Author: Peter McLean Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Charming. Fast-paced. Gritty. The Priest of Bones was a novel that I came across when I wandered into a bookshop one day and was drawn to it due to it’s interesting blurb. A man who has been at war, coming back to his criminal empire in ruins was an a guaranteed pick up for myself. And after completing this novel, I was not disappointed in the slightest.
Priest of Bones follows a man known as Tomas Piety, who before the war ran a successful gang and held a number of establishments in his name. He and his gang were conscripted to war, which was bloody and brutal, turning this gang from thieves into warriors. On their return, Tomas finds that his territory is in ruins and his once successful business has been stolen away from him. Throughout the novel you get to know Tomas and his gang – which consists of a variety of different personalities and McLean has done a wonderful job making each of them feel unique and different.
Priest of Bones is a gritty novel, it feels like a mixture of fantasy and gang warfare. Like an old fashion London but with swords, blasting powders and magic. McLean eases you into his world, allowing you to become familiar with both the characters, their mission and the city they are trying to take back. But it isn’t long until the violence and fighting takes over. The inter politics within the novel, between the Pious Men (Tomas and his men), the government and rival gangs is handled tactfully. There was never a moment that felt out of place or forced – the moves by all the players felt meaningful and full of emotion. Reading Tomas’ own inner monologues as he manipulates the city guard or his decisions about how he manages his own gang, were all gripping and I always felt like I agreed with his logic. Tomas isn’t an evil man, he is actually trying to look after the people within the city but he wants to do it his way and by his rules, which sometimes leads to murder and exploitation.
What I really appreciated in this novel is the pacing. The pacing of this novel reminds me others books like The Hobbit or The Gatewatch – novels which are shorted in length but barely a word is wasted before the next event. Priest of Bones is an action packed thrill-ride from start to finish, and this doesn’t always mean fighting but sometimes its the scheming or political game playing between characters – reading this novel felt like a word was never wasted.
Overall, this is a brilliant novel and a series I can’t wait to delve into further. I highly recommend any fantasy to read this novel, especially readers who want something a little bit different in their fantasy and enjoy a rivalry between gangs.