An atmospheric old school fantasy tale of Vikings, cannibals and zombies.
A Ritual of Bone is the first book in Lee C Conley's The Dead Saga series. Set in the Kingdom of Arnar, a land reminiscent of ancient Britain and Ireland with its misty mountains, dark forests, looming dolmens and hill forts, it accounts the rise of an ancient evil long forgotten by its people.
The story spans the length and width of the Kingdom of Arnar and is told through multiple viewpoints. Bjorn is a hunter tasked with tracking a mysterious beast that haunts the dark forests that border the Savage Lands only to discover something far worse. I really enjoyed his arc with one particular chapter near the beginning that hooked me immediately, in which Bjorn silently follows a set of tracks across a vast distance. It reminded me a lot of The Revenant in that Conley captures the sense of loneliness in the vast wilderness while building tensions and mystery without using any dialogue. A nice contrast to this is the story of the innkeep Jor and barmaid Nym who both seek to escape the clutches of a terrible sickness that plagues the busy port of Anchorage near the capital. Again, Conley does a great job here, this time capturing the uneasiness and mistrust that spreads among the town's denizens just as quickly as the sickness.