Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Title: Priest of Bones.
Series: War for the Rose Throne #1.
Writer(s): Peter McLean.
Publisher: Ace Books.
Format: Advance Reading Copy.
Release Date: October 2nd 2018.
Pages: 352.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9780451490216.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.


If there’s one subject that has always fascinated me, it’s that of crime families and their racketeering within the community. Their role as mediators to issues between different actors is truly fascinating. Just look at their ability to charm individuals—sometimes through blackmail or force or both—to the point where they become the better alternative to legal institutions like the police. But under their masks which screams a desire to be an indispensable source for every citizen, especially in terms of protection, is also a desire for power and control. It is that factor that turns their presence and their expansion so beautiful and dangerous, and even more so once we take into account rivals who live with similar objectives as their guidelines to success in life.

Priest of Bones is the story of army priest and crime boss Tomas Piety. Upon returning from a dreaded and unforgettable war, his crew and he realize that his empire of crime was robbed from him. If anything, Tomas Piety has no plans to let this pass and looks to put his gang of Pious Men back on the radar of those who thought of them dead and gone. As he attempts to slowly claim back his business and stolen territories right in the heart of Ellingberg, he unfortunately also finds himself entangled in a web of political intrigue that he must secretly handle for the Queen’s Men. If Tomas Piety thought that he had already seen the worse during the war he fought, he’s about to be dragged right back into an even more dangerous and costly war right in his home.


If it weren’t for the unique protagonist that is Tomas Piety, the story could’ve easily hit an obstacle and been unable to strive as it did in Priest of Bones. Told in the first-person, his voice is genuine and filled with good intention even in the macabre world he invests himself in. His leadership shines through the wise and carefully thought-out decisions he makes, but especially his employee managerial skills. With an epic cast to support him, from Bloody Anne to his reckless brother Jochan Piety, it’s safe to declare that this story features a beautiful diversity. The harmonious balance between humour and violence also constantly keeps the story fresh and rewarding, with each character’s personality shining through the gloomy atmosphere that wraps around the land of Ellingberg. Let’s also not forget that Tomas Piety isn’t just a crime lord, he also turned himself into a priest during the war. The dynamics that comes with such a role are intricately blended within his character and the plot to deliver some truly insightful moments on who he is and what he believes in.

The world conceived by Peter McLean is also an outstanding piece of this beautiful puzzle with it clearly conveying the dark and eerie vibes of the land. The political angle that creeps into the story also beautifully adds to the conflict at hand and keeps the world fascinating to discover. To top it off, this isn’t just a crime fiction. It’s epic grimdark fantasy. It doesn’t however venture into wild fantasy elements, but rather features a magic-light layer to the story. The very little magic present is actually a mystery in itself and helps develop the intrigue as well. How Peter McLean does this is marvelous and simply turns this adventure into a truly absorbing story with unexpected twists that reminds us that there’s more than meets the eye.

As a fan of the Peaky Blinders (2013—) TV series, I can confirm that the comparisons to it are undeniable and fans of the show will be pleased to find a solution to their craving and impatience in Priest of Bones. Expect a bloody and thrilling quest for conquest in Peter McLean’s latest debut novel.



Thank you to Ace Books for sending me a copy for review!



46 thoughts on “Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

  1. Wow, this one sounds really amazing and quite honestly very unique. Haven’t seen much novels that combine fantasy and crime together. I have heard a lot of great things about Peaky Blinders, but it’s another of those series that I haven’t yet gotten around to seeing. I’m sure I will at some point. The strong characters that you are describing sound terrific as well. As usual this was a terrific review, and it’s probably not a big surprise that I will add this one to my to read list 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to say that the blend of fantasy with mystery/crime is usually my favourite sub-genre of fantasy! Peaky Blinders was pretty awesome, especially when it’s one of those shows I find ACTUALLY gets better with each season, and season 1 was already pretty awesome to start with! 😛 The strong character you get in this debut novel is also similar to the awesomeness of the protagonist from the show too. I’m really not kidding when you can notice the similarities between the show and this book (but the show is not fantasy however hahah). Glad to hear your interest in this one, Michel! Thanks for reading. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the impression you made nice fusion between different books and authors there. If we’re speaking of the same Godfather, then that one was written by Mario Puzo and I also loved it! If we’re talking about what Peter Maas wrote, you might be referring to Serpico? There’s a movie based on that book too. Or maybe some of his other classic non-fiction stories he’s written.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome review!
    I watched the first few episodes of Peaky Blinders and i liked it a lot, so i’m gonna have to check this book out 😀
    Humour and violence is a combo that i found works well for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norrie! You totally got to continue Peaky Blinders. The show gets better with each season, and there’s a particular actor that appears in season 2 that I absolutely love too (for you to discover) 😉 Hope you get the chance to try this debut novel out someday! 😀


    1. Thanks Tammy! I hope you enjoy your time with it. It’s definitely entertaining to say the least. 😉 And if you ever feel like spending your time binging a TV series about a crime family on the rise (mostly fictional), then look up Peaky Blinders. 😉


  3. It sounds like an amazing book! I never watched Peaky Blinders but a lot of people have been recommending it to me 😊
    (Can’t believe you already finished the book though 😱 do not mention your reading speed ever again 😂)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is, it is!!! 😀 And yes, maybe someday you’ll get the chance to try the show out. The main actor Cillian Murphy does one of his best career performances as the protagonist of the show. I’ve seen him around in movies as a secondary character, but here, he brings it to a whole new level.

      Bahahahah woopsie! 😛 😛 Let’s go, Caro! I know you can do it do too, you just have to drop everything else you do. 😮 😮 🤣


  4. That quote!! XD This sounds like the perfect book for you, Lashaan! A bit of your academic interest tied in here, I see– I have only read one work of fiction which features organized crime. It was certainly interesting! War for the Rose Throne has a lot of potential. I assume you’ll keep reading? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can tell a book is just sooooo good when it makes you write those wonderully dreamy reviews! Like… I know it’s all fantasy and grimdark and crime but jaysus, your review makes me feel like I am missing out simply by not reading this book right now! 😀
    Brilliant, Lashaan! Simply brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah you’re too kind! Thank you so much for reading, Liz. You reeaaally have to give this a shot. I felt like I was reading Ed McDonald’s twin brother’s debut novel. So happy that Peter McLean wrote it, it’s soooo much fun! Hope you do get the chance to check it out soon. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Omg, this is something I actually thought whilst reading your review where you mentioned the first person POV- I swear I thought of Galharrow straight away 😀 hahaha…
        Right, I’m off to buy this book. Ciao! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to say I have neither seen Peaky Blinders nor read this book or even known of this author’s existence before… Thank God for your amazing reviews, always there to help a girl update herself XD

    The concept of priest turned crime boss is possibly one of the best premises ever. I also love the fact that this is a weird and mysterious mix between grimdark, wild fantasy and crime fiction. Talk about one hell of a genre cocktail! The author seems to have managed it all so so well, though, creating this epic journey, you can’t even ponder over the weirdness of it for long hahaha

    I’m happy to hear this was another win for you, Lashaan, and I’ll certainly look out for the author and his books in the future 🙂 Your review speaks volumes for Mr. McLean’s talent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah it is my pleasure to put books you wouldn’t have heard otherwise on ya radar! 😉 Even if you don’t read it, it’s definitely nice to know it exists nonetheless!

      Oh yes, I usually love the mystery-fantasy blend. It’s usually my favourite cup of tea, especially when it’s done right! 😀 After all, within a fantasy world, just about all genre are possible. 😀

      Thanks, Sophie. I appreciate that you take the time to read these reviews! Hope you pick up great books in the future! 😉


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