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Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Political Fantasy
Pages: 481 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: 4th August 2022, Jo Fletcher Books

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.

Book Review: Up To The Throne (The Dark Renaissance, #1)

Book Review: Up To The Throne (The Dark Renaissance, #1)

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Up To The Throne by Toby Frost

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The Dark Renaissance (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, political fantasy

Published: December 18th 2018, independently published

If you’re looking for political intrigue and a badass female main protagonist, Up To The Throne might just suit your fancy.

The setting is inspired by the Italian Renaissance, albeit in a world enhanced by magic and alchemy. There was even a nod to Leonardo da Vinci in the narrative, while referencing to an inventor in this world whom the church considers as a madman. Also similar to our own history of the Catholic Church, this was also a time of the Inquisition who was determined to wipe out ‘heretic’ magic-users.

The story is centred around a revenge plot. Giulia Degarno, our main protagonist, was a female thief who has been severely scarred and left for dead 6 years ago on the orders of a master criminal, Publius Severra. Giulia returns to Pagalia after spending years honing her skills to bring her plans of assassinating Severra to fruition. However, during the course of those long years, Severra has also built significant political strength and is no longer a mere criminal.  Strong enough to be in position as one of the three contenders to seize the throne of Pagalia, with the very ill incumbent Prince expected to die pretty soon.  With his stronghold over many of the guilds in the city and living in a house that rivals a fortress, how would Giulia ever get close enough to assassinate Severra?

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