Can’t Wait Wednesday : Priest of Crowns (War for the Rose Throne #4) by Peter McLean

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Priest of Crowns (War for the Rose Throne #4) by Peter McLean.  I am loving this series and can’t wait for this.  Here’s the cover and description:

Priestofcrowns

‘Praise be to Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows, and blessed be the Ascended Martyr.’ Those were the words on lips of the faithful: Blessed be the Ascended Martyr, and woe betide you if you thought otherwise. The word Unbeliever had become a death sentence on the streets in those days.

Gangster, soldier, priest. Governor, knight, and above all, Queen’s Man.

Once, Tomas Piety looked after his men, body and soul, as best he could. Then those who ran his country decided his dark talents would better serve in the corridors of power.

Crushed by the power of the Queen’s Men and with the Skanian menace rising once more on the streets of Ellinburg, Tomas Piety is forced to turn to old friends, old debts and untrustworthy alliances.

Meanwhile in the capital city of Dannsburg, Dieter Vogel is beginning to wonder if the horror he has unleashed in the Martyr’s Disciples might be getting out of control.

With revolution brewing and tragedy and terrorism running rife in the cities, Piety and Vogel must each weigh the cost of a crown.

Expected publication : April 2022

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

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Priest of Gallows (War for the Rose Throne #3) by Peter McLean

Can't Wait Wednesday
“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Priest of Gallows (War for the Rose Throne #3) by Peter McLean. I am so excited for this one: PriestofGallowsGangster, soldier, priest. Queen’s Man. Governor. Tomas Piety has everything he ever wanted. In public he’s a wealthy, highly respected businessman, happily married to a beautiful woman and Governor of his home city of Ellinburg. In private, he’s no longer a gang lord but one of the Queen’s Men, invisible and officially non-existent, working in secret to protect his country. But when the queen’s sudden death sees him summoned back to the capital, he discovers his boss, Dieter Vogel, Provost Marshal of the Queen’s Men, is busy tightening his stranglehold on the country. Just as he once fought for his Pious Men, he must now bend all his wit and hard-won wisdom to protect his queen – but now he can’t always tell if he’s on the right side. Tomas has started to ask himself, what is the price of power? And more importantly, is it one he is willing to pay? Expected Publication : May 2021

Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean #PriestOfLies

Today I’m really pleased to be taking part in the blog blast organised by Jo Fletcher Books which coincides with the release of Priest of Lies.  The second book in a series that I highly recommend.  See details about the other blogs taking part in the banner below and give them a visit if you have the chance.

Priestof

Before I start this review I would just give a warning that it might contain spoilers for the first in series, Priest of Bones (my review is here).

I am loving this series.  It’s everything good that I hope for when I pick up a book.  The storyline has clearly been well plotted.  The strong foundations established in the first book are really well utilised and built upon here.  The characters are really coming to life and I find myself absolutely fascinated about what will come next.  On top of that we get to explore more of this world and that, coupled with wonderful pacing, made this a totally gripping read.

Once again the Prince of the People, Tomas Piety, priest, soldier, gangster, liar?, narrates his tale.  Piety has a very compelling way of telling his story.  He’s not a charmer precisely but he has enough self confidence to allow him to be refreshingly frank and this openness makes him a flawed but much more likable, or understandable character.  He certainly manages to get himself in a fix but it all feels really plausible – like his hands are tied and his choices limited.

Tomas has rebuilt his empire, he’s doing well, in fact if the measure of a man was judged by the weight of gold in their coffers then Tomas could be standing ten feet tall.  Of course, there is a but.  His marriage is a sham.  A cover for the intrigue carried out by Tomas’s wife, Ailsa, in the name of the Queen’s Men and in fact Tomas finds it difficult himself to forgive his wife for the carnage wrought by her plotting at the end of the first book. On top of this the scheming continues.  Tomas has achieved his goals, he’s won back his turf, and so the Pious Men can’t help but wonder why they’re trying to expand into other territory when this involves increased risk to the remaining gang members.  Basically, the Queen’s Men – in the form of Tomas’s wife are not yet finished.  War is looming and the only way to keep the fighting and carnage at bay is to stop the infiltration of the enemy at the door and this time around that involves a detour to the capital.

I thoroughly enjoyed this little jaunt.  It added an extra layer.  In Dannsburg Tomas is very much out of his depth.  His reputation doesn’t extend this far and he finds himself, instead of a big fish in a little pond he’s a little fish in a big pond where political sharks are circling and getting ready for the kill.  This was such a great change of tack.  The capital is very different to Ellinburg and the nobles’ disdain and casual indifference towards Tomas, his provincial accent and the small threat he poses to them is like a wake up call.  Tomas finds himself very much in need of Ailsa’s calm head and careful counsel although he does occasionally resort to brute force.  Even so, Tomas has to be careful, just like everyone else in the capital.  Speak out too loudly and you will simply disappear overnight.  The trip certainly gives Tomas a new found respect for his wife.

In terms of the characters the author really takes the opportunity to beef them up.  Of course, some characters have more page time than others – particularly once Tomas leaves Ellinburg for the capital but, even with the change in place I still felt like I had the opportunity to know everyone a little better.  I can’t deny that my favourites are Billy the Boy and Bloody Anne and I confess that the attachment I feel towards them is a little worrying – you just never know these days whether your favourite characters will survive or do something hideously treacherous and turn everything on its head .

The world building.  I get a great sense of place with this series.  I think when I reviewed Priest of Bones I mentioned that the place feels almost Dickensian.  The twisty streets, dark alleys and abject poverty of The Stink sharply contrasting with the wealth and opulence of the nobles, especially in Dannsburg.  Small surprise that some of the action has a French Revolution type feel when the poorest members of society finally snap.  I love the easy way that the place simply springs into the mind’s eye.

Overall I had a really good time with this in fact I think it exceeded my expectations by surpassing the first.  It still has that raw brutality and doesn’t shy away from bad language and violence but it is by no means as dark as some of the grimdark books I’ve read.

Incredibly entertaining, a great narrative voice and an ending that makes me anxious to pick up the next book in series.   This is a tale of an ambitious character, a slightly jaded world weary guy who’s successes only help to push him in a direction that doesn’t seem to make him happy.  The more wealth, power and respect that Tomas achieves the further away it pushes him from those he really cares about.  Be careful what you wish for I suppose.

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

Rating 5 of 5 stars

Blog Blast - 2nd July

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean.  I’m very excited to see what happens in book 2.  My review for Priest of Bones is here.

Priest of Lies.jpgTomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster…and spy. As Tomas’s power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.

People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become–until they can’t take it anymore. And when they rise up…may the gods help their oppressors.

When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen’s Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.

Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen’s Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.

In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people’s champion…or just a priest of lies.

Due for publication : July 2019

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