of salves. You will not be unmoved.

Khraen may be one of the best protagonists to hit the fantasy scene since Logen Ninefingers.

I had the opportunity to read Black Stone Heart (The Obsidian Path #1) a couple of years ago before it even had a title. The fact that I still remember every aspect of this story should tell you how much of an impact it had on me; not only an immersive read, but an emotionally charged one.
Profile Image for Mili.
386 reviews33 followers
March 23, 2020
A new series by Michael R Fletcher!! This one follows Khraen. We experience the world through his eyes, just one POV. Khraen wakes up under the earth and crawls out, remembering nothing. Some instincts are left, things at the tip of his tongue that he can't seem to reach. And a strange urge, a tug towards something farther away. He finds out he needs to collect these black shards, pieces of his heart that contain memory of who he was. And so he starts his journey, following that strange tug. The shards are not just loose somewhere some are protected, others tucked into a heart. It isn't easy, while he slowly relearns how to be around other people and finding out things about his past he meets a woman who he falls in love with. He is stuck in a 19 year old body and has urges. I didn't entirely connect with this 19 year old body being distracted by sexual urges and exploring ! It wasn't bad either it did go easily in the flow of the story. Subjective matter here. It was a bit much for me. Aside from that there was also loads of magic, wizards....Khraen loaths them. And necromancers with awesome dead companions. I love that we have a necromancer as a larger character in the plot as well. And at some point demons. While Khraen collects more and more about himself he struggles with his past self. He doesn't want to be evil and kill, should he collect all the stones? Will he change when he remembers everything, is it unavoidable to kill...

The story kept me hooked! It started so mysterious with Khraen knowing little of who we was, and as a reader knowing nothing about the world and the MC. It was fun to start collecting his memories, as always the writing is awesome! Loved the gore which is always delivered by Fletcher, fking loved it again! Excited for more demons and Khraen puzzling himself out more. Hope we get some more Nhil, his demon friend from what I remember ( brain mush and headache makes a mess while reading, hence adding some more to the review now ). And I am curious who broke his heart into pieces and hid them away.
Profile Image for Arundeepak J.
105 reviews39 followers
July 2, 2022

A fast paced and well written grimdark novel...

Black stone heart, first entry in The Obsidian Path series follows the journey of Khraen who wakes up after a millennia with no past memories and soon finds out that his obsidian heart has been shattered into pieces and has been spread throughout the world. When he consume each obsidian pieces he regains a sliver of his past. On this journey of literal self discovery (😅) he met Shalayn and Henka who leaves a very distinct impression on him and raises a question within himself "Does he want to be his past self ?"

Fair warning though, this book is Dark like really really dark. Brutal killings, Flaying, Sacrifices and much more are mentioned in this book. But I personally believe its necessary for this book to get that immersive feeling of this brutal world.

The author's writing was simple and elegant and the pacing was just spectacular, not a single page felt out of place or unnecessary. Pacing was definitely the strongest aspect of this book without a doubt.

The main character Khraen was written in a way that makes you question his every decisions especially in the last 100 pages but makes you root for him nonetheless. But for the supporting characters, I felt they could've been fleshed out more.

Only thing that bothered me about this book is the revelations. I saw almost all of the revelation a mile ago but it didn't hinder my reading experience at all.

To sum it up, Black stone heart is a near perfect grimdark novel which leaves a lot of territories to be covered in the sequels that I'm too eager to start next.
Profile Image for Julia Sarene.
1,251 reviews131 followers
March 20, 2020
In “Black Stone Heart” Michael Fletcher has delivered a really dark story that gets deeper the longer you’re in its grasp. Khraen, the main character, starts off knowing basically nothing about himself or the wider world. He is looking for obsidian shards that seem to be holding the secrets of his past. On that quest he slowly starts to explore and learn not just about what happened before, but also about the world. And while we get to follow his plot, and his world, his distinctive voice get stronger and stronger until it feels like you really are inside the story. I especially liked how Khraen feels like a piece of unworked clay and his personality only slowly evolves. Not a bad person, but finding himself alone and without memory he also doesn’t have any imprinted moral code, so it’s very intriguing to see how this character is gaining his own personality. The – expected since this is a book by Michael R. Fletcher – descent into darkness is so naturally and gradually done that you hardly notice how you start to root for someone who definitely is not a hero. But he’s just doing what the situation demands, isn’t he? Is he?

Who was I? The kind of person who thought only of themselves? The kind of person who abandoned those in need?
I realized I’d asked the wrong question. Why let my unknown past define me?
It wasn’t, ‘Who was I?’ but rather, ‘Who am I?’
And still, I hesitated.

Once again Michael Fletcher manages to spellbind you into this grimdark spiral of madness, and yet it feels so very fluent and logical it makes you take a double take at your own thoughts and emotions. The story is perfectly balanced on a fine edge, it holds the reader’s attention all the way as the characters grow, develop and come alive in your mind.

“Black Stone Heart” is set in a medieval style world with wizards, necromancers and demons. It’s familiar enough to allow the reader to dive right in, and yet has enough new things to discover, so it always keeps up the interest. And it isn’t limited to just that one plane of existence either…

I can’t recommend this one enough for anyone who likes a book without a clear black and white (or really any black and white) world, and isn’t squeamish about gore, sex and violence in their books.
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
581 reviews262 followers
February 21, 2023
“Maybe I worried about nothing. Maybe there was no invisible hand hiding me along this obsidian path”.

Muchas veces lees un libro cuando menos te lo esperas y justamente me ha pasado con este en concreto. A decir verdad, no pensaba leerlo hasta pasado un buen tiempo, sobre todo porque tengo mil trilogías abiertas y quien me conoce sabe que soy un desastre. Sin embargo, se me cruzaron los cables y lo empecé de casualidad cuando leí el prologo y no me parecía que fuese tan difícil de leer en inglés.

I didn’t like that word. So judgemental. One man’s evil was another’s righteous. The world wasn’t black or white, right and wrong. That was what the wizard’s preached. Evil, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder. ”

Esta novela y, desgraciadamente ninguna de este autor se encuentra traducida al español. Ahora, en cuanto al nivel de inglés de la novela, yo lo encuadro en un B2 (intermedio-avanzado). Justamente, tenía la premisa que sería mucho más denso y complicado, sin embargo, como dije al inicio, fue una sorpresa ver que en realidad era más “fácil” de lo esperado. Me explico: el libro está contado en forma de diario desde el punto de vista del protagonista, no utiliza un vocabulario especifico de la novela ni tampoco se extiende en descripciones minuciosas. Así que, para aquellos que está acostumbrados a leer en inglés o están adentrándose en novelas de este tipo se las recomiendo. Al resto, espero que pronto se presente una traducción.

“Nothing. That’s what scares me. Nothing is more terrifying than nothing. Sometimes I want it, I crave it. And end. But I can’t. I’m too scared. How long I would lie there, bones in the earth, helpless, alone, waiting? What if I never became nothing? What if I was stuck there forever, slowly sinking deeper, further from the light and life of the world, unable to return? I can’t chance it. I need purpose”.

Ahora, en cuanto a la novela en sí, me gustaría decir muchas cosas, pero, siento que destriparía parte de la historia y lo que esconde. Así que voy a intentar ser lo más breve posible porque lo dicho siento que cualquier cosa que se diga pueda considerarse como “spoiler” sobre todo para mí, que a la mínima que se me comenté algo sobre el contenido del libro, por muy banal que sea me molesta. Llámenme “rancia” como se diría coloquialmente, pero soy así y es algo que no soporto.

Asimismo, la historia es interesante y me ha parecido bastante original. Lo único es que me ha faltado un mapa, así como un poco más de desarrollo del wordbuilding. Sin embargo, lo que más destaco son los personajes, nunca me había encontrado con unos personajes tan grises, y yo que pensaba que los de La Primera Ley o los de La Compañía Negra lo eran, pero estos igual están a un nivel superior. Además, me puede que el protagonista se plantee si sus actos son buenos o malos moralmente y las reflexiones sobre ello.

“Pherhaps I can’t win, but I can make their victory expensive. Maybe I can cost them everything”.

En cuanto al desarrollo del argumento se me ha hecho en algún parte un poco lento al mismo tiempo que me esperaba otra cosa. Asimismo, algunos giros de la novela me los he visto venir, mientras que otros no me los quería esperar porque me hubieran parecido demasiado morbosos, por así decirlo. Con eso no digo nada, pero al mismo tiempo lo digo todo (cuando lean la novela me entenderán).

“Maybe even the worst people need someone, need to know they aren’t alone in this world”.

No le pongo las cinco estrellas porque como he dicho antes ha habido cosas que me han faltado, pero me lo he pasado bien leyéndolo. Supongo que ha sido un aire fresco de tanta novela romántica últimamente. Aunque, a decir verdad, me hubiera gustado haberlo leído en otro momento porque no me encuentro en mi mejor momento, pero bueno, lo hecho, hecho está.

“There’s no end to sorrow”.
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,307 reviews209 followers
February 24, 2020
When Khraen wakes up, he has almost no memories of his past. It included violence, murder, and hacking his own chest open but other than that? Hard to say.

He doesn’t act like a human being; rather as a savage creature focused on survival, living off bugs and roots. Only after finding an obsidian shard that pierces his skin and finds its way to his heart, he regains parts of his identity.

His integration into the local society gets tricky, especially that he has no marketable skills beyond killing children and women. His actions stem from the urge to follow the remaining shards of his heart scattered around the world. After getting each shard Khraen undergoes a painful process of integration during which he regains some memories of the past. And with them comes a growing sense of unease - it’s possible people hate him for a reason other than the color of his skin. It’s possible his past actions had disastrous consequences.

With its breakneck pace, excellent banter, wild twists and reveals, Black Stone Hearts bullies you into liking it. There’s no time not to. Things happen and they are exciting. Yes, I know that I write vaguely about this book but I do it out of a desire not to spoil it. The plot is fairly simple (protagonist and narrator regains parts of his heart, gets drunk and laid, regains his memories, travels to impossible places, meets old friends and foes, discovers his violent past) and most of the fun comes from experiencing events with Khraen and seeing how they change him. Fletcher has a knack for characterization and, surprisingly, for crafting entertaining and dark comedy. It’s a dark book and yet it made me laugh multiple times.

He brilliantly captures the change of Khraen’s voice as he ponders on his identity and the essence of identity in general. Each new Shard allows Khraen to reassemble himself and regain his memories. If you’ve already read Fletcher, you know better than to expect happy endings and uplifting mood. Here, though, the darker side of the story hides behind the darkly humorous voice.

Make no mistake, Khraen and his companions aren’t good guys (although one question Fletcher asks is about the nature of evil - is a predator evil when it feeds itself to survive?). One of them, a necromancer, harvests people to repair herself. She treats people as a source of parts.

Black Stone Heart is, above all, addictive and compulsively readable - it forced me to prolong my lunch as much as I dared because I couldn’t bear to stop reading it. If anything depended on me, I would forbid Fletcher to work on anything but The Obsidian Path series. I need the sequel.

It’s clear I’m biased. For the sake of objectivity, I have to say it probably won’t appeal to readers tired of over-the-topness, violence, and a certain level of predictability (those two final surprises weren’t really exactly shocking). I loved it too much to care, though, and felt fully immersed in the narrative.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 18 books431 followers
January 8, 2020
I just finished editing this book and to say it kicked my ass (in the best way) is an understatement. This book is AMAZING and INTENSE and DARK and WEIRD and all those delightful things that Fletcher is known for. However, after reading a whole bunch of his books, and editing a few others, I've come to the conclusion that this is his best book yet.

I can't stop thinking about it, to be quiet honest with you, and I'm frankly a bit pissed off at him that book two isn't ready to be read yet. Selfish, I know, but SERIOUSLY. Dude has to write something THIS GOOD and keep me waiting to see what happens next? Fletcher, I protest the injustice.
Profile Image for Carrie Chi Lough.
65 reviews4 followers
November 16, 2020
Black Stone Heart deserves more than the five stars that the rating scale is limited by. Everything that I love about Fletcher's stories-twisted characters, the intricate world-building, and his imagination - is amplified tenfold in his new series. If you enjoy grimdark, this book should be in your library.

The measure of one's wickedness lies somewhere between their victim's perspective and their own justification. Black Stone Heart is the story of self-discovery within violence and profound immorality. It was a very unique experience reading a character that has been reduced to his most rudimentary foundation. Khraen has been reborn but stripped of his memories and beliefs. As he continues to learn more about his past, his developing character clashes between the man he was and who he desperately wants to be. His character arch explores the bargaining tactics, the lies used to rationalize acts of war.

The land of Taramlae is etched into my mind. It is not all magic that makes this world distinctive, it is the people's hostility and unified xenophobia. With their fears deeply rooted in their own dark history, Khraen is marked and targeted by their discrimination. The scattered pieces of his heart reveal his past, but it is Taramlae's hatred that imbeds into his character.
Profile Image for Nathan.
72 reviews21 followers
May 13, 2022
BOOKS LIKE THIS ARE WHY I READ FANTASY! This is the genre that gives you the ability to do virtually whatever you want, and Fletcher’s imagination knows no bounds. Earlier this year I read the 3 available Manifest Delusions books, then later read Ghosts of Tomorrow. The Manifest Delusions series instantly put Fletcher in my highest tier of authors, and Ghosts of Tomorrow did not disappoint either. I held back on reading the rest of his books because I did not want to run out. But here I am, because I have no self control, and I do not regret it one bit.

I feel like the best way to read this book is to know as little as possible (I didn’t even read the synopsis, I saw Fletcher’s name and said “I’m in!”). I would just give the warning that this book can get pretty horrific and gross, which I happen to love in my fiction. Beyond that, it is hard to describe what exactly makes this book click for me, because I really just find myself loving every decision Fletcher makes. If you’re a lover of dark fantasy and don’t mind following a detestable (but fascinating) protagonist, I would call this a must read. And make sure you check out the metal songs he has made for the book on YouTube. Yeah you read that right… I mean how cool is this guy?
Profile Image for Filip.
465 reviews48 followers
July 14, 2020
Black Stone Heart is a captivating grimdark fantasy novel, driven by a morally compromised protagonist in an ambitious setting that feels at once comfortable and arrestingly original.

Black Stone Heart tells the story of Khraen, a young man with the fragmented memories of a world and empire both long-gone. When we first meet Khraen, he is an animal, driven by instinct and ruled by the basic need to survive, no matter the cost. His progression towards something more makes for an engaging initial character arc, though his objective is altogether different – the reconstruction of his obsidian heart. Each piece is a piece of the puzzle of Khraen’s former life, revealing to him lost knowledge and granting him glimpses of a life that used to be.

Despite chasing the shards of his heart, Khraen’s great capacity for change is the driving factor of this novel—I suspect it will permeate the rest of the series, as well. The supporting characters play a part in this, driving Khraen towards or away from his old self. Fletcher has assembled quite the cast – a necromancer who stirs something up in our poor lad’s memories; a caravan guard who treats Khraen like a human being despite the midnight colour of his skin; an old friend who knows everything about Khraen’s former life but is a bit stand-offish when it comes to sharing; and plenty of mages, all of whom Khraen hates in a way that defies reason itself. Strange, that – as he is the victim of just such hatred himself. Everyone in the North, where Khraen awakens, sees the colour of his skin as a mark of the stain of his soul. Derided and loathed, Khraen doesn’t have much of a reason to like the society he discovers in this brand-new world.

This society is one ruled by wizards, those with the ability to stir chaos up and alter the very fabric of reality. But wizards are only one of many magic users – necromancers, I have mentioned, but there are also elementalists, sorcerers, and warlocks. These are schools of magic familiar to anyone who has spent more than an afternoon exploring role-playing games in the vein of D&D, but Fletcher puts a twist on each of them, managing to make them his own in the process, thanks in great part to the visceral, bone-chilling impact that spell-working has across the novel.

Demonology and its myriad practices in particular open up an engaging moral debate about the price of societal efficiency and progress, about crime and punishment, and the horrific cost of power. This practice forces Khraen to face certain aspects of himself, facets which are appalling and frightening for anyone to come to grips with – woven here with great skill by Fletcher.

My big issue with Black Stone Heart is about events that lead up to the finale and certain revelations that are made – twists I saw coming from a mile off. Khraen, who is portrayed as clever if somewhat naive, is blindsided by one revelation after another, discoveries that anyone in his shoes might’ve—should have—guessed at. For a book that contained so many pleasant surprises, the finale came across as a little guided, a little lacking in substance for the sake of shock value.

When I came to the end of my listen-through of Black Stone Heart, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between it and Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy in one aspect: Fletcher’s work echoes that theme so agonizingly prevalent in Abercrombie, in that people are indeed capable of great change…but they’re as likely to revert to who they used to be than make of themselves something new. The Obsidian Path is just getting started, however – and I am eager to see what direction it will go on before the final stop in this new series.

Listening to the audiobook narration, done by Fletcher himself, is the most engrossed I’ve been with an audiobook in months. The gravelly voice Fletcher opens with eventually reveals a stunning array of nuance –remarkable work, and fun to no end. The audiobook opens and closes with two pieces of original music performed by Fletcher and his band, which did a surprisingly good job of setting the mood for those opening chapters.

Black Stone Heart was riveting, pure and simple. It might be a little flawed—but that does not take away from my excitement at seeing Khraen’s journey continued.

You’ll enjoy this one if you:

*Like all things grimdark—the murdery bits, the stabby-stabby times, the people popping off in clouds of blood like angry little zits;
*Are looking for an actionable manual on demonology;
*Enjoy All Things Dark and Evil™;
*And more! Prob’ly.
Profile Image for kartik narayanan.
735 reviews203 followers
February 23, 2021
tl;dr: 'Black Stone Heart' is a brutal, fast-paced, and engrossing story that you should not miss.

Khraen, our protagonist, wakes up in a grave with no memories of his life. He discovers that there are people who look exactly like him, and who carry an obsidian piece in their heart. Every time he consumes this piece, after killing them, he regains some memories of who he was. The more time he spends in the world, the more he realizes how the population despises him for his dark skin. What Khraen does is covered in part in this book, the first in a new grimdark fantasy trilogy from Michael R. Fletcher.

Black Stone Heart is one of those rare books that will demand your attention from the start and never let's go. You will keep thinking 'one more page, and then I will sleep'. But that one page turns into many; you discover that the book is over and that its 3 AM. You will lie awake thinking about the book and the characters, and possibly a bit miffed because the sequel is not out yet. Yes, Black Stone Heart is that kind of book.

There are multiple reasons for it - the express pacing, the writing, the characters and the moral dilemmas. I am not sure if there is an element of storytelling that the author has not done well. Well, maybe the plot could have been a bit more original and a little less predictable towards the end. But, those two nitpicks will apply only to long-time jaded readers of fantasy like me. The rest of us will find it refreshingly original.
Khraen is the stand-out character, of course. Khraen is in part an archetype who tries to answer two age-old questions.

Why do people end up behaving the way they do - is it nature, or is it nurture? Do people turn out to be good or evil because of their upbringing and environment or it in their innate character to be either one. Khraen struggles with the moral implications of whatever memories he has. He is not able to comprehend how he turned out to be the way he remembers and is repelled by his actions in his memories. But then, the more people treat him like an outcast, the more anger and resentment he starts to feel. The question remains - knowing what little he does, will he continue down the path which will make him like his memories or does he have the freedom and choice to be something else in a cruel world. I found this aspect of the story fascinating. Michael Fletcher portrays this brilliantly. We can see how easy it is for someone to start down the slippery slope where violence justifies violence and evil begets evil. Even though Khraen tries hard to be decent, the environment and the action of the system & people makes him lash out.

The second question is 'What is the nature of evil?'. Is a wolf evil for killing rabbits? Is a predator evil for killing & eating its prey? Unfortunately, I didn't subscribe to the author's point of view concerning this question. He draws a metaphor between an animal in nature and human beings. Obviously, evil as a concept applies only to thinking beings, who chose to behave in an immoral fashion even though they have a choice not to. So there is no question that a necromancer who has chosen to be one or a demonologist who decides to trade in souls, is evil. But the nuance here is what if they do so to protect someone else? Like I said before, I didn't find this argument convincing. But the author does a fantastic job of showing how a small evil deed makes it easier to accept a larger one. Khraen is presented with choices which forced him to choose between evils.

There are more subtle questions posed here. Memories make a person. But, which memories are the priority and is the order important? Khraen's character is dealing with all of these existential questions, and it makes him fascinating. Michael Fletcher ensures that Khraen doesn't become angst-ridden emo but keeps his internal monologue engrossing.

The world-building is above average too. It has the usual share of magic and fantasy tropes, but some elements make it unique that I do not want to spoil here. There are shades of 'The Wheel of Time' as well as 'The Sword of Truth'. The book is also quite brutal and graphic. So be warned. It is not for the squeamish.

A series like 'The Rakkan Conquest' has a similar plot-line - the protagonist waking up with no memories of their past life. But where that series goes clearly in one direction, 'Black Stone Heart' is keeping me guessing.

In conclusion, Black Stone Heart is a brilliant grimdark fantasy. I strongly recommend it.
Profile Image for Dominic.
177 reviews353 followers
March 25, 2023
This was a bit of an odd read for me, probably because it wasn't really what I was expecting. Saying that though, the synopsis doesn't really give you much to go on and the back of the book has even fewer clues, so perhaps I don't know what it was that I was actually expecting in the first place.

There was some weird and interesting stuff in here, in particular with the necromancy, but I quite like the side of the power that was on show here – I felt it was quite different and definitely intriguing.

It's the sort of book that makes you have to piece everything together as you go, with a character who is very much in the dark to start off with. This allowed for some nice little reveals towards the end that I thought worked quite well.

I've heard this called a "romantic grimdark comedy", but I didn't really get any of those individual elements from reading it, or at least not nearly enough to use them as labels for the book. It was however, quite an interesting read overall.
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,041 followers
May 23, 2021
Another damn entertaining story from one of my favorite authors. Michael Fletcher always finds the right blend of madness and normalcy to make me want more of his brand of fantasy.
460 reviews396 followers
September 18, 2020
If you’ve read Fletcher’s stuff before, you’ll know that he has a tendency to write grimdark books full of fucked up shit. This is not an exception to that rule, no rainbows and sunshine here.

The MC, Khraen, is a demonologist, which are known for common use of human sacrifice. Khraen is a distinctive and memorable character for a lot of reasons. I wouldn’t describe him as an anti-hero, I would say he’s straight up a villain. He’s a quite a different type of villain than I’m used to, though. Khraen has had his heart broken into pieces and scattered throughout the world, and because of that he’s suffering from amnesia in the beginning of the book and is almost animal-like in nature. However, each time he finds a piece of his heart, he restores a bit of himself and his memories. This is the second book in a row where the main character has amnesia – which is strange since I haven’t read one of those kinds of books in ages..

He’s eventually paired up with a necromancer named Henke, who needs human blood for her magic and self-maintenance. Henke is pretty, fascinated with Khraen, and is stone cold undead. She feels no pain physically, and can raise animals as well as humans from the dead – which she can then bend to her will. What’s even more bleak about this is that the humans she raises from the dead aren’t mindless zombies. They remember everything from their lives, and have minds of their own and yet they have no willpower… they are completely enslaved. It’s pretty fascinating to watch a villainous character grapple with how evil they are… with each piece of his heart that gets returned he becomes more ruthless. He remembers more of the atrocities he’s committed in his past which takes him further down the rabbit hole of being a villain. All the while he’s aware on some level that he’s becoming more fucked up and wants to change it, but he’s also detached and accepting of horrific acts of violence. This whole book has the main character wrestling with his morality. He tries to be the ‘better’ person this time around and make some genuinely benevolent choices, but he inevitably ends up doing the evil thing but doesn’t seem to care much. It’s a slow progression from bad to worse as he and his partner become more powerful and remember more things. He hates wizards, a lot. Every time he sees one he wants to kill them and burn down their towers and wreak havoc on them. He can’t remember why for most of the first half of the book.

The world building is as dark as the characters which makes this a deeply grimdark book. There are cities that were once powered by demons, and these demons are summoned from other dimensions through mass human sacrifice. There are other moments where I was like WTF …Henke wouldn’t die if she was cut into pieces…it’s tough to kill a necromancer. But, that doesn’t mean an enemy can’t render them harmless. If Henke gets cut into pieces and buried she will just sit there in a conscious state and rot away until the end of time, slowly sinking into the earth, buried forever in blackness and loneliness losing grip on her sanity. WTF even is that? Christ. There’s a lot of sexy time between MC and Henke, and in order for her to ‘feel warm’ she has to use human blood to restore herself. Otherwise she’s cold dead flesh, so like, necrophilia is sort of a thing here too, lol.

The prose in this was pretty great, I can’t speak to typos or errors since I listened to the audio, but the dialogue was natural and fluid. It was descriptive enough to create a world but not so much so that it slowed down the story. As far as originality, it’s not that the concept of wizards vs evil necromancers is a new thing, but I haven’t seen it from the necromancer’s point of view before, so in that way it felt fresh.

I would recommend this one for fans of grimdark, villain POVs, grim and bleak worlds, necromancy, fast reads, and those who listen to audiobooks.

This book is currently a semifinalist over on Rockstarlit Book Asylum and is awaiting a full review from them. I am not the team judging this book, this was on my review request list for months, I just haven’t had time to get around to it before now. I am not leaving ratings for books outside my batch that are still in the running for SPFBO, opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Brent.
398 reviews43 followers
August 26, 2022
Repetitive and Navel Gazing

I enjoyed a lot of the aspects of this book. It leaned into its grimdark nature giving us a character who is pretty much a murderous asshole from page 1. I also enjoyed the magical elements in this world.

However, both of those things were kind of dragged down for me by the execution of the story. The narrative is overly repetitive where it feels like it hits the same story beats over and over and over again. Ditto for the characterization. I don't know how many times we had to get inner thoughts from the main character about his conflicted nature. My best estimate is approximately 10,000. I found myself saying "Dude you murdered someone in cold blood right at the beginning. You're a homicidal maniac. Just embrace it." Fletcher had a similar issue with how often we are told people at large dislike the main character because of his skin color. It feels like he belabors this point to absurdity.

Overall I would say I liked this more than I disliked it but just barely. The magic and world are pretty cool as well as the backstory we slowly learn, but the plot and characters seem pretty thin. Add in the writing tics that annoyed me and I don't think I'll be picking up book 2.
Profile Image for Lena.
238 reviews26 followers
September 5, 2021

Mу gritty little heart is so happy. This book was fantastic. This is dark fantary at its best. It has everything you could ask for. A very odd beginning with the introduction made by someone you assume is the protagonist but at the start of the novel you don't really understand how they can be the same person, until the end, a gritty atmosphere, a complex magic system, a wonderful world-building. Everything and everyone in the protagonist's path is key to his becomming what he becomes. This book explores difficult topics and really makes you think but really think. I really felt for Khraen throughout the book, especially because of how others just assumed he was evil because of the color of his skin, and how much he tried to be good in a world that fear and rejected him. I loved his relationship with Shalayn, so different from the one he has with Henka (that I don't really like at all btw). I didn't like Henka at all, she is the kind of person I avoid at all cost, she's so manipulative and selfish, and well, not a good person. I thoroughly loved the very end, and I will be continuing with the series pretty soon. I wanna know how this story continues.
Profile Image for Stephen.
443 reviews51 followers
August 2, 2020
I am a huge Fletcher fan. His books are typically action packed and wildly inventive. Beyond Redemption in particular is fantastic.

What happened here? The story is a conventional wizards and demons fantasy. Not much new. The narrative is slow, godawful repetitive, and boring. I almost tossed this aside several times, holding on only because Fletcher was certain to to deliver something amazing at some point, right? In this case, no. Pick up any of Fletcher’s other books and be wildly entertained. Don't know what happened here but skip this train wreck. One star only because I liked the character Shalayn.
Profile Image for Lina.
84 reviews38 followers
April 18, 2020
The only thing that is keeping me sane during quarantine are amazing dark fantasy releases.

4 stars

When I picked up this book, I had no idea what to expect – I’ve been wanting to read M.R.Fletcher’s ‘Beyond Redemption’ for a while now, but never got my hands on it (that’s changing very soon!).
So, this was a pleasant surprise, because ‘Black Stone Heart’ turned out to be so good! I don’t know why nobody’s talking about it?
In this quest story we follow the main character, who wakes up buried alive in the middle of nowhere, hungry, cold and has no recollection of what happened prior to his awakening. What he soon finds out, though, is that there are other versions of him wandering around, each having a piece of obsidian in their heart that holds parts of his persona (memories of his past).
So, he sets out on a mission to find the other shards of his broken heart and re-discover his identity and history, only guided by unexplainable desires.
The greatest strength of this trope (amnesia) is that the reader and the character start from the same point – we get to know the world with the mc. (Such a clever way to explain a vast world with complicated history without info-dumping.)
As I broached the subject of the world-building: the world might seem a bit overwhelming at first, as there are gods, demons (who used to actively interact with people), hence, also parallels worlds, where they dwell, necromancers, elementalists, shamans, sorcerers, wizards, demonologists (also dragons; mountains and lakes can be woken up and driven into fury, Kraken can be summoned,too)
Don’t worry ��� the differences between all those types of magic wielders get explained early on.
Not to go into much detail, but since the time the mc was alive (10000 years ago) the order of things has changed:
Now, the wizards rule the world. People blindly believe everything they say, but victors write the history that shows them in a good light. (Reminded me of Orwell’s 1984)
As there’s nobody else to remember what the world used to be like before the wizards’ reign, nobody really doubts whether wizards are those men of high moral standing they claim to be or not.
And here comes our MC.
As he is exploring the world and slowly but persistently assembling the bits and pieces of his memory, the MC discovers the pretty lies wizards feed to everybody else and oh boy, he won’t put up with it.
His journey isn’t as simple as you would expect for just a traveller, because racism exists in this world, too. There are racial prejudices, because POC are thought to be ‘’stained’’= related to demonologists, who ruled a prosperous empire thousands of years ago, but required souls to feed the demons.
Along the way, he is joined by companions (all women, who he has sex with), gets betrayed and lost in self-doubt (as inside him there is an ongoing fight between who he is now and who he used to be.)
Will he repeat the same mistakes? We’re to find out.
Also, the mc has a magical ability of detecting whether someone is over 19 or not 😉 (Idk what is so distinct about 19-year-olds but whatever)
About the mc: His identity gets revealed halfway into the book, but I decided not to even mention his name, because it’s much more fun to find everything out yourself.
I think this book is marketed as adult fantasy, so expect relatively descriptive sex scenes and (not relatively) graphic violence.

Spoler-y section:

Devouring new shards of his heart and recollecting his memories, the MC starts gradually changing, which leads to moral debates within himself as he uncovers the dark truth (of his past deeds and his abilities.)
Hence, throughout the book, the question of whether the ends justify the means arises frequently, and the author lets you be the judge.

Is the mc redeemable? That's for you to decide.

There wasn’t a single massive plot twist at the end, but rather many small revelations throughout the story, which I liked better, as it keeps you entertained all along.
All the tiny details (especially from not long after the mc’s awakening) that can be easily overlooked make sense at the end.

There were a few things I could point out, but those are very subjective. I kind of wish there was a bit more tension. Yes, the characters did get in trouble a lot, but they got out of it just as quickly (maybe not time frame-wise, but page-wise). But as the main character is on a mission, I guess lengthy fights would slow down the story a lot. Also, there were gazillion types of magic wielders, but the creatures were a lot less diverse. I hope we’ll see more of them in the next books!
Overall, this was a very well-written dark fantasy quest story. It really deserves more attention, so if you are in a mood for embarking on a journey along with the character and discovering the dark truth (of both his and the world’s past), then give this book a try!
Profile Image for Mark Massera.
45 reviews25 followers
December 3, 2020
A great mixture of love, betrayal and revenge. Stirred together by the madman, Michael R Fletcher.

This was fast paced and lots of fun. The 1st person point of view from a man with no memories plays out towards the reader and binds you together.
I found myself conflicted alongside the main character which certainly made it easy to invest in his journey.
Great use of themes that highlight perspectives on good vs evil, what is evil? And can one change?
Bloody, violent and dastardly at times but the story also dives into concepts of love and grief.
Another great job by Fletcher
*4.5 stars*

Video review https://youtu.be/IyzfsXWVT88
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