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Review: Priest of Gallows (War for the Rose Throne) by Peter McLean

April 29, 2021

About the book:

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, head of the Pious Men, but one of the Queen’s Men, invisible and officially non-existent, working in secret to protect his country.

The queen’s sudden death sees him summoned him back to the capital – where 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, Tomas must now bend all his wit and hard-won wisdom to protect his queen – even when 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?

My thoughts:

Once again Peter McLean has knocked it so far out of the park it’s gonna take years to find the ball. If you like Grimdark in general (or just GOT) then you MUST get onto this series. Priest of Gallows is the third book in this four book series (The War for the Rose Throne) and boy it’s a doozy. Told in first person by main character Tomas Piety, you get an close up perspective of Piety’s experiences, thoughts, fears and decision making process. Book two left us with Piety now the governor of Ellinburg having given Bloody Anne control of the Pious Boys. This ex-soldier and ex-mob boss’s life seems to be moving up. As with anything in this world designed by the incredible mind of Peter McLean what seems to be and what is are totally different prospects.

It seems that every decision, every step taken by Tomas Piety is just one step further into trouble. 

He is summoned by the head of the Queen’s Men to the Capital. It necessitates another change in fortune. He must hand over his governorship and take only his most trusted with him. The summons worries him and with good reason. The Queen’s Men are spies and assassins for the Queen. So what happens to them if the Queen dies? Piety is soon embroiled is espionage of the highest order. Even the secrets have secrets in the Capital. And the Queen’s Men are at the top of the food chain. Still, everyone answers to someone. And Piety must be careful who he trusts. He is a soldier – he knows how to follow orders – and here he is but the Blade, but the Capital is rumbling.  Politics, Deceit, Truth, Betrayal and Ruin lie at every turn. And the war Piety would never see return is right around the corner. How well he plays the game will show where his loyalties lie and whether he and his closest allies will survive the coming storm.

The world building in this dark series is exquisite. If you don’t like brutal, bloody scenes it’s NOT the series for you. But if you love the dark, gritty brutality of Game of Thrones then this is the series for you.

The reality of mob mentality is brutal and cruel within the capital. And Priest of Gallows really explores how little it truly takes to turn a populous into a deadly mob. Ellinburg, and Piety’s Pious Men are a holiday by comparison. 

If you have read the previous two books, I thoroughly recommend getting this one as soon as it is out at the end of May. A gripping, gritty read. I adore Peter McLean’s writing style. It sucks me in quickly, immersing me in Ellinburg, the Capital, the streets, the palace, upper and lower town and everywhere in between. His characterization is top notch. From Bloody Anne’s endless loyalty, to Ailsa’s lies, to Beast’s trust, to Vogel’s machinations, to Billy’s inherent danger and love and the Princess’s madness. The political games played are as horrible as you would expect, the power grabs fast and brutal and layered. You don’t really know who to trust and the storm is coming.

I am excitedly waiting for the gripping conclusion to this brutal and bloody tale.

You can read my review of Book One – Priest of Bones here

and my review of Book Two – Priest of Lies Here.

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