For three books, Tomas Piety’s memoirs have tracked his evolution from soldier to priest to gangster to Queen’s Man. Priest of Crowns takes what you know and burns it all down into glorious wreckage, and it was a brilliant and unexpected journey that caught me flat-footed.
Be very wary of an old man in a young man’s game.
Tomas Piety is a meticulous man. He plays every move close to his chest, and his clever and careful actions have allowed him to ascend far up the ladders of both politics and crime. But living in the capital city of Dannsburg, it’s not just about ascension anymore, it’s about survival. As a Queen’s Man, rubbing elbows with those who turn the gears of government, one wrong move—hell, one wrong comment—and Piety will find himself swinging from the gallows come morning. Thus, one of the more interesting struggles that McLean writes for Piety is a deep insecurity about the amount of respect he gleans from his companions. He is compelled to be the boss, even from those he calls friends. He craves respect and is willing to sacrifice the bonds of friendship to fulfill his need to be the alpha, in all situations. Therefore, it was great fun seeing Tomas out of his comfort zone, facing enemies more powerful than himself, or dealing with allies who were unreliable and borderline insane.
Priest of Crowns is full of surprises and savage heartbreak. Tomas’ evolution from man to boogeyman is a brilliant journey to witness, ingeniously constructed over four books and blown apart in its final moments. It questions the nature of sacrifice, and it dares you to re-read the series from the start with new perspective on it all.
‘Sometimes you have to weigh two evils in your hands and choose the lighter one.’
‘I’m not sure I believe that,’ Anne said.
I’m going to miss one of my favorite narrative voices in fiction, though he got the ending he deserved. A screen adaptation of War for the Rose Throne could easily stand beside prestige dramas like Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders, and Better Caul Saul. McLean has crafted a remarkable story with a distinct voice on the state of modern politics, and a cast of colorful, vibrant characters that brought the story to life. Unputdownable.