Priest of Bones by Peter McLean : Review

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.

While I’m not usually the biggest fan of grimdark fantasy and don’t read much in the genre, every now and then I receive a book that just looks or sounds too go to pass up on. Priest of Bones by Peter McLean was the second such book to arrive for me in the mail this year and I’m definitely glad that I decided to give it a chance and read it. It took only a few chapters before I was completely sucked into the story and world and found myself unwilling to put it down when it was time to eat dinner or to try and get a few hours sleep before work.

There was a lot about Priest of Bones that I thought made it a great book, from Peter McLean’s solid prose and the books detailed worldbuilding, but I the one thing that stood out the most to me were the fantastic characters he filled the story with. Whether they were major villains or minor one-shot characters I enjoyed them all. As someone who was brutally efficient at getting his way and willing to do whatever it takes to gain back control of the criminal underworld he thinks is rightfully his, Tomas Piety was by far the best character in the book. Though I enjoyed seeing how he worked and interacted with Bloody Anne and his Pious Men and I’m looking forward to seeing where this dark and bloody story takes them next.

Priest of Bones felt like what The Godfather would have been if it had been set in a fantasy setting instead of the real world, which is a type of story I didn’t know I needed to read until I started this book. There’s just something about the idea of gangsters or mobsters in a fantasy setting that I find interesting and I thought Peter McLean did an amazing job with the concept. As I’m writing this I’m honestly thinking about buying the audiobook just so I can enjoy the story again in a more immersive way.

While there was plenty of blood, death, and violence in this book, it wasn’t quite as dark as I actually expected it to be and I think its a story that can be read and appreciated by anyone who is a fan of fantasy whether they don’t normally read grimdark or not. I’ll definitely be checking out Peter McLean’s other books and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us with the next book in this series.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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