Priest of Gallows (War for the Rose Throne #3) by Peter McLean

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Brilliant

Seriously, I don’t need five words for my short review here – one will suffice.  Brilliant.  I absolutely loved this third instalment in the War for the Rose Throne in fact I can honestly say that not only was this my favourite book in the series so far but quite possibly one of the best books I’ve read for a long time.

This is not a series that you will want to crash into part way through.  In fact part of the real pull for me with the War for the Rose Throne is the fascinating way that the story and characters have evolved with each book.  Our main character, Tomas Piety, started the series returning to his home town following the end of the war and that first book had a gangster fantasy feel with Tomas slowly rising in power in Ellinburg.  The second instalment increased Tomas’s fortunes and brought him to the attention of the Queen’s Men.  He continued to rise in fortune, becoming Governor, but started to question where he was really heading.  Book 3 firmly cements Tomas’s position into the Queen’s Men and although he enjoys certain aspects, being knighted for example, Priest of Gallows really throws him into shark infested waters.  If you haven’t read the previous two instalments, well, I would suggest you do so, if you love fantasy then you simply have to read this series, but, also be aware that this review could include spoilers.

I’m not going to go into the plot other than to say – the Queen is dead and those who seek power are circling, pulling strings and manipulating the situation to their own advantage.  We learn that life in the capital, for all it’s nobles and finery, is little more than an exaggerated version of life on the gang infested streets of Ellinburg.  The people here live in fine houses and dress in fine clothes but the desire for power and wealth are much the same no matter how they dress and behave.  The only real difference here is that this is a fight for absolute power and the fights have the potential to morph into all out war.

The Queen’s Men, of which Tomas is now firmly a part, are like a secret force that are dreaded among the populace.  They’re talked of with fear, people warn their children about the Queen’s Men taking them away if they’re naughty, they’re like the bogeyman but worse and Tomas is now one of their number.  What really comes through here is how much Tomas is out of his depth.  This is a feeling that started in Priest of Lies and increased here.  Tomas finds himself really struggling to know who to trust.  Thankfully he has Bloody Anne, Rose and Billy accompanying him, characters that he knows have his back.  Ailsa also plays a role.  Estranged from Tomas since the Priest of Lies, their marriage was little more than a foil, but Tomas finds that he has feelings for Ailsa, as much as he tries not to and struggles to determine whether she is actually friend or foe.  We are introduced to Tomas’s counterparts in the Queen’s Men.  These are a mixed bag of characters with few redeeming qualities among their lot – some of them very appropriately named.  I love the politics at play here and the way the city is eventually whipped up into a frenzy, puppets whose strings are masterfully pulled by the Provost Marshal, Dieter Vogel.  Now the most powerful man in the City.  A man with a long vision who is not to be defied.

I have to say that I love the way McLean writes.  I found this book remarkably easy to get along with.  He has a way of simply pulling you immediately into the world.  Tomas isn’t necessarily a lovable character for example, and yet at the same time I find myself liking him.  He isn’t soft and cuddly and nor are the people he surrounds himself with.  They’re all sharp edged and hard, unafraid to do what is necessary and basically all soldiers at heart, they take orders and carry them out, as distasteful as those orders might sometimes be.  But, yes, they’re likable and they have won me over.

The other thing that I really love about this series is the overall message.  As we began, war was finally over, the battle hardened and weary soldiers returned home, traumatised by what they’d done and seen, now as the pages close on this third instalment, the inevitability of war yet again looms.  If history teaches us anything it’s that the same mistakes are likely to be repeated over and over again as the people in charge throw the public at large underneath the wheels of their gilded carriages in search of yet more power.

In case you haven’t guessed.  I’m absolutely loving this series and Priest of Gallows is my favourite instalment to date I can’t wait to read the final instalment, although ultimately I’m also scared for some of these characters that I’ve become so attached to.

I highly recommend the War for the Rose Throne.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 grim and bloody stars

5 Responses to “Priest of Gallows (War for the Rose Throne #3) by Peter McLean”

  1. Tammy

    So glad to hear you loved this. I’m behind, unfortunately, so I won’t be reading this anytime soon, but you’ve definitely made me want to catch up with book two.

  2. pagesandtea

    This is a series that has passed me by somehow but from what you say it sounds like it might be worth starting at the beginning, perhaps something to consider when/if I get through my Dark Tower reread 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I recently added book 1 of this series to my TBR, so I’m more than happy to learn that the saga keeps growing stronger and ends on such a high note 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Booking Ahead/Weekly/Monthly Wrap Up | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] good.  This week I’ve read three books and started two more.  I read and already reviewed The Priest of Gallows by Peter McLean – spoiler alert – it was very good.  I’ve also read and enjoyed […]

  5. sjhigbee

    I’ve made a note of the series, Lynn. Thank you for an excellent review – but right now, I’m going to pass. I’ve got quite a lot of series I’m juggling with and something quite so grim and bloody isn’t what I’m looking for right now.

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