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Priest of Bones

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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 h 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.


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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 h 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.

30 review for Priest of Bones

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    Priest of Bones has been on my radar ever since I attended a book talk at SDCC 2018. It sounded so good - a heavy dose of grimdark with all the usual nastiness and morally-grey characters. But I could not connect with a single character or event in this book no matter what I did. I'm sure the right sort of reader will eat this up and add it to their favourites list. It does seem to be garnering a lot of positive attention. But, honestly, Tomas Piety - war priest and crime lord - just bored me. He Priest of Bones has been on my radar ever since I attended a book talk at SDCC 2018. It sounded so good - a heavy dose of grimdark with all the usual nastiness and morally-grey characters. But I could not connect with a single character or event in this book no matter what I did. I'm sure the right sort of reader will eat this up and add it to their favourites list. It does seem to be garnering a lot of positive attention. But, honestly, Tomas Piety - war priest and crime lord - just bored me. He was not a narrator I cared for or could become invested in. The only character of interest to me was Bloody Anne, but she alone was not enough to hold up the narrative. The dark themes didn't bother me (more on that further down), but I do think I took a particular (and early) dislike to the dick-swinging, beer-guzzling, woman-raping BROS in this book. Dark books should make me shudder, make me think, make me gasp... they shouldn't make me frown and mutter morons under my breath. True to the genre, this is a dark read. I expected and welcomed the darkness, though I think some additions were gratuitous, such as the pedophilia. If you have any triggers or deep dislikes, they are probably in this book. This is not an exhaustive list but warnings for: sexual assault, pedophilia, alcohol and substance abuse, all kinds of abuse, graphic violence and torture, and child prostitution. Tomas Piety is a crime lord who returns to the place of his birth after fighting in a devastating war. Under his command are a group of loyal soldiers who fought beside him and will now help him reclaim the streets he once ruled over. It's a fairly generic tale of gangs fighting over the streets and torturing a few people along the way. There's some magic thrown in, too, though it seems like this will be developed more in the sequels. I think my problem was that there were several elements that make up this book and I found none of them compelling. The story of gang warfare, for one, was uninteresting and unoriginal to me. Tomas felt like any old crime boss with a little humanity towards women and children amid his ruthlessness. I couldn't tell you anything about him that makes him different. The world-building, though suitably dark and dreary, was vague. I like a bit more detail painted into my fantasy worlds. Perhaps Priest of Bones would have also benefited from a third person perspective. We are stuck inside Tomas's mind for the whole book and everyone else feels like little more than a name, colourful as those names may be - Bloody Anne, Black Billy, Kant the Cunt, Will the Wencher, Billy the Boy and more. Not the gripping read I was hoping for, but there's some strong writing here. Curious grimdark fans should give it a shot. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    I received an advance reading copy of Priest of Bones in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Peter McLean and Ace for the opportunity. The crime boss, soldier, and priest Tomas Piety has spent the last three years fighting a war he was conscripted into. Although victorious, it all seems hollow with the death, destruction, plague, and famine that has ravished the land. We join Tomas and his crew of trusted mercenaries as they are venturing home, warworn and looking to return to t I received an advance reading copy of Priest of Bones in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Peter McLean and Ace for the opportunity. The crime boss, soldier, and priest Tomas Piety has spent the last three years fighting a war he was conscripted into. Although victorious, it all seems hollow with the death, destruction, plague, and famine that has ravished the land. We join Tomas and his crew of trusted mercenaries as they are venturing home, warworn and looking to return to their previous lives. Upon reaching Ellingberg- the city where Tomas and his gang the Pious Men once controlled the streets he soon realises that his businesses have been stolen whilst he has been away spilling blood and guts for his Queen. With his crew of loyal military veterans at his side, he decides it's time to reclaim what is rightfully his. It is soon unravelled that there is more going on in the city than meets the eye this time and the turf war skirmishes of his previous business regime are the least of his worries. To quote the back of the advanced reading copy "The war is not over. It's only just beginning." I can safely say that this will be the book dark fantasy and grimdark fans will be raving about at the end of this year. It is reminiscent of McDonald's Blackwing for the mercenary crew camaraderie, Puzo's The Godfather or Lee's Jade City for the crime family intricacies, and Horowitz's House of Silk for a few very uncomfortable moments. This narrative is presented in the first person perspective as if Tomas is dictating or writing his memories. Within the first chapter, I was gripped by the voice, the flow, and Tomas' thoughts and opinions. Essentially, being inside the mind of a crime boss, we are privy to all of his views, ambitions, agendas, and secrets which none of the other characters in the dramatis personae are. This cleverly ascertained instant empathy pulled me in and even though you'd never call Tomas an unflawed person you will more than likely be on his side throughout. There is a pretty sizable cast of characters in Priest of Bones and for a relatively short book, I intially thought there would be too many. The way it's written as if we are following Tomas' train of thought and views makes it easy to recognise, differentiate between and feel for the wide range of many different individuals within the ensemble. Many of the players including our narrator have hidden objectives, motives and a secret past existence. As the first of a proposed trilogy, not all questions regarding the characters are answered but enough nuggets and reveals are presented that it's truly enticing although often gritty and I'm excited to find out more going forwards. Especially with reference to three of my favourite characters including Tomas' second, the scarred veteran Bloody Anne, his brother the slightly disturbed but warrior berserker Jochan, and his mysterious, cunning, and adopted 12-year-old nephew Billy the Boy. There is also a character called Cutter who is described as "a professional murderer with a mysterious past" who I can't wait to find out more about in the rest of the series. I'll point out that it is a coincidence that he shares a name with an assassin in Malazan Book of the Fallen. McLean himself described the first entry in War for the Rose Throne as being influenced by a combination of Peaky Blinders and The Godfather, but set in Tudor-era Edinburgh crossed with Industrial Revolution London. I can readily see all these influences, however; I also analysed it as having a sort of medieval Irish twang and in addition, it features lots of fantasy greatness such as deadly magicians, named personal weapons and secret assassin groups. The world building is exquisite and it mostly takes place within Ellingberg as the Pious Men are trying to rebuild their business empire and find out more about who their opposition is. Who is this Bloodhands who is just described as a very, very scary man? I'm sure a map of the city will be featured in the final edition but McLean painted perfect imagery with his lexical choices so that it felt that I was walking down the streets of the Stink or the Wheels and even feeling as if I was with the gang drinking in the local tavern before an inevitable ruckus occurred. My only negative of this story is very minor. I felt that occasionally there was slight, in my opinion, needless repetition of statements that had been said in chapters before yet that didn't take anything away from my enjoyment. An extra point for me to mention is that this book is a complete standalone and all wraps up nicely. That being said there are enough loose threads and intrigue that it sets up the next entry expertly and I will definitely be continuing this series. There is a segment in the last chapter that hints at what may follow in book #2 and it's an exciting prospect. I'm pretty certain Priest of Bones will be one of the finest grimdark books of the year. Dark fantasy alumni such as Mark Lawrence, Ed McDonald, and Anna Stephens have already posted glowing reviews regarding Priest of Bones and I believe it will be fans of the above mentioned who will find a lot to enjoy here. Although McLean's released the Urban Fantasy series The Burned Man previously, in Priest of Bones he has presented a brilliant debut grimdark outing that is fascinating, gripping and has everything that I look for in a crime-focused novel.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lawrence

    Priest of Bones is a very more-ish book, very readable. The prose is solid, the single first person character who delivers the story has a strong voice. It’s a very satisfying book to read, the plot never gets away from itself. Basically Priest of Bones is a story of organised crime with shades of the Godfather here and there. Our protagonist returns from a horrific war with old friends, family, and new friends formally under his command. I say friends, but Tomas Peity is a leader, sometimes a pr Priest of Bones is a very more-ish book, very readable. The prose is solid, the single first person character who delivers the story has a strong voice. It’s a very satisfying book to read, the plot never gets away from itself. Basically Priest of Bones is a story of organised crime with shades of the Godfather here and there. Our protagonist returns from a horrific war with old friends, family, and new friends formally under his command. I say friends, but Tomas Peity is a leader, sometimes a priest, always a soldier, he commands respect rather than friendship and he is returning to the city he was born in to pick up where he left off, ruling the streets of a sizeable district as its crime lord. Naturally others have moved in during his absence and heads have to broken, knee-caps removed. Things grow more complicated and the plot thickens, but essentially this is about driving out other gangs, re-establishing control, building an empire of brothels, pubs, gambling houses and the like. It sounds quite old school. It really isn’t. The cast is diverse in terms of gender, race, and sexual preference. It sounds grim and dark … and it is … but our priest of bones is quite the humanitarian for a ruthless crime lord, intolerant of rape, violence against women (unless they are armed), child abuse, the drug trade, treating the poor badly, the list goes on. It doesn’t stop him leading an exciting life though and cutting his way through some very grimdark situations. There’s blood and shit in large measure. Tomas Piety is a good fighter but he leads by choosing the right man (or woman) for the job, be it Bloody Anne, Billy the Boy, Black Billy, Sir Eland, Kant the Cunt, Jochan Piety - his wild brother, Will the Wencher, or any other of his crew of Pious Men. It’s fun to watch him rebuild his empire a piece at a time, ripping down someone else’s as he goes. Given the single point of view, and the high tempo action, most of the characters remain little more than nametags, but we get to know a few much better and it’s well done. Fantasy enters the story through the sporadic appearance of sorcerers with a trainee on the home team. The magic is definitely of the mysterious variety rather than the magic-system sort. I found it to be a really good read. It’s not a book that stuns you with originality, powerful prose, cunningly engineered plot … it’s just very fun to read. It’s a charismatic book. I think it could do really well. EDIT: & now there's a cover! Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes ...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    The war at Abingon is over, but the scars remain. Thomas Piety and his small band of war brutalised ex-soldiers have no more use to the Crown now the conflict has been won- they have been set adrift, one group among many let loose in a land already devastated by famine and plague. However, these may just be luckier than most, for Thomas Piety, leader of the feared Pious Men, had certain criminal interests before the war, and once again there’s hard cash to be made in Ellinburg for those with the The war at Abingon is over, but the scars remain. Thomas Piety and his small band of war brutalised ex-soldiers have no more use to the Crown now the conflict has been won- they have been set adrift, one group among many let loose in a land already devastated by famine and plague. However, these may just be luckier than most, for Thomas Piety, leader of the feared Pious Men, had certain criminal interests before the war, and once again there’s hard cash to be made in Ellinburg for those with the balls to do it. First though, they have to take back what’s theirs from a shady unknown faction bent on much more than just illegal moneymaking, threatening to bring the horror of foreign wars right to the Pious Men’s doorstep. And that just won’t do. That won’t do at all. It takes no time at all for this fight to get going, the stakes further raised by the arrival of a Queen’s Man, a deadly agent of the Crown with their own agenda. To and fro turf battles play alongside the larger issue of malignant overseas interests, building a thrilling, savage pace that lasts right till the final page. Even so, this is not violence porn. Murder is a means to an end as well as a message, but for the most part, these are soldiers and when they want people dead, they push a sword through them. Oh, there’s flair and inventiveness too, but the brutal efficiency of it is all the more frightening. This world is dark to the core, but not gratuitously so. All the sadistic aspects of this life are there, whether as part of a character’s past or in contemporary Ellinburg society, but it’s set up pretty quickly, in the way Piety deals with one of his men attempting rape, that such transgressions will receive his own style of harsh justice. And that tends to be pretty final. So while the book ostensibly seems like it might be straight up grim, it’s much more nuanced than that. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still lots of stabby fun, but its a long way from the nihilism that characterises true grimdark. The first person narrative has the feel of epic poetry, of Homer: a story of war and of ‘heroes’ returning to find their home changed, seized by outsiders. Piety talks directly to his audience and his voice has a preciseness to it, a kind of dry, distancing effect that clashes effectively with the bloody, personal nature of his tale. It has the repetition and musicality of oral storytelling, with him reminding us frequently of what has come before, ‘as I have written’, as any storyteller does to emphasise and focus attention. He repeatedly returns to one refrain: these are the times we live in. Both reiterations add a sense of rhythm and connectedness to his story, as well as highlighting himself and the present state of affairs as two interwoven strands, combining to produce an inevitably bloodstained pattern. It works to explain his own actions as well as those around him, but isn’t there to absolve him, or them, of responsibility. The introspection at the end certainly suggests this; in trying to prevent war, he has brought death and destruction on an unprecedented scale. What does that mean for his position in the future? I can’t wait to find out. Above all, he is a practical man. He might be a priest, but he doesn’t hold to any kind of religious morality. Instead, he will do what needs to be done. He provides action based, effective solutions to problems, whether it be dealing with people or removing the competition with bloody finality. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his own ethical framework. He looks after his own. His mantra is ‘the right man for the right job. And in this book, ‘man’ means anyone. He actually has a rather enlightened attitude to women and race as well as deep loyalty to those who have bled and fought for him. None of the women are treated as lesser, quite the opposite. From Gutcutter leader, Ma Aditi, to his ex-soldier aunt, Enaid, and his second, Bloody Anne, the women are capable, clever, and frightening enough to freeze your blood solid. Cross them and they’ll soon be carving you open to see just where that sort of stupid came from. It has the same kind of equal opportunities badassery as Malazan and the tone to match. Though the reader sees everything through Piety, there’s still some scope for these other characters to shine and the small amount we learn about them all only serves to whet the appetite for more. This is a compelling blend of historical style fiction, gangland, and magic, with a fascinating main character in Thomas Piety and a voice that's thrillingly original. I have been lucky enough to read some cracking books this year, but I have no doubt this will sit high in my best-of-2018 list. ARC via Netgalley

  5. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    Priest of Bones by Peter McLean is the start to a new adult grimdark fantasy series. Gritty, violent and highly addictive this book kept me glued to the pages until the very end. The story begins with our badass MC, Tomas Piety, returning to his hometown after fighting in a long, brutal war. He brings with him a hodgepodge group of men, including his righthand 'man' Bloody Anne, and the mysterious child, Billy the Boy. Not far behind comes his younger brother, Jochan, with some of his men, retur Priest of Bones by Peter McLean is the start to a new adult grimdark fantasy series. Gritty, violent and highly addictive this book kept me glued to the pages until the very end. The story begins with our badass MC, Tomas Piety, returning to his hometown after fighting in a long, brutal war. He brings with him a hodgepodge group of men, including his righthand 'man' Bloody Anne, and the mysterious child, Billy the Boy. Not far behind comes his younger brother, Jochan, with some of his men, returning as well. The two groups band together and set out to reclaim the territory and businesses previously owned by Piety that have been pirated during his absence. This story has everything I am looking for when I open a grimdark fantasy. I want dirt. Lots of it. Dirt, grime, blood, stink, cussing, fighting and no mercy. Just me? This book had all of those things in spades but it also had a lot more. It deals with some heavier topics that I think were handled really well; rather impressively in fact. For example, a lot of the men returning from war struggle with PTSD - I believe they call it battle sickness in the book - and it didn't gloss over that fact; it discussed it, showed what that meant amongst the men and how they helped one another. It also examined the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse - the effects that has as an individual is growing into an adult. There are issues with grief, with guilt, and sexual identity. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few that I noticed and appreciated. That is pretty much all I want to say on the plot, as I don't want to reveal anything else that may spoil the paced reveal of the story to anyone. "All you want is more blood, and more fucking death, and it's never enough for you, is it? You've become a fucking priest of bones!" I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes grimdark fantasy; particularly people who may like stories like, The Song of Ice and Fire series, that have a lot of political intrigue in them and complex relationships. This story left off in the perfect place for the second book to start and trust me, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Well done, Peter McLean, well done! Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkeley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing what other readers think of this incredibly dark and delicious story!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Petros Triantafyllou

    Absolutely sensational - What Low Fantasy should be. Tomas Piety returns from war to see everything he has worked so hard for in his life taken from him. While he was fighting for his country and his Queen, foreigners invaded his city and took all of his businesses and therefore his throne as one of the city's most powerful crime lords. But while he once used to lead gangsters, he now leads soldiers, forged and hardened in the fires of Abington. Soldiers that he won't hesitate to use in order to Absolutely sensational - What Low Fantasy should be. Tomas Piety returns from war to see everything he has worked so hard for in his life taken from him. While he was fighting for his country and his Queen, foreigners invaded his city and took all of his businesses and therefore his throne as one of the city's most powerful crime lords. But while he once used to lead gangsters, he now leads soldiers, forged and hardened in the fires of Abington. Soldiers that he won't hesitate to use in order to bring the Pious Men back in power, and harsh justice to those who dare stand in his way. "I looked down for a moment and gave thanks to Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows for my victory. She hadn't guided my hand, I knew that much. Our Lady doesn't help. Not ever. She doesn't answer prayers or grant boons or give a man anything at all however hard he might pray for it. The best you can hope for from her is that she doesn't take your life today. Maybe tomorrow, aye, but not today. That's as good as it gets, and the rest is up to you. She was a goddess for soldiers and no mistake." Before I tell you what I think of this book, I'll first delve into its nature. I've seen Priest of Bones described as Grimdark, and although several of its aspects are usually seen in that sub-genre, I find its main thematic elements closer to Low Fantasy: a morally ambiguous, gritty and realistic world, a complex and flawed social order with consecutive power struggles, a limited use of magic, and a lack of heroism (or interest in it). Priest of Bones is beautifully written and well-thought-out. While you meet a big portion of the rather numerous characters from the very first chapter, you're still able to set them apart from their distinctive personalities and traits. The purpose of such a large cast is clear in the same chapter, when a seemingly important character is promptly killed and disposed in a surprising and shocking manner. While the story is told by a single POV in a character-driven way, the rest of the cast gets enough spotlight throughout the story, making the reader care for their fate, which is rather unsettling at places due to the aforementioned purpose of their large number. The plot is kept tight from beginning to end, and while a couple of sub-plots naturally emerge to introduce fresh purposes and motives, they don't steal much of the spotlight. The rather small portion of the world introduced in the story is beautifully portrayed and well fleshed-out, but most importantly aptly suited to the story. The magic, although scarcely used, is still there, playing a role rather than serving a purpose, which is what sets apart Priest of Bones from a number of other fantasy debuts of the past few years. The prose is smooth and easy to follow, and that combined with a flowing story, an even pace and a rising tempo, result in one of those books that you could easily read in one go. All in all, Priest of Bones is Low Fantasy at its finest, and I wouldn't hesitate to call it Debut of the Year.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    It’s grim, it’s dark, and it had me from page one! Adult fantasy with a charismatic anti-hero with-a-heart, PRIEST OF BONES by Peter McLean is an action-packed tale of a crime lord taking back his town, one villain at a time. Meet bad guys with a heart, a keen sense of loyalty and a very unique sense of justice as Tomas Piety and his gang finally head home when the war is over. All is not well in the streets he once “owned” and he is determined to take it back, one inch at a time, but he had not It’s grim, it’s dark, and it had me from page one! Adult fantasy with a charismatic anti-hero with-a-heart, PRIEST OF BONES by Peter McLean is an action-packed tale of a crime lord taking back his town, one villain at a time. Meet bad guys with a heart, a keen sense of loyalty and a very unique sense of justice as Tomas Piety and his gang finally head home when the war is over. All is not well in the streets he once “owned” and he is determined to take it back, one inch at a time, but he had not expected to be caught up in the dark political intrigue poisoning his home. Thugs, miscreants and gangsters make up an unlikely band of anti-heroes as they slash and stab their way through their own brand of justice. Razor-taut writing, raw and unadorned, this tale and these characters have forged their way into one of my top reads for this year! Magic and mayhem abound as Peter McLean unleashes his imagination with bold characters and gritty scenes. Fantasy for grown-ups at its finest! I can guarantee I'll be back for more! I received a complimentary ARC edition from Berkley Publishing Group! Series: War for the Rose Throne - Book 1 Publisher: Ace (October 2, 2018) Publication Date: October 2, 2018 Genre: Dark Fantasy Print Length: 352 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ed McDonald

    TLDR: An enjoyable read for lovers of small-scale fantasy, with a diverse cast of crooks. Priest of Bones can be effectively summarised as “gangsters in fantasyville.” The story follows Tomas Piety as he attempts to reclaim his underworld kingdom following a significant war. I finished this book after just six days, and for a reader who only manages about 15 books per year, that’s saying something on its own. PoB is an easy read. There’s always something going on, and Mclean manages to combine two TLDR: An enjoyable read for lovers of small-scale fantasy, with a diverse cast of crooks. Priest of Bones can be effectively summarised as “gangsters in fantasyville.” The story follows Tomas Piety as he attempts to reclaim his underworld kingdom following a significant war. I finished this book after just six days, and for a reader who only manages about 15 books per year, that’s saying something on its own. PoB is an easy read. There’s always something going on, and Mclean manages to combine two of my most liked elements in fantasy – a quick moving plot, and characters with realistic relationships. None of the character interactions felt forced. I’d have liked to see more interaction with two characters in particular, but I’ll have to wait for the sequel to see how those plots turn out. I’m a big fan of small-scale fantasy. This isn’t epic fantasy; the events, at most, affect the population of a single city and that’s a really refreshing break from big, world sprawling journeys. The cast is actually quite large for a story of this scope, but Mclean uses a naming system that reminds me a little of Glen Cook in order to ensure that you don’t forget who is who (a problem I often have with larger fantasy books). The cast is diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender and sexuality. This book may get called grimdark at some stage, but I’d not place it as such. Despite his criminal intentions, Piety is a fairly moralistic character. He’s all about being good to the people – kind of so that he can exploit them – but for his time he’s something of a visionary when it comes to morality. There's a lot of violence, some of it sexual, but we're never unsure of which side of the moral divide Piety is on. Fans of Daniel Polansky’s Low Town books, Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns or dare I say Blackwing will find a number of similar themes put forward and I feel that’s the readership who will most appreciate this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anton

    👏 absolutely fantastic! Can’t wait for the book 2. Will follow up with more notes asap. This is a gorgeous new entry into low-magic grimdark genre! 5 ⭐ all the way 👏 absolutely fantastic! Can’t wait for the book 2. Will follow up with more notes asap. This is a gorgeous new entry into low-magic grimdark genre! 5 ⭐️ all the way

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I HEARD THIS WAS PARTLY INFLUENCED BY PEAKY BLINDERS SO OF COURSE I'M DUTY-BOUND TO READ IT

  11. 4 out of 5

    The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).

    4.5 stars. As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress... After three years away, fighting a war in Abingon for Queen and country Tomas Piety returns home to the city of Ellinburg. Before the war conscripted everyone of an age to fight Tomas with his brother Johan were ‘The Pious Men‘ and led by Tomas they were one of the gangs that ruled Ellinburg. Each gang has a specific area of Ellinburg that they rule with borders dividing th 4.5 stars. As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress... After three years away, fighting a war in Abingon for Queen and country Tomas Piety returns home to the city of Ellinburg. Before the war conscripted everyone of an age to fight Tomas with his brother Johan were ‘The Pious Men‘ and led by Tomas they were one of the gangs that ruled Ellinburg. Each gang has a specific area of Ellinburg that they rule with borders dividing the territories. The gangs take taxes, offer protection to those that pay, bribe the City Guard to stay out of the way and run various businesses and criminal enterprises to make money. Upon his return to Ellinburg Tomas finds that his businesses and his territory have all been stolen from him by outsiders from another country. With veterans from the war that were part of his company and crew along with Jochan, his younger brother and his crew too offering the battle-scarred soldiers jobs, an income and a future Tomas reforms The Pious Men. Setting out to take back his businesses, his streets and reclaim everything that was his before he went off to war taking on the foreigners and other returning gang leaders alike and that’s the crux of the story. As the story escalates and builds to its explosive finale, there are, however, added reasons (and slight twists) as to why Tomas needs to consolidate his power in Ellinburg that are revealed during the course of the book. There is more than enough action to please in the bloody battles, gangland warfare, power struggles and turf wars that take place on the streets of Ellinburg but Priest of Bones is also a very character-driven read with a great story that unfolds too. Priest of Bones is written in the first person perspective and narrated by Tomas Piety but also features a large cast of ensemble characters. The war in Abingon was hard and harsh and it has taken its toll on those who survived, all have scars, some you can see, others you can’t and many of The Pious Men are suffering from battle shock (PTSD). Some of them are downright bad and all of them have questionable morals coming firmly from the ‘shades of grey‘ school of miscreant characters. For those who like and look for strong female characters in their books, there is Bloody Anne. Bloody Anne was the sergeant in the company that Tomas was the priest of during the war and has remained by his side becoming a Pious Man. She can handle herself in a fight, gets the job done and is tough, she’s also a fantastic character. She’s not the only strong female character though, Tomas’s aunt Enaid an ex-soldier herself is as tough as old leather, a battle axe whose not to be messed with, likewise, Ma Aditi the leader of the Gutcutters, a rival gang and then there’s the mysterious Ailsa too. The whole cast in Tomas’s narrative has a role to play in his tale. As we become acquainted with them and their plethora of nicknames McLean turns them into fully-fleshed characters. Offering plenty of page time and giving them their own individual attitudes and personalities. Allowing many of them the chance to shine and to showcase the various abilities that make them important to both The Pious Men and the story that McLean is telling. Tomas, himself is an intriguing main character and narrator. Lower class, he’s neither prim nor proper and there’s no excess pomp to his words. Narrating in his own distinctive voice, peppered with foul language and using his own unique phrases and sayings. He’s a priest, due to circumstance and the war rather than any excessive religious belief. He’s a hard man who delivers harsh justice to those who wrong him and those who deserve it but there’s something more to him too. He’s a leader who looks after his family, both his blood and his crew, he looks after his people, those under his protection and takes their safety seriously, he’s fair to those who show him respect and to those who do right by him and The Pious Men, he’s not honourable as such but he has a code that he abides by. The city of Ellinburg and its streets are the setting for Priest of Bones. We don’t get to see a vast amount of the city with the story predominantly taking place in only a couple of the quarters but what we do see is well-depicted, shows the class divide between the rich and the poor and comes to life in a grimy and gritty fashion. There’s not much magic in Priest of Bones and its usage is very minimal but it’s there and has a role to play. There are various explosives but the fighting is done mainly with steel. Axes, knives and swords are the weaponry of choice for The Pious Men with the occasional crossbow thrown in for good measure allowing for plenty of blood-letting to occur in the battles. One of the things that I particularly liked about McLean and his writing was how he delivers information to the reader. Alongside Tomas and Jochan only a couple of the other characters are Ellinburg natives who know the city and the ways of The Pious Men, the others don’t. This enables McLean to have Tomas explain to and tell the new crew members how things in Ellinburg are done and what the appearances, expectations and rules of The Pious Men and the politics of the city are without it ever feeling like information dumping on his part. McLean writes in such a way that his words fluently flow and adroitly pull you in. From the first chapter, you find that you are in for a grim read and one in which the author isn’t afraid to off his characters. Priest of Bones is a dark and fast-paced book that you can devour and I found myself effortlessly reading 100 pages or more in one sitting. In fantasy and in other genres too some books tend to be padded out with an overly long page-count and they can, on occasion feel like a chore or a slog to get through often outstaying their welcome. Priest of Bones isn’t one of them and with his book, McLean has created what feels like a short but snappy read that packs both a punch and a lot into its length. Priest of Bones is an intoxicating blend of fantasy and gangsters that left me wanting more.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/10/01/... Hmm, my thoughts are complicated for this one. Priest of Bones by Peter McLean is garnering all kinds of praise and I’m happy it’s getting the attention it deserves, but I’m just not feeling as enthusiastic about it as I ought to be. It’s as if on some level, I know I should like this—everything about the story screams “me” and the premise sounds exactly like the kind of dark fantasy designed to push all my right buttons. 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/10/01/... Hmm, my thoughts are complicated for this one. Priest of Bones by Peter McLean is garnering all kinds of praise and I’m happy it’s getting the attention it deserves, but I’m just not feeling as enthusiastic about it as I ought to be. It’s as if on some level, I know I should like this—everything about the story screams “me” and the premise sounds exactly like the kind of dark fantasy designed to push all my right buttons. And yet, I felt a bizarre sense of distance when reading this, like how when an overzealous salesperson comes on too strongly with their pitch and actually winds up turning you off from a product you had wanted to buy. In this novel, which feels a lot like grimdark sword and sorcery meets The Godfather, we follow mob boss and army priest Tomas Piety as he returns home to Ellinburg after fighting in a brutal war, only to find his criminal empire in shambles. Someone else had moved in during his absence, using the confusion of the war to take over all his properties and rackets. Keeping his trusted lieutenant Bloody Anne at his side and his volatile brother Jochan at arm’s length, Tomas sets out to gather up his gang of Pious Men in preparation to reclaim what he had worked so hard to build. But in doing so, Tomas unwittingly uncovers the secret of who has been bankrolling his rivals, turning his once beloved city into a hollow shell run by foreign powers. Though he is loathe to do it, Tomas agrees to work clandestinely with the Queen’s Men, a group of agents for the crown, if it means saving the kingdom from invaders. Credit where credit’s due: Priest of Bones is action-packed and fast-paced, wasting no time in getting right into the thick of things. From my experience reading the Burned Man trilogy, I already know McLean doesn’t mess around. His prose is sharp as a blade, his dialogue acerbic and punchy. There is hardly any preamble as we are thrown headfirst into the raging turf war, with the violence escalating from fist fights to fire bombs in no time flat. There’s a dark tone to this one, no question about that. But here’s where its entire concept also started to unravel for me. Yes, a lot of unsavory things happen in this story, including but not limited to murder, sexual assault, violence and cruelty towards men, women, children, animals, you name it. As an avid reader of grimdark, none of this is anything I haven’t seen before, and yet, something about it in this case felt…off. While I wouldn’t stay the amount of violence is gratuitous exactly, I would say it feels a bit perfunctory and done for its own sake. There’s a real sense of going through the motions when it comes to a lot of these sequences, and character actions also feel scripted like they’re only doing and saying the things they do because it’s what the reader would expect. It was difficult connecting with Tomas, as a result. There was a lot of telling and not showing when it came to his motivations, which made him come across as disingenuous. Simply repeating something over and over does not make it any more believable, for example, as when Tomas kept insisting that he respects women because he made Bloody Anne his second and pays her more than his other men. His persona felt artificial, like the very heart and soul of his character was missing. It also didn’t help that he was such a practical man. Tomas is someone who does what needs to be done, tackling problems with an almost detached and calculating approach. There’s a marriage-of-convenience plot in this story which perfectly illustrated this, where the protagonist might have felt something more for his expedient bride, yet at no point did I actually feel convinced. While I could definitely see what the author was trying to go for with Tomas’ character, I just couldn’t get on board with it. Nevertheless, I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this book, especially if it sounds like something you’ll enjoy. And to be quite honest, while I did not love Priest of Bones, I could still appreciate it for what it was: a fast-moving dark fantasy novel of moral ambiguity and intrigue that scores high on the readability and cool factor meters—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Of course, it would have been nice if it had gone above and beyond those factors, but at the end of the day, this might just be another case of my misplaced hopes and hype.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nick T. Borrelli

    Click here for my full review: http://outofthisworldrev.blogspot.com... Army priest Tomas Piety has come home after three years of fighting in a war that he didn't sign up for. Before being shipped off to the bloody battlefield, Tomas was a very important man in the city of Ellinburg. Some might say he was the only man that really mattered. He is the de facto leader of a powerful crime syndicate that once controlled every aspect of Ellinburg society. Nothing happened in Ellinburg that didn't first Click here for my full review: http://outofthisworldrev.blogspot.com... Army priest Tomas Piety has come home after three years of fighting in a war that he didn't sign up for. Before being shipped off to the bloody battlefield, Tomas was a very important man in the city of Ellinburg. Some might say he was the only man that really mattered. He is the de facto leader of a powerful crime syndicate that once controlled every aspect of Ellinburg society. Nothing happened in Ellinburg that didn't first go through The Pious Men and their boss Tomas Piety. One thing becomes increasingly obvious to Tomas upon his return to his home city, and that is things have changed dramatically in Ellinburg during the time that he's been away. The first thing that he realizes is that all of the businesses that he and his Pious Men once controlled have been taken over by another faction, seizing upon the vacuum that The Pious Men left behind. This is understandably enraging to Tomas since he's been off fighting and bleeding in a war for his Queen, only to be undercut and have his business operation taken over by a shadowy group who have their own specific motivations. These motivations are murky at best, but could soon be revealed now that a confrontation is almost inevitable between the tow groups. The Pious Men are left with only two real options: leave things as they are and simply blend back into society as returning war heroes or engage in an all-out power struggle to take back what was unjustly (in their minds) stolen from them. Let's just say that Tomas Piety isn't the type of man to take something like this lying down and he simply cannot allow this to stand, if only to save face with his people. Tomas, along with his emotionally unstable brother Jochan and his second in command Bloody Anne must begin hatching a plan to begin to take back each tavern, gaming house, and brothel that they once controlled. Complicating matters even further is the governor of Ellinburg, who doesn't particularly relish what he knows is coming. And what is surely coming is a bloody power play that could potentially cripple the city, leaving corpses strewn across his streets. Tomas knows that he must walk a fine line so as not to run himself and his crew afoul of the law, while still somehow avenging the audacious infiltration that has taken place in his absence. In the end one true fact emerges, the war that Tomas once fought on foreign soil for three long years never ended even after their victory. Rather, it has just continued in another form on his home turf of Ellinburg. Can Tomas summon the leadership skills that he acquired during that bloody conflict to rally the Pious Men in an overthrow of the outlanders or are they ultimately just too strong and organized to be beaten? And even more problematic to consider, could these interlopers have friends in very high places that don't want them to be taken out? I knew that I was going to be in for quite a ride with this book when Peter McLean immediately kills off one of the characters in gruesome fashion within the first few paragraphs. I thought, "okay, time to buckle in!" In PRIEST OF BONES, we are introduced to this strikingly powerful main character named Tomas Piety. The first thing that I was struck by was how Tomas is portrayed as an unforgiving and sometimes brutal leader of men, yet he has recently taken the cloth of priesthood and in so doing becomes a follower of "Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows". When he is reunited with his brother Jochan after the war, Jochan actually laughs openly at the idea that Tomas is now a priest. I knew at this point in the story that Tomas was going to be one heck of a complex character and very far from one-dimensional. With every decision that he makes and with every thought in his head, it is obvious that he is now somewhat influenced by his newly found religion. The first-person narrative is so effective and really gives you a great sense of how he sees things on a personal level. At the same time, Tomas has lost none of his overbearing personality and brutality when it comes to his territoriality issues and claims to what he believes are rightfully his. He's a guy who doesn't take very kindly to being challenged. Tomas also has the inane ability to lead and enjoys the unwavering support of his crew through a delicate balance of harsh discipline and also praise, as he shows when he divvies out money from his private stash after The Pious Men conduct a successful raid to take back some of their lost territory. The secondary characters are so incredibly well fleshed-out and are vital to the story as with Tomas' second in command Bloody Anne. Anne has lived a very tortured life and we get a definite taste of that in a couple of scenes where she bears her soul. We also get treated to the disturbing reason why she has been given the unusual moniker "Bloody" Anne. Then there's Jochan, who tends to be a thorn in Tomas' side as he can be quite unstable most of the time. This only gets compounded when his jealousy that Bloody Anne is chosen as Second to Tomas instead of his own brother comes to a head. This little personal battle between brothers serves as a very nice conflict within the overarching conflict in the book, and is something that you have a creeping feeling will be somewhat problematic for Thomas down the road. From the start, I was drawn into the drama between The Pious Men and the invaders who had taken over their former territory. Just as an aside, I think the whole "Godfather" angle is a bit overplayed in some of the descriptions of this book, as this is still a very Fantasy-rooted story and I never once got the feeling that I was reading about Michael Corleone. It's definitely more Scott Lynch than it is Mario Puzo in my opinion. The confrontations between the two battling factions are so stunningly vivid in their descriptions, some not even involving physical violence but rather subterfuge and political maneuvering. PRIEST OF BONES gave me many moments of jaw-dropping surprise, there are twists and turns aplenty in these 350 pages. What I originally thought was going to be a Grimdark battle royal became in reality a multi-textured, mystery-infused, character-driven novel that shows you the best and worst that human nature can exhibit under extreme duress. I finished my review of Ravencry right before starting PRIEST OF BONES and I was kind of dubious as to whether or not another book could match its intensity and prose, let alone so soon after the fact. I'm so happy to be able to state that Peter McLean has given us one hell of a story to savor that is absolutely at the lofty level of my previous read. Merely classifying this wonderful book as Grimdark, or Grindark, or Low-Fantasy does it a disservice in my opinion. PRIEST OF BONES defies classification in that it is a phenomenal story with sensational characters and should be read by everyone who enjoys bloody great books. If I didn't have such a huge backlog of upcoming reviews that I needed to finish, I would go back to page one and read it all over again to see if I could pick out anything new. Incidentally, for those wishing to pick up a copy of PRIEST OF BONES, the official U.S. publication date is October 2nd. Now that we are on the doorstep of September, it shouldn't feel like too much of a wait until release day. Grab this one as soon as it is officially available and add it to the top of your reading list, you won't regret it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Priest of Bones is a fantasy novel, a beginning of a new fantasy series, that is a cross between Conan the Barbarian's world, Nicolo Machiavelli, and the Godfather. It involves battle-hardened men (and women- there is no forgetting Bloody Anne) returning home to what is left of the city back home. Tormented by battlefield nightmares and wounds that will never heal, the Pious Men have returned to reclaim their part of the city- the part they taxed and gave protection to- the businesses they ran. Priest of Bones is a fantasy novel, a beginning of a new fantasy series, that is a cross between Conan the Barbarian's world, Nicolo Machiavelli, and the Godfather. It involves battle-hardened men (and women- there is no forgetting Bloody Anne) returning home to what is left of the city back home. Tormented by battlefield nightmares and wounds that will never heal, the Pious Men have returned to reclaim their part of the city- the part they taxed and gave protection to- the businesses they ran. And, it will be a bloody mess reconquering their buildings from the rot that has taken them over. Battlefield violence, magic powers, palace intrigue, and never-ending strategy occupy. The world that McLean gives us is stark, desperate, violent, and dark. There are no birds singing in the trees. There are no green meadows alive with the sound of music. But, he has filled this world with so much interplay, so much strategy, that you finish this only wanting to pick up the next volume when it comes out and see where he is taking Tomas Piety, Bloody Anne, and the rest of them. The characters are well-drawn and each becomes more fascinating than the next. What's amazing is he has only given us small hints at the world that this story is taking place in and there is so much more out there to reveal in future volumes in this series. Many thanks to Penguin Publishing for providing a copy for review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    Sometimes, you read a synopsis, and it’s like you just can’t get your hands on that book fast enough, right? That was Priest of Bones for me. I initially heard it marketed as “Peaky Blinders with swords”, and given how badly I’ve been meaning to find the time to watch Peaky Blinders, that felt like a sign that I should snatch this one right up! Antiheroes, gangsters, crime lords, and a general moral greyness on top of it all? It should’ve been a recipe for perfection! There was a devil in me, Sometimes, you read a synopsis, and it’s like you just can’t get your hands on that book fast enough, right? That was Priest of Bones for me. I initially heard it marketed as “Peaky Blinders with swords”, and given how badly I’ve been meaning to find the time to watch Peaky Blinders, that felt like a sign that I should snatch this one right up! Antiheroes, gangsters, crime lords, and a general moral greyness on top of it all? It should’ve been a recipe for perfection! There was a devil in me, and all my crew knew it. Unfortunately, I vastly oversold this one for myself. I hadn’t reached the end of the first few chapters before I realized that the narrative was going to be a struggle for me, and it was to the very end. It’s not that the writing is bad by any means—in fact, I think Peter McLean is talented, and this book is going to find many readers who will love his style—but I couldn’t connect with Tomas to save my life. Not only was Tomas impossible to attach myself to, each character in this story was wholly unlikable for me. I usually love morally grey characters and antiheroes, so that wasn’t the problem—this massive cast of characters was mostly just simplified and uninteresting. The closest I ever came to caring about anyone was Tomas’ right-hand woman, Bloody Anne, a violent, angry lesbian with a scarred face and a terrible fear of magic. She’s likable enough at times, but even she just fell flat for me much of the time. On the flip side, the worst character for me by far was Ailsa, the potential love interest, whom I wanted to throttle every single step of the way. Harsh work, as I say, but we had done worse before. Every one of us had done worse. The world-building is another thing I want to comment on here, because I think it is going to be polarizing for a lot of readers. On one hand, the setting is really enjoyable; I love grimy city settings for stories, especially when crime lords and gangs are involved, and McLean’s writing is just atmospheric enough that you can feel the smog and filth of the surroundings. On the other hand, nothing feels built up enough. There’s a magic system that we learn very little about, and for there to be so much history in the city of Ellinburg, most of it seems to have been casually tossed away or swept under the rug. This is something that I suspect will be further fleshed out in the second book, but I still felt that it was worth mentioning for anyone who—like me—enjoys a lot of world-building in their fantasy series starters. On a more complimentary note, something I enjoyed was the fact that McLean doesn’t shy away from brutal topics (as you’ll see by the long list of content warnings I’ll insert at the end of this review), but all the same, most of those issues are challenged by Tomas’ narrative. He opens the book by murdering one of his own men right off the bat for attempted rape, and that absolutely sets the tone for what an honorable man Tomas is at heart. Everything he does is for the sake of the citizens of Ellinburg and his loved ones, and it lends an interesting side of nobility to him. My only complaint regarding the content warnings below is the endless fat-shaming regarding one of his men. It doesn’t carry any real venom, and it’s casual enough that most readers will miss it, but it is so constant; the man’s nickname is literally ‘Fat Luka’, and we can’t spend a single scene with him without a comment being made on his appearance, despite the fact that what should be the focal point is what an incredibly valuable asset he becomes to Tomas. Instead, it often felt like Luka’s triumphs were constantly overshadowed by his size. Our Lady doesn’t help. Not ever. She doesn’t answer prayers or grant boons or give a man anything at all, however hard he might pray for it. At the end of the day, Priest of Bones is not a bad story. McLean has some really enjoyable storytelling qualities, I loved the setting, and the plot itself is fine, if a bit unremarkable. Given the lack of attachment to the narrative, the fact that I couldn’t connect to the characters, and the gradual realization I had that I simply did not care about how the story will end, I can’t recommend it for anyone whose reading tastes match mine. That said, this is the kind of story that will have its intended audience, and if you think there’s even a slim chance you may be in that group, I strongly suggest picking up a copy and trying it for yourself. Content warnings for sexual assault, pedophilia, fat-shaming, abuse (physical, sexual, verbal, emotional), homophobia, genital mutilation, frequent violence/death, torture, blackmail, child prostitution, alcoholism, substance abuse. Thank you so much to Ace Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review! --- Buddy read with Kaleena—check out her review, too, for a more positive take on this story!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)

    Damn that was one hell of a story! It is, without a doubt, my most favorite book of 2018. McLean wrote you got to have "the right man, for the right job, always" well McLean was the right man to write The Pious Men's story! He fucking nailed it! *I received this ARC from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marielle

    What a wonderfully fun book to read! It reminded me in many ways of The Burned Man books, Drake and Thomas have some similarities. Thomas and Bloody Anne are amazing characters. Thomas is quite the crimeboss, Godfather-style but has his heart in the right place. In other reviews I read about comparisons to Peaky Blinders and The Godfather and I totally get that! Loved it and will definitly read Priest Of Lies!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    It’s Peaky Binders With Swords: Revealing the Cover of Peter McLean’s Priest of Bones You don't say ... *preorders* (I just binged all of Peaky Blinders last month so this post couldn't be more timely.) But now I must wait until October for this book ...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mihir

    Full review over at Fantasy Book Critic OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Priest Of Bones is Peter McLean’s fantasy debut and one that will certainly mark his name in the annals of grimdark fantasy. Priest Of Bones is a book that focuses on Tomas Piety and his soldiers who wish to return to their home town of Ellingburg from a war that even though their nation has won, it was a pyrrhic victory through and through. The story begins with Tomas and his men who find themselves homesick and home bound as Tomas' yo Full review over at Fantasy Book Critic OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Priest Of Bones is Peter McLean’s fantasy debut and one that will certainly mark his name in the annals of grimdark fantasy. Priest Of Bones is a book that focuses on Tomas Piety and his soldiers who wish to return to their home town of Ellingburg from a war that even though their nation has won, it was a pyrrhic victory through and through. The story begins with Tomas and his men who find themselves homesick and home bound as Tomas' younger brother Jochan Piety and his band of men happen upon them as well. Tomas has a lot of special folks in his unit like his sergeant Bloody Anne, Sir Eland, Cookpot, Billy the boy etc. His crew is one of soldiers whose mettle has been tested and they have proven themselves multiple times over. Before the war, Tomas had multiple business holdings which he plans to takeover and enjoy the good life. Things however turn out a bit differently as he finds a big surprise for him in his hometown. He will have to return to his days of being a wise guy gangster before he learnt to be a soldier and a priest. Things then take a darker turn as we find out about the true workings of the city of Ellingburg as well as the past of the Piety family. Peter McLean has previously written a horror urban fantasy and it was starkly different than what was then being published in the urban fantasy genre. He does something different with this opening salvo as well. Priest Of Bones is the first volume of the War Of The Rose Throne and it is a bloody, dark, vicious, slim volume of a book. There are many things to like about it, for me the prime highlight was the characterization as even though the story is solely presented from the first person perspective of Tomas Piety. All the characters presented are vividly described and will stand out in the reader's mind starkly. Be it Bloody Anne or Tomas’ aunt Enaid or dangerous bête noire Ma Aditi or even bit characters like Billy the boy who I believe deserves a bigger role in the upcoming sequel as do the aforementioned characters. Peter absolutely nails each and every character down as they struggle with their morals as well as visceral needs. In a world wherein survival is often dependent on wits, wiles and weapons. Truth, decency and morality often are shorn in favor of survival instinct. It’s a stark representation of Darwin’s law in a secondary fantasy world and the author showcases it brilliantly. Characters will die as newer ones are introduced and none are more fascinating than Tomas Piety, ruthless gang boss, brilliant commander and a consecrated priest of the Lady Of Eternal Sorrows. Tomas truly shines as he slowly unfolds himself from his militaristic roles and slips back into his previous occupation as the leader of the Pious Men. There’s much more to Tomas as the reader learns and they learn quite a bit as to why he’s so different than his younger hotheaded, fierce warrior of a brother Jochan. Why Billy the boy listens to his orders and yet also serves as his confessional priest (the only one tending to Tomas). Why Bloody Anne being the ruthless warrior she is, still looks on to his commands and why Ma Aditi, most dreaded gangster and feared by the constabulary, royals as well as the common populace counts him and him only as her foe. Tomas is a leader and an alpha for sure but he’s not brilliant yet foolhardy like Locke Lamora, neither is he a deadly but cursed warrior like Logen “The Bloody Nine”. He’s the fantasy equivalent of Michael Corleone, a ruthless and brilliant man who can shed his morals upon the circumstantial dictates and do the unthinkable to make sure of his victory. This book heavily reminds one of the Cosa Nostra methods and measures espoused within The Godfather series of books and I believe it might not be an accident. Some reviewers have compared it to the TV show Peaky Blinders but since I haven’t watched it at all, I can’t comment on it. The world showcased within is a shaky one wherein gangs are often double-crossing each other and the nobility likes to play within these shadows as well. I enjoyed this aspect of the book and for those who like a bit of political machinations within their stories, will certainly enjoy this story. Amidst all of this savagery, the author veritably showcases the humanity of the people within. This is a hard task but it’s done adroitly by Peter McLean as he shows us how scary monsters like Jochan came to be. Plus in that moment, you feel the savage brutality of the world as well as the keen sense of sympathy for folks whom you would have never guessed. It’s not just with one character but many others and I enjoyed this aspect whilst having to steel my mind against the very horrendous crimes committed (trigger warning for paedophilia). This book while high on crime and intrigue doesn’t disappoint with the action sequences. There’s enough action both of a personal and large scale nature to keep fantasy readers engrossed as well a very vivid climatic homage to The Godfather. I loved reading it and would be overjoyed to see it translated on the big screen. Lastly there’s some crucial hints dropped about the nature of the conflict as well as the upheavals in the city of Ellingburg. I enjoyed how the author makes this book a strong mix of low fantasy as well as a crime thriller but yet at the same time, there are bigger machinations on the horizon (both magical and illicit). This is just the opening salvo and yet it left me desperately wanting more. There were just a few minor niggles for me, primarily the character of Billy the boy is given a small role but his actions are vastly important and so I had hoped for more of an explanation about him and his past. While none is found in this volume, I hope the author changes it in the sequels. Secondly the worldbuilding is on the leaner side and I really was hoping to know more about the nation, the previous war, the history, etc. Lastly the plot ends on a small cliffhanger and for those who don’t like them, be on the watchout as you will experience one which might leave you thoroughly teased for the sequel "Priest Of Lies". CONCLUSION: Priest Of Bones is a magnificent crime thriller that’s set in a secondary fantasy world. Most crime readers would be forgiven if they momentarily forgot that this isn’t set on Earth but some other world. Peter McLean proves himself to a very adapt writer and joins the pantheon of brilliant British minds such as J. Abercrombie, M. Billingham, M. Lawrence, D. Mina, etc. Priest Of Bones is that rare title that straddles two different genres and showcases the brilliance of both.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adah Udechukwu

    Priest of Bones was spectacular. There was no dull moment.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bob Milne

    Wow. Apparently, it's been over a year since I last did a catch-up post, and almost eight months since my last DNF review. I'm not sure if that's more a reflection of what's been landing on my shelf, or simply me being more selective on what I choose to read, but it's encouraging. First up is Priest of Bones, the low, grimdark fantasy from Peter McLean that everybody seems to be raving about, and which is being favorably compared to the likes of The Lies of Locke Lamora. You know what? For the ri Wow. Apparently, it's been over a year since I last did a catch-up post, and almost eight months since my last DNF review. I'm not sure if that's more a reflection of what's been landing on my shelf, or simply me being more selective on what I choose to read, but it's encouraging. First up is Priest of Bones, the low, grimdark fantasy from Peter McLean that everybody seems to be raving about, and which is being favorably compared to the likes of The Lies of Locke Lamora. You know what? For the right reader, in the right mood, it's probably a solid read . . . but I'm not the former, and apparently not in the latter. Even were I to put my boredom with the grimdark genre aside, this feels like it's just trying too hard, putting far too much effort into shock and not enough into awe. The cruelty, rape, and sexualized violence against young boys and prostitutes certainly didn't help. Tomas was marginally interesting as a protagonist, and I genuinely liked Bloody Anne, but I think it was when the book went all-out Godfather that I realized the match between book and reader just wasn't going to work. I seem to be in the minority, though, so don't let my opinion hold you back.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anna Spark

    What can I say? Superb. And that most over-used, often entirely inaccurate, term, 'fresh'. This is epic fantasy as historical fiction. It could be historical fiction - the language and the setting are convincingly Tudor; issues such as magic arise very naturally, part of these characters' world-view; there's an interiority, a convincing sense of real people in a real, messy world, that's rare in fantasy. And the language is superb, also - a strong, clear voice, very real and with a real poetry t What can I say? Superb. And that most over-used, often entirely inaccurate, term, 'fresh'. This is epic fantasy as historical fiction. It could be historical fiction - the language and the setting are convincingly Tudor; issues such as magic arise very naturally, part of these characters' world-view; there's an interiority, a convincing sense of real people in a real, messy world, that's rare in fantasy. And the language is superb, also - a strong, clear voice, very real and with a real poetry to it. I was reminded of Wolf Hall, in fact. The setting is of course similar - hard man returns from the wars and gets dragged into political intrigues, while reflecting on his past and his place in the world - but more deeply there was something in the language, the evocation of the early-modern city and the emerging early modern 'new man', that evokes Mantel's masterpiece. Plus it was just a lot of fun. If you like fantasy and historical fiction, just read this.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    Sixty-five thousand battle-shocked, trained killers came home to no jobs, no food, and the plague. What the fuck did Her Majesty think was going to happen? Can you guess? If you have any doubts, McLean will give you a violent and profane answer on pages of Priest of Bones. After being away at war for many years, Tomas Piety, a nefarious crime lord turned priest, comes back to his native city, Ellinburg. Someone has taken over his illegal businesses. His people have lost their wealth, and the city Sixty-five thousand battle-shocked, trained killers came home to no jobs, no food, and the plague. What the fuck did Her Majesty think was going to happen? Can you guess? If you have any doubts, McLean will give you a violent and profane answer on pages of Priest of Bones. After being away at war for many years, Tomas Piety, a nefarious crime lord turned priest, comes back to his native city, Ellinburg. Someone has taken over his illegal businesses. His people have lost their wealth, and the city is in ruin. With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas embroils himself in cutthroat politics and savage fights to win back Ellinburg.  The story, told from a first-person perspective of Tomas, develops at a breakneck pace and holds no punches. He’s a cruel crime lord who delivers harsh justice to those who oppose him. We observe through his eyes as a deadly wave of gang warfare is gripping the streets of Ellinburg with the corrupted police not even trying to contain the rising tide of bloodshed. I wouldn’t call the level of violence shocking (especially for seasoned grimdark readers), but what we get is quite graphic.  I expected to hate Tomas, but I find him intriguing. Make no mistake - he’s not a good guy. But I enjoyed his pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to life and people and his personal code of ethics (no rape, loyalty to his people, judging others by their talents and not race, gender or sexual orientation). The rest of his crew comprises colourful rogues (lesbian warrior Bloody Anne, his traumatized and crazy brother Jochan, a boy with magical talent and others). They were all distinct and memorable. I liked that. McLean’s writing is punchy, precise and fast-paced. Combined with short chapters it almost forces the reader to race through the pages. I found the book hard to put down. I can’t wait to learn more about bigger conflict and to discover Bloodhands’ agenda. I don’t know about you, but I’ll grab the sequel as soon as I’ll have a chance.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard Nell

    Overall 8.2/10 A stylish, rather unique book that felt like the literary version of an action/mobster flick. The protagonist is likable, we're brought into the story deftly, you don't need to do a lot of thinking, and it's not hard to get involved and stay involved. Easy recommend for pretty much any fantasy fan looking for something on the 'light' side of darker fantasy. Setting/World-building A sort of lowish magic, industrial-revolution era setting. There's explosives and in theory guns and cann Overall 8.2/10 A stylish, rather unique book that felt like the literary version of an action/mobster flick. The protagonist is likable, we're brought into the story deftly, you don't need to do a lot of thinking, and it's not hard to get involved and stay involved. Easy recommend for pretty much any fantasy fan looking for something on the 'light' side of darker fantasy. Setting/World-building A sort of lowish magic, industrial-revolution era setting. There's explosives and in theory guns and cannon, but it's basically all swords in this first urban story. For the entirety of the book we're in the dirty, industrial city of Ellinburg, and only on a few streets of it, at that. Most people are powerless and poor - ruled by several rising tiers of thugs, from low-level gangsters, to corrupt officials, to scheming nobility. There's Priests and religion, magic and witchcraft, but none of it seems to play much of a role in people's lives. In the midst of this chaos and squalor, on the bad side of famine, war and disease, the Piety boys carve out their piece of the pie. Plot In short: a former gangster turned soldier returns to being a gangster. His businesses have all been taken over by rivals, but with his small, loyal(ish) crew, Tomas Piety and his crazy brother intend to take it all back. Other than a small twist or two, that is indeed what you get. So I would never call this plot 'epic fantasy', it's just fantasy. For those interested in a simpler story this might be ideal. Characters There's a lot of them, but actually the book pulls it off rather well with nicknames and repetition. In the spirit of any good mob story, the characters are memorable (if sometimes a bit shallow), their pasts and quirks and names are fun and a big appeal of the book. Our protagonist, Tomas Piety, leads them all through some combination of cunning, ruthlessness and charm. He's a good narrator and does pretty well convincing you of his own importance - of the inevitability of his rise. He's kind of shockingly modern in his sensibilities, particularly for a mob boss. He's not OK with drugs or violence against women, nor is he out to steal from anyone, not even the nobility. In fact he's plumb terrified of the Queen. Writing Probably the strongest aspect of the book. The writing really draws you in and carries the story. Tomas has a distinct voice that kept my attention, even if I was a little tired of the 'to my minds' and 'the right man for the right jobs' and the 'he was, at thats'. Ultimately, I'd be happy reading more books narrated by our Mr. Piety. Final thoughts I quite enjoyed this. It's very fast, very readable, and it stuck to its plot like concrete shoes. If you're looking for an accessible, darkish fantasy, particularly if you're not a die-hard fantasy fan, this would be a great place to start. You can find this and many other reviews of great fantasy books on fantasybookreview.co.uk

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kaleena ★ Reader Voracious

    "Ellinburg is corrupt to the core," she said. "From Governor Hauer on down, the city all but stands on the shoulders of its underworld." Priest of Bones is the first installment of the new grimdark fantasy series War for the Rose Throne. If you are like me and love morally grey characters and anti-heroes, then you will love Priest of Bones! Tomas Piety is an army priest who prior to being conscripted to fight in the war was the boss of the Pious Men, a gang that ruled the streets of Ellinburg "Ellinburg is corrupt to the core," she said. "From Governor Hauer on down, the city all but stands on the shoulders of its underworld." Priest of Bones is the first installment of the new grimdark fantasy series War for the Rose Throne. If you are like me and love morally grey characters and anti-heroes, then you will love Priest of Bones! Tomas Piety is an army priest who prior to being conscripted to fight in the war was the boss of the Pious Men, a gang that ruled the streets of Ellinburg known as the Stink. When he and what's left of his men return home, he finds that he's been dethroned by some opportunistic outsiders as the Prince of the Stink. In true grimdark fashion, the world of Ellinburg is bleak. There's disease, people are hungry, and work is hard to come by. While Tomas "cared" for those in his streets that pay taxes for protection, in turn providing them with work and food if needed, the people who stole his crime empire while he was at war did nothing for the people of the Stink. The war may have ended, but the world is a violent place. Priest of Bones is told in Tomas' first person perspective as he is writing down the story, writing directly to the reader. Tomas has a characteristic wit and an ego to boot, and I found the narrative full of his boasting about how he knows to lead men and how smart he is which I found a little tiresome at times, but at least his strategic mind backed up his ego. With his Pious Men, he fights to reclaim his businesses and right the wrongs of the streets. His protection may not come for free, but he takes care of his people. There is a large cast of characters and thankfully there is a Dramatis Personae at the beginning of the book that lists all of the characters - I referred to it quite often because I found that most characters were a bit two-dimensional and difficult to keep track of. The main characters of Tomas, Anne, Billy the Boy, and Jochan were a bit more fleshed out but I look forward to seeing some character growth in the continuation of the series as I think some interesting arcs have been set up for them. I do wish that more time had been spent to worldbuilding in this book; however, there is a good amount of explanation about the religious systems and a taste of the political intrigue that begins to play a role in this book and will be front and center in the next one. I would have liked to learn more about the overall world itself, its history, the magic system/cunning (I honestly have no idea, but I think that is the point as the characters don't either), and a bit more about the Queens Men. That being said, I really enjoy worldbuilding a lot and for a lot of readers what is provided will be enough! This is a gritty, dark, and violent book. I have an extensive list of content warnings at the end of the review, but I do want to say that all of it is addressed in the text through Tomas' character. He is about as morally grey as you can get... an anti-hero with strict rules. It took me awhile to settle into the narrative, but even then I was drawn in immediately with the wit and humor of the narrator. Overall I enjoyed this plot-driven book and will definitely continue with the series! CONTENT WARNINGS (all addressed in the text): abuse, religious homophobia, genital mutilation, war, murder, death, sexual abuse, prostitution, patricide, killing of innocents, child prostitution Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication. Priest of Bones will be released on October 2, 2018. 🤝 Buddy read with Destiny from Howling Libraries Blog | Twitter | Pinterest!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    3.75 stars This is what happens, I thought, when you cross me. Tomas Piety once ran a gang, known as the Pious Men, out of the streets of Ellinburg, an industrial town, along with his younger, more volatile brother, Jochan. Conscripted into the army, both brothers went off to fight in the Queen's war. Now, three years later, they've returned to their old neighborhood to find that their business interests have been usurped. It's not a simple case of rival gangs fighting for their patch though as To 3.75 stars This is what happens, I thought, when you cross me. Tomas Piety once ran a gang, known as the Pious Men, out of the streets of Ellinburg, an industrial town, along with his younger, more volatile brother, Jochan. Conscripted into the army, both brothers went off to fight in the Queen's war. Now, three years later, they've returned to their old neighborhood to find that their business interests have been usurped. It's not a simple case of rival gangs fighting for their patch though as Tomas soon discovers that there are larger forces at work. It took me awhile to get into this story. For the first third or so I wasn't liking any of the characters all that much but that all changed somewhat by the end. By then the author was starting to fill out some of the back stories for some of the main characters which helped me relate to them better. This has a very Peaky Blinders feel to it and if you aren't familiar with the criminally enterprising Shelby clan then what are you waiting for? Get thee to Netflix pronto! One quibble I had while reading this is the sheer number of times that the author repeats certain phrases or reminds readers of a particular thing. Phrases like "I can't let it pass", "to my mind", "these were the times we lived in", "harsh justice", and more. By around chapter 12, Tomas reminds readers that Bloody Anne is his Second 15 times, at one point twice in the same paragraph (which is about the time I stopped counting). Hopefully that's a writing habit that will be overcome at some point.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Being a soldier in a war is going to leave a mark on anyone. Tomas Piety has returned home a changed man. He has had his fill of blood and violence. The only problem is the city where he lives is corrupt to the core. Ellinburgh, Old Reekie to the locals, is run by gangs and before he left for the war, Tomas was one of the biggest bosses. His gang, the Pious Men, controlled an area called The Stink with ruthless efficiency. Now, Tomas and his men are back, and much as he might wish to walk away f Being a soldier in a war is going to leave a mark on anyone. Tomas Piety has returned home a changed man. He has had his fill of blood and violence. The only problem is the city where he lives is corrupt to the core. Ellinburgh, Old Reekie to the locals, is run by gangs and before he left for the war, Tomas was one of the biggest bosses. His gang, the Pious Men, controlled an area called The Stink with ruthless efficiency. Now, Tomas and his men are back, and much as he might wish to walk away from it, his old life is calling. Tomas is going to take back what once was his and if he needs to kill to do that, then so be it. Tomas Piety is a character of contrasts. On one hand you have the world-weary soldier, looking for nothing but a quiet life. On the other hand, he is also Tomas Piety, leader of the Pious Men, driven by the morally ambiguous code of the criminal classes. There is a constant battle going on within the man. How can he ever hope to be all things to all people? This inner turmoil makes for a fascinating protagonist. Piety’s second in command is the aptly named Bloody Anne. As seasoned a soldier as her commander, she is tough as nails and more than a match for anyone. Once again, the author does a great job creating a multi layered character whose depths you only discover the further you read. There is no doubt that Anne is a loyal and tenacious warrior, but in her own way, she is just as damaged as everyone else. The final standout character is Tomas’ brother, Jochan. In less skilled hands, Jochan could have easily become a caricature of a war veteran turned gang member. Instead, his character is also fully realised. He is far more than just a simple soldier. There is a history that has shaped Jochan’s attitudes. Those of you who are fans of Peaky Blinders may spot passing similarities between this book and the tv show, and I think it is fair to say that the Piety family and the Shelbys are cut from the same cloth. Jochan Piety and Arthur Shelby are certainly two peas from the same pod. I can see them sharing a beer or twelve in The Tanners Arms or The Garrison and getting on like a house on fire… or possibly trying to kill one another. The jury is still out to be honest. Neither man would admit to it, but both have been hopelessly traumatised by war. They are driven by pure rage and animal instinct. Violence and alcohol are the only fuel that allows either man to function. Where Priest of Bones excels over its televisual cousin is that we get far more insight with McLean’s characters. Their motivations and reactions are easier to appreciate due to the novel’s taut narrative. I guess that’s one area where books will always have the edge over tv. The rest of the Pious Men are just as low born as their leaders, even if some might try to pretend otherwise. They come from the dirt and they all know they are likely destined to end up back there. Piety and co are proud of where they come from. You also pick up on that brotherhood and sense of easy camaraderie that only exists between people who have suffered and survived together. I’ve always been a fan of the idea that a city has multiple faces. The thin veneer of civility and society is what we see in the daytime, but at night when there are dark deeds to be done the city shows us its other face. The Pious men exist in a world of rough gambling dens, rough pubs and even rougher brothels. In a certain light there is a delightfully grimy feeling to Ellinburgh, a brutal unashamed honesty to the streets. Excuse me as I get all misty eyed, reminds me of my hometown on a Saturday night. I’ll admit to already being a big fan of Peter McLean’s previous novels. I’m reviewed them all on this very website. They are great, urban fantasy-flavoured fun but Priest of Bones feels like next level stuff. This novel marks a writer coming of age. I loved it all, it’s damned near perfect. McLean deftly explores the nature of war, loyalty, revenge and redemption, whilst crafting a truly engaging tale. Action, introspection, wicked sharp blades and copious amounts of cheap brandy are the order of the day. It turns out down and dirty crime novels with a razor-sharp fantastical edge are my new favourite thing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Johnston

    What a tremendous book! Fast paced, great and flawed characters, dark and dangerous and very more-ish. I also greatly appreciate a book 1 of a series that works as a standalone novel with a self-contained satisfying ending. I like big and sprawling adventuresome fantasy as much as the next guy, but sometimes it's refreshing to read something on a smaller scale, taking place on the mean streets of a single city. It's more personal. It's like Lies of Locke Lamora, Low Town, and The Godfather all ro What a tremendous book! Fast paced, great and flawed characters, dark and dangerous and very more-ish. I also greatly appreciate a book 1 of a series that works as a standalone novel with a self-contained satisfying ending. I like big and sprawling adventuresome fantasy as much as the next guy, but sometimes it's refreshing to read something on a smaller scale, taking place on the mean streets of a single city. It's more personal. It's like Lies of Locke Lamora, Low Town, and The Godfather all rolled into one - and it is flipping fantastic. 'Businessman' Tomas Piety is back from the war he was conscripted into, traumatised by death, destruction, plague and famine. He returns home to find his old businesses and streets taken over by another gang who are grinding everybody into poverty. He won't stand for that. What's his is his and he'll have it back, and he'll look after the people on his streets doing it. The characters are varied, vivid and real, the magic is mysterious and intriguing, and the action bloody and brutal. Fans of grimdark, dark fantasy, or dare I say, crime fiction will love this. Roll on book 2! I cannot wait.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anna Stephens

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received an ARC of Priest of Bones in return for an honest review. What can I say? The politics of The Godfather meets the grit of Gangs of New York, Priest of Bones is a dark, dirty, foul-mouthed triumph of grimdark gangster heist novels. If Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch) had a bigger, uglier, more violent brother, his name would be Tomas Piety. Tomas Piety is our first-person narrator, and he does a really good job of both justifying his crimes and committing acts of horrific violence - and yet I received an ARC of Priest of Bones in return for an honest review. What can I say? The politics of The Godfather meets the grit of Gangs of New York, Priest of Bones is a dark, dirty, foul-mouthed triumph of grimdark gangster heist novels. If Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch) had a bigger, uglier, more violent brother, his name would be Tomas Piety. Tomas Piety is our first-person narrator, and he does a really good job of both justifying his crimes and committing acts of horrific violence - and yet readers can't help but love him. Amid the violence and the stink of the Ellinburg, though, there's camaraderie and trust, concern for the wellbeing of the poor and a rusty sort of honour among thieves. Tomas' crew, the Pious Men, are fresh back from the war and the depiction of PTSD in this book is done very well - even if the crew don't necessarily deal with it as we do today. There are some pretty heavy themes including abuse, as well as the aforementioned PTSD and extreme violence, so it's not a book to be opened if you're looking for a light romp through a fantasy world. It is, however, extremely compelling, hence me reading it in three days. There's also a LGBT storyline (which I don't class as a "heavy theme", by the way), which was very well handled, especially with the baggage surrounding one of those characters, and that arc was done excellently throughout the novel. The book releases in October, I believe, and should be high on everyone's 'to buy immediately' list.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Full review is here, on my blog!~ Wow this book was really engaging and hard to put down! This is the story (mostly) of Tomas Piety, who is the leader of the Pious Men, a sort of crime syndicate or gang. He, his brother and their men were conscripted into a war three years earlier and now that the war is over, and won, they’ve come back to their city to find that all their businesses are gone, the brothel is burned down, the prized racehorse killed, and the aunt that they left in charge a nun. So T Full review is here, on my blog!~ Wow this book was really engaging and hard to put down! This is the story (mostly) of Tomas Piety, who is the leader of the Pious Men, a sort of crime syndicate or gang. He, his brother and their men were conscripted into a war three years earlier and now that the war is over, and won, they’ve come back to their city to find that all their businesses are gone, the brothel is burned down, the prized racehorse killed, and the aunt that they left in charge a nun. So Tomas, now a priest of the goddess of soldiers, a position that put him in charge of his regiment when the captain died, is going to take it all back. But it won’t be easy, and there will certainly be shenanigans involved. Probably a little stabbing too. Just a little. Tomas is an easy character to root for, even if he definitely isn’t necessarily a good man. He’s not inherently a bad dude, but he’ll do whatever is necessary to reach his goals. He’s morally grey, I suppose. He is often snarky, and often rather dangerous, and when he finds himself in a position where he can’t give an inch without losing face, he will not give an inch. This story is told in the first person from Tomas’ POV, in what felt like a memoir, and I really liked that. Tomas has a really strong voice, and he is really the perfect person to tell it like it is. Some of his gang-mates are interesting as well. Bloody Anne is a good character, who is a good second to Tomas. Jochan, who is Tomas’ brother, is also an interesting character, if not particularly likable. He’s rather crazy, is Jochan. Billy the Boy was a really interesting character, who I wondered about a lot. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes. Many characters here to like or to not like. This book occasionally talks about some difficult subjects, and man, it got me right in the feels at times. Unexpectedly so. I wasn’t expecting to get overly emotional while reading a book that was more or less about a street gang. But here we are. Surprise emoting is… good emoting? :D There is so much delightful swearing in this one, I felt right at home, but if swearing is not your jam, then probably skip this one, as it is swear-tacular. <3 All told, I really liked this one. It was fast paced enough that I never wanted to put it down, and slow-paced enough that I wanted to read it slowly and savor it. Also that ending was just… wow. I also have to say that with the right narrator, this book is going to be a phenomenal audiobook. I might just have to investigate that! I’ll definitely be picking up more of McLean’s work because wooow! Thanks to the author, as well as Ace via NetGalley for the review copy. :)

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