Book Review: Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Author: Peter McLean

Title: Priest of Lies

Publisher: Quercus Books

Date: 2019

Plot: 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.

Book review: Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

I received Priest of Lies from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Priest of Bones

After enjoying Priest of Bones, I moved quickly to the next book, wanting to advance while the characters and plot were fresh in my mind. There are a lot of characters and I didn’t want the normal confusion of having to remember who was who.

Priest of Lies takes a different approach: character centred than driven by the violence and tension of the plot. There are still moments that made you squirm due to the graphic descriptions and the language is still explicit, but I either grew used to the writing style, or it’s not as extreme.

Tomas faces new and greater challenges in the second book. He’s claimed his streets and everyone knows who runs both the Stink and the Wheels. But that’s not enough – not for his new wife, who is determined to drive their enemy from the city, no matter what it takes.

People are weak, as I have written before, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become – until they just refuse to take it anymore. Then they will rise up, and the gods help their oppressors.

Being a street boss isn’t enough. Tomas must travel to the city of Dannsburg, the capital; a place rich in unpleasant people, lies and schemes. The threat there is even greater – society. Ailsa wants him to be known and no one denies a Queen’s Man anything, especially not when you are also married to them.

A large portion of the book is Tomas attempting to adapt, hating it but knowing he doesn’t have a choice. While this does give the book a slower pace than the first, the tension is still high; knives on the street are less dangerous than Dannsburg society. Tomas is still a businessman though, and he soon makes his mark in the only way he knows.

Seeing Tomas out of his depth develops his character. He is out of his comfort zone, away from his crew, and you see he is still determined for justice in his own way. He’ll bluff if necessary, fight if needed, but protect those he considers family, whatever the cost.

Ailsa was confusing in the first book, but an unlikable character in the second, distant and cold throughout the majority of the book. Members of Tomas’ crew step up and prove their worth: Anne can run the Pious Men without Tomas if needed; Billy is growing up and learning what it takes to be a man; Jochan falls prey to the battle shock and Cutter has more depth to him than anyone guessed.

These developments make the book enjoyable – it’s easier to connect to the characters this time. There is still violence – a threat must be dealt with, after all – and a scene that literally made me squirm. While I was immersed, the ending felt it dragged: for me, it climaxed at an early scene, which undermined some of the final confrontations and made the ending feel slow.

As with the first, this is not a book for those who are sensitive to violence/explicit language. But if you prefer darker fantasy, this is a story of loyalty and how far someone is prepared to go. An enjoyable read and I look forward to more.

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A Rambling Reviewer

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14 thoughts on “Book Review: Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

  1. I always find new and exciting books through your blog and this post is no exception – I love fantasy but haven’t delved into darker fantasy so perhaps this is a good one to try out! Once I read the previous novel of course ☺️ thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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