“All you want is more bloody and more fucking death, and it’s never enough for you, is it? You’ve become a fucking priest of bones!”
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
After fighting a long and gruesome war, Tomas Piety is one of many men trying to return to civilian life after suffering through the horrors of war. Unlike most other men, Tomas Pity was the man in charge of a large portion of the criminal underground of the cit of Ellinburg. During his time away his businesses and streets were stolen from them and he intends to see them returned to their former glory.
Beyond anything else, this is a story of soldiers coming home from a war and trying to be something other than men of war and violence. This is the story of how the horrors of war stay with those soldiers long after they come home and how it changes them.
While many of the characters suffer from PTSY, Tomas Piety has also learned tactics and strategies that he is now applying to regaining his status at home.
Before the war, it was more the threat of violence that maintained the status quo. Blood was rarely actually shed. Now, surrounded by men suffering from PTSD and used to using their swords to solve problems, something Tomas himself has come to rely on, the bloodshed just doesn’t stop.
This was a relatively quick read and I was really impressed by it. One detail that stuck with me was that the reasons for the war were never mentioned. At first I wondered about the omission of this detail but really, what difference do the reasons of the war and how it benefited the royalty matter to the men and women that were conscripted to do all the dirty work and now have to live with its effects?
As for characters, I have already talked about Tomas some but ultimately he is a “good guy doing bad things” kind of personality. I greatly enjoyed his interactions with the 2 main female characters, Bloody Anne and Ailsa.
Bloody Anne is Tomas’s right hand (wo)man. They met as fellow soldiers in the war and stuck together ever since with a deep sense of trust and camaraderie. A large part of why I liked their friendship so much was that it was completely platonic and they weren’t forced into a relationship by the author just because they were the opposite gender.
Ailsa is a bit more complicated to talk about but I know there is more to her than we have seen so far and I will be mightily disappointed if there are not some major reveals about her in future books.
Jochan is Tomas’s brother and they have a complicated history after some things that happened as children that left their mark on both of them. Tomas wants to trust his brother but between their childhood and then the war, he doubts Jochan’s ability to lead successfully which only continues to drive a wedge between them.
The only thing about Tomas’s character that I was less than crazy about was his priesthood. It was something that he gained in the war but I just couldn’t see that it impacted his character at all. Nothing that he did was tempered or inflamed by this ties to Our Lady (one of the gods worshiped in this world and the one that Tomas is devoted to). The fact that he is a priest didn’t take anything away from the story but neither did it really add anything as far as I could tell.
But that aide, I really enjoyed the themes explored in this book. Not only were was there some exploration of leadership (which I am a sucker for) but the struggle of veterans re-entering society is not something that I have seen explored muchin fantasy and it was a pleasant surprise.
Trigger warnings for: PTSD, child rape