I almost accepted the fact I had to wait over a month for my paperback copy of Priest of Gallows to make it here in Hungary to finally bury myself in Tomas Piety’s story once more, when the lovely people over at Jo Fletcher Books / Quercus approved my request for an eARC via Netgalley. And so, I couldn’t resist reading Peter McLean‘s latest upcoming release right away.
|Series: War for the Rose Throne||Genre: Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Grimdark|
|Date of Publishing: May 27, 2021||Trigger Warnings: death, blood, suicide, mass murder|
|Page count:||Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books / Quercus|
Gangster, 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 him 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?
“People may revere the idea of heroic veterans, but they very seldom have the time or the charity for the broken, battle-shocked men and women that are the reality of what war produces.”
I had a hard time for picking a song for Priest of Gallows. Nothing I usually listen to fit it. So I had to dig deeper and do a bit of research and eventually settled on Burn The Witch by Queen’s of the Stone Age.
Fuck a nun, Priest of Gallows was yet another great installment in the War for the Rose Throne series by Peter McLean. If you haven’t started the series yet, I highly recommend you do so because the final book will be something to behold, I’m sure. But until then, here are my reviews for Priest of Bones and Priest of Lies if you need some more persuasion. I’m having a pretty hard time with reading recently, but I pretty much devoured Priest of Gallows in a matter of days (well, not including those on which I did not read for reasons). It definitely did some good to my reading slump.
Priest of Gallows takes the events up a few months after the end of Priest of Lies, which I admit threw me a little. I expected to be dropped right into the aftermath of the battle and I was ready to curse McLean if anything happened to Billy the Boy. Instead, we get a glimpse of a moment of peacefulness. Which obviously doesn’t last as news arrives from Dannsburg. And thus, Tomas gets swept into court politics played by rules he doesn’t quite understand at first, but intends to play nonetheless.
I’m not going into the plot here, because I’d rather not spoil the fun, but if you followed Tomas Piety until this point, then you probably have a fair idea of what to expect: blood, mayhem, backstabbing, an unhealthy dose of cunning and a lot of mindfuckery. Tomas tries to navigate his way through Dannsburg society as a Queen’s Man, testing his powers and tolerance for being fucked with. I found it curious that it took him quite a lot of time to find his footings and start to make his own moves in the game, but that just makes me want to read the last book so much more.
“No one is ever simply an enemy, a lone faceless thing to be fought and killed. That was what was drilled into us in the army, to be sure, but that didn’t make it true.”
I like how the War for the Rose Throne series shifts from a story of a gangster into a political backstabbery with continually growing stakes as Tomas gets deeper and deeper into it all. Lucky for him, there are some people to keep his stubborn ass in line and his head clear when needed – Bloody Anne most of them all, who keeps being the most loyal friend anyone could wish for. And of course Billy the Boy who is still creepy but also still my favorite character and man, we need much more of him. Oh and I just adored the hell out of how Tomas was handling him. I just love their relationship and wish we could see more of that side of Tomas. I was happy to see Mr. Shapoor making a come back and I have a feeling that he might have a bigger role to play at one point.
There were some things I didn’t see coming, and I admit that for a long time I had no idea where the book was going – but then, it became clear which way one character’s plans were heading and then it was interesting to watch how and when Tomas will catch up and react. All in all, the end game definitely will be interesting.
Three books into the series, and I still have no idea what makes this world of Peter McLean‘s so damn compelling. It’s not that Tomas Piety is a person you usually would root for as he is not something you’d call a good man, but he also isn’t entirely without morale and honor. The thing about him is that he feels so goddamn real, as well as all the other characters. They aren’t just characters, they are people. Like that time when Tomas wants to act on first instinct, out of anger, and then later comes to his senses and rethinks his options. We all make mistakes, and Tomas is sure not an exception, but what makes a difference is how we handle those mistakes, and whether we learn from them or not. It’s also fascinating to experience how the Queen’s Men operate through Tomas’ eyes. It brings to mind modern-day secret intelligence services such as the KGB. I’m sure this is going to end so well…
“Change, as I say. It’s something we all have to make our peace with, in time. It’s seldom pleasant and never easy, but it’s a fact of life and nothing to be done about that.”
As for criticism, sometimes I wished things would slow down a bit, that we could get more time to explore relationships, events, places – at some places things felt a bit rushed to me. Then again, I wanted to spend more time in this book, so there is that.
All my ramblings aside, Priest of Gallows is another great addition to a series that already been on my list of favorites. This book only just strengthened that place. Priest of Gallows is a raw, gut-wrenching, and unputdownable page-turner, where you can never know if it’ll be Remorse or Mercy cutting your heart out next. You can try and hide from the inevitable, but at the end of the day, you just have to join Tomas’ crew and hold tight because the road won’t be smooth and painless, that’s for sure.