If you needed an introduction to the author that is Ben Galley, look no further than this prequel to his standalone novel, The Heart of Stone.
I first came across Galley in the 'Long Wolf Anthology', put out by Undaunted Publishing earlier this year. His short story, The Iron Keys, captured me and I put him on my list of soon-to-be household names. Shards continued that sentiment and pushed THoS up quite a bit on my TBR. Obviously not having read THoS, I'm glad Galley gave me an introduction to his main character, Task, and his beginnings during the Diamond Wars.
Shards is short (around 48 pages) but has enough action and intrigue to keep you invested for a quick read on a Saturday afternoon. It feels more like a conclusion than a beginning, as Task is reliving (via dream) the story, but nonetheless, I'm a sucker for novellas like this. To be honest, one wouldn't think golems have intellectual depth, but Galley has instilled great character into Task and has actually created an emotional bond between reader and golem. The only thing I wished for was more: More war, more bloodshed, and more golems. But alas, that is why THoS was written.
All in all, this novella is $0.99, easy to pick up, and worthwhile if you plan on reading THoS. I suggest you give Galley a chance.