Priest of Gallows is another brilliant instalment in the ongoing War for the Rose Throne series, perhaps the best book yet.
The first time I came across Peter McLean’s work was the lead up to the release of Priest of Bones in 2018. I remember reading somewhere that it was Peaky Blinders meets fantasy and I was immediately intrigued. Like a hungry dog, I devoured it upon release, then did the same thing for Priest of Lies in 2019. I was shocked when I heard that the War for the Rose Throne series was nearly cancelled. Thankfully, the awesome people at Jo Fletcher Books took the reins and made sure that this fantastic series continues because without them we may never have gotten our hands on this absolute gem of a book.
‘One murder can change the fate of a nation.’
Picking up a few months after the end of the second book, Priest of Gallows kicks off with the assassination of the queen. As a reluctant member of the Queen’s Men, Tomas Piety is summoned to the capital and political battlefield of Dannsburg by his superior, the Provost Marshall Dieter Vogel, to help deal with the crisis. What follows is a compelling story filled with secrecy, murder and political intrigue. Whereas the first two books revolved around Tomas’ rise from gang boss to governor, here McLean focuses on the bigger picture. Another war is on the horizon, and Tomas, still haunted by the previous one, will do anything to prevent it from happening, even if it means working with the worst humanity has to offer. Not only does it feel like a natural evolution of the overarching plot but also of Tomas’ character, and McLean handles both masterfully.
Gentle reader, I will do everything in my power to limit them, but there will inevitably be some SPOILERS for Priest of Bones and Priest of Lies. Viewer discretion is advised.
“Vengeance is mine, sayeth Our Lady, and I am Her priest.”
Priest of Lies (Book #2 in the War for the Rose Throne series) picks up shortly after the end of Priest of Bones and deals with some of the fallout of that event. The power dynamic in Ellinburg has been forever changed and the town stands on the brink of war with the Skanians. Bloodhands, who readers of Priest of Bones will remember, has assumed full command of the artists formerly known as the Gutcutters and now pulls the strings on Ellinburg’s governor. This new gang, rebranded as the Northern Sons, is really the only other crew of note in Ellinburg. There are a few secondary gangs of note, but they generally support either the Pious Men or the Sons.
Some Spoilers for Book 1, Priest of Bones, below. I've tried to keep them to a minimum but it's been out for a year and I've permitted myself some liberty in discussing a few points of that novel's plot.