Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne, #1)
Priest of Bones by Peter McLean
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Peeky fookin bloindah with a powerful one more chapter syndrome.
A confession first, I’m not a fan of the TV show Peaky Blinders. Despite the well-acted performance of the casts, I gave up watching the TV series in the midst of season 2 because I was insanely bored with the snail-pacing. Yes yes, heresy right? Feel free to mock me with no fighting no fooking fighting meme. Hearing that Priest of Bones is inspired by the TV series was honestly the main reason why I haven’t given this book a go until now. Don’t get me wrong, what they’ve said about this being similar to Peaky Blinders is true; the similarity and inspirations were myriad and some elements did felt a bit too similar, especially in the first half. However, Priest of Bones, to my mind, has a significantly superior package compared to what I’ve seen so far in Peaky Blinders.
“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.”
The war in Abingon is over. Tomas Piety and his companions return to Ellinburg only to find that his crime organizations have been stolen. Seeing that the people of Ellinburg—Tomas’ people—have run out of food and hope, Tomas and his Pious Men are determined to reclaim his businesses back. Priest of Bones, the first book in War for the Rose Throne trilogy, can be defined as a grimdark gangster story in a low-fantasy world. The plot was constantly entertaining, there were many great things about this book but if I were tasked to choose one that excels the most, it would have to be its pacing. Priest of Bones is relatively a short book; at roughly 350 pages, it’s definitely shorter than the fantasy books I usually read which ranges between 500-1000 pages long. The low number of pages plus the unputdownable pacing made this book a short read that made me crave for more. I finished it in two days but I could’ve finished it in a single day; I purposely spread it out so that I have more days being inside this world. Priest of Bones belongs in the grimdark and low-fantasy genre; magic was in the book but it wasn’t too dominant to the plot and there’s no coherent rule surrounding its usage. However, I do think that the way the magic was utilized to increase the tension of the conflicts was well done.
“Sometimes a man has to balance two evils in his hands and choose the lighter one.”
The characters, especially Tomas, Billy the Boy, and Bloody Anne, were gradually fascinating. McLean has implemented a unique manner of speech to Tomas’s narration. “To my mind,” and “I can’t let it pass” were two phrases that Tomas purposely repeated throughout the book. Arguably, some people will find this style of storytelling to be repetitive; I personally think of it as a feature that adds distinction to the first-person narration. I feel like it’s a great way to ascertain that every event of the book was clearly told and perceived from Tomas’ view; it’s what he thinks, other characters may have different opinions about the events that unfolded. The characters’ interactions and their banter were engaging, funny, and heartwarming at times. These characters have gone through a lot of shit at the war in Abingnon and McLean showed the damages that the characters had through their behaviors and actions rather than their internal conflicts. Billy the Boy—one of the side character—was an interesting character and his development helped in making me glued to the story. I also loved Bloody Anne. She’s such a charming character and she reminded me of Anne Bonny from the TV series Black Sails. Without saying too much, I would easily say that Tomas’s friendship with Bloody Anne, in particular, was one of the highlights of the book for me.
“There’s a comradeship in that, in drinking together and saying nothing, because no words need to be said.”
Here’s a sad fact about my reading habit this year, not only it’s been three months since I’ve read a fantasy book that used first-person perspective narration, I’ve actually read 54 books prior to this one within this year and it’s only just now that I realized only two of them were written with first-person narration. It has come to the point where first-person narration felt refreshing for me to read. In a way, that’s also why this book worked well for me; I chose to read it at the right timing. McLean’s prose was utterly readable; simple, vivid, and immersive. I was in dire need of a fast-paced reading experience that doesn’t neglect characterizations and Priest of Bones delivered what I needed.
“Men who have been through Hell together tend to stay together, if they can.”
This is one of the books that have been recommended to me so many times. Although I wasn’t sure about this novel at first, I’m truly grateful that I finally gave it a go. Priest of Bones was exhilarating and incredibly compelling; its addictive storytelling nature truly had me swiping through the pages of my kindle effectively. I highly recommend this to readers who love grimdark fantasy that never goes complete nihilistic. If you’re a fan of fast-paced gangster story, it’s crucial that you read this book as soon as possible. I look forward to reading the sequel, Priest of Lies, which comes out in less than a month from now.
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)
2 thoughts on “Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne, #1)”
Great review! I just read it a little while ago and like you, gets me in line for the sequel.
Thank you, Paul! Can’t wait to read the continuation!