Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Release date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 352
Reading level: Adult 
Series: War for the Rose Thorn Book 1 
Genre: Dark Fantasy 
Source: First to Read 
Links: Author • Goodreads  Amazon  

Overall: 4.25 out of 5 stars 

It's a dangerous thing, to choose the lesser of two evils.
The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety finally heads home with Lieutenant Bloody Anne at his side. When he arrives in the Stink, Tomas finds that his empire of crime has been stolen from him while at war. With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas will do whatever it takes to reclaim his businesses. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, and is forced to work in secret for the sinister Queen's Men, everything gets more complicated.
When loyalties stretch to the breaking point and violence only leads to violence, when people have run out of food, and hope, and places to hide, do not be surprised if they have also run out of mercy. As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the backstreet taverns and gambling dens of Tomas's old life it becomes clear; the war is not over.
It is only just beginning.

I'm so glad I took a chance on this one because it was a fast paced and exciting read. PRIEST OF BONES follows Tomas Piety and his gang of Pious Men as they work to reclaim what was stolen from him when he was off fighting the Queen's war. He calls himself a "businessman", but he and his gang are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their businesses and the people of his hometown, Ellingberg. I have never seen Peaky Blinders which it has gotten some comparison towards, but I am a big fan of more modern gangster dramas like The Godfather and The Sopranos. I flew through this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Tomas Piety is an excellent main character. We get to see and experience everything through his eyes and while he may be a violent criminal, he only wants the best for his people. Tomas Piety cares about protecting the innocent and values the opinion of women, which is rare in those days. The fight scenes are riveting. Sword fights, explosions, and sneak attacks kept me hooked. Piety is incredibly loyal and hardworking and doesn't just sit back while others fight his fights. Religion is also explored as Tomas Piety is an army priest.

There are a ton of secondary characters, but they are all so distinctive it doesn't take too long to tell them apart. Still, since the story is through Piety's eyes we only know what he sees and hears, so many of the characters are still a bit mysterious. I especially liked the character of Bloody Anne, his second. Bloody Anne is one of the few other characters who has a fairly well developed back story and after reading about what she has been through, it made me admire her even more. Character development is so important and McLean does a great job of really drawing the reader in to Piety's head. In that sense, we are able to witness everything as he does. And he certainly witnesses some dark things.

PRIEST OF BONES is not light on the violence and the Pious Men are constantly fighting to protect what is theirs. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the inclusion of magic. It was very subtle, but magicians do play a role and I only wish there was more time in this book to delve into that even deeper. Hopefully the rest of the series will explore this further. There is so much to this world that I am curious about. As a whole this was an incredibly well written and engaging read. I highly recommend it! 

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