Disillusioned by their service to the Crown in a brutal war marked by siege, starvation and unimaginable violence, a rootless assemblage of former soldiers elect to follow their battlefield priest and confessor, Tomas Piety, home from the killing fields. But Piety’s return to Ellinburg won’t offer a hero’s welcome. As the city’s former crime boss, his businesses and underworld networks have been usurped and claimed by outsiders in his absence. His homecoming, with dangerous associates at his back, sets the scene for a entirely new and equally deadly conflict.
As he crafts plans to seize back control of his criminal enterprises, Tomas must also assemble his former brothers-in-arms into a new kind of fighting force, transforming soldiers into Pious Men who will help him reclaim his illicit rule of Ellinburg. And while the soldiers bid goodbye and good riddance to the machinations of the Crown when they left the battlefield, the Crown isn’t finished with Tomas and his men. Between pitched battles in the streets and bloody raids to reclaim Pious Men territory, the Crown inserts its own deadly agent to complicate Tomas’ political maneuvers from the shadows.
Trust among his battle-shocked crew of veterans runs thin and Tomas balances on a knife’s edge as he tests their loyalties and his authority is threatened by a rivalry between his explosively violent brother and Tomas’ equally deadly second, Sergeant Bloody Anne. Like a weapon that could turn in his hand, the Pious men are all killers, one of them with emerging magical powers that are dangerous to friend and foe alike. Violent and visceral, the expletive-laden action weaves through bawdy houses, back rooms and bars as the stakes and the body counts escalate. Peter McLean’s rendering of battle fatigue as well as the traumas of physical and emotional abuse fosters an emotional investment for readers that elevates this title above other “run and gun” adventures.
Set in a Tudor-esque alternate world, Priest of Bones paints its literary landscape in broad, masculine strokes. But as the real power players emerge, McLean’s female characters conquer the foreground as Tomas’ strongest assets—and his deadliest counterparts. With its charismatic merging of backstreet magic, gangland conflict and political power struggles in a city teetering on the edge of destruction, Priest of Bones launches a breathtaking opening salvo as in the War for the Rose Throne series.