- The Last Blade Priest
Author: W P Wiles
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
- ISBN: 9780857669827
- Published: July 2022
- Pages: 535
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 08/07/2022
- Language: English
Destiny is a tricky thing as it is something that you should not be aware of. I want to be surprised if it turns out that I save the world, or perhaps destroy it. Some characters have their destiny thrust upon them from a young age and are told what it will be. Anton is a Blade Priest for Craithe, the God Mountain, and has been trained since childhood. His job? To carry out the human sacrifices, but Anton does not like violence. Sometimes destiny can pick the wrong person for the job, but is there something else in store for the last blade priest?
As the priests of the God Mountain remain recluse, the world around them is changing. The League of Free Cities is expanding via a mixture of diplomacy and war. Worse still are that Elves are returning, a race of turned humans altered by bad magic. Inar is a builder who becomes caught up in world changing events when the League hire him for a job. Eventually, the paths of Inar and Anton will cross. Both will play a role in the very survival or destruction of the world around them.
The Last Blade Priest by W. P. Wiles is a wonderful slice of low fantasy that takes the idea of a Conan the Barbarian like world and gives the mysterious sacrificing priests their own voice. The God Mountain is straight from a gothic tale. A mysterious cult who for years sacrificed humans to their Gods, feared and worshipped across the land. Anton’s tale reveals some of the secrets behind the curtain. Half the book is told from his perspective, and we realise that he is unsure of his actions and does not want to partake in the older traditions. Anton wants change, but this means politics.
Politics is another large element of Priest; the different factions all have varying ways of life, and they all think they are right. The traditional priests are always going to clash against the modernising League. There is a game of thrones going on, but more along the line of ideals and culture, than individuals.
This is epic fantasy and there are quest elements to the book as our heroes find themselves travelling across many leagues. It is the characters that make these journeys worth reading. The other half of the book is told from the perspective of Inar. He would consider himself a nobody and we get to witness the work of armies from the point of view of someone who does not want to be there. Like in any good fantasy novel, there is far more to see than is on the surface and both Inar and Anton have meaty story arcs.
The book also has a sort of fellowship, but one that does not really like each other. The League likes to integrate nations they have captured and not all are happy to play along. We meet a League noble and her ward. Duna is a fragile looking child, but inside there is a power. Her role in the novel expands as the book become increasingly bigger in scale. An intimate story about a few characters opens into one of epic battles and world defining events.
I very much enjoyed my time with Priest. It is a book that takes some of the tropes of fantasy and decides to explore behind the cliché. Perhaps a priest trailed to kill the innocent has more going on than just a thirst for blood? Inar also proves a very amiable character and is perfect for introducing the reader to the world. This is a chunky slice of fantasy at over 500 pages, but it is well paced and fun, so you will not want it to end.
Written on 8th July 2022 by Sam Tyler .