Categories
Fantasy

The Last Blade Priest by W.P. Wiles (ARC Review)

Today is my stop on the online book tour for The Last Blade Priest! This is an epic fantasy that I enjoyed quite a bit for it’s overall mood and atmosphere, care for language, and different takes on certain tropes that had me surprised by the end.

TLBP checked a lot of my best boxes for fantasy. It is dense in world building and slow at the start, but once the action and twists start picking up it was hard to put down and the pages started flying.   Keep an eye out too for the W.P. Wiles Sunday Brunch feature on July 24th!

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Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Last Blade Priest
  • Series: …. ? Hopefully
  • Author: W.P. Wiles
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot Books, 7/12/22
  • Length: 554 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐   Yes for epic fantasy fans who like dense,  atmospheric worlds and twisted tropes!

Here’s the synopsis:

An absorbing and original epic fantasy with rich world-building and a wry take on genre conventions from a Betty Trask Award-winning author

Inar is Master Builder for the Kingdom of Mishig-Tenh. Life is hard after the Kingdom lost the war against the League of Free Cities. Doubly so since his father betrayed the King and paid the ultimate price. And now the King’s terrifying chancellor and torturer in chief has arrived and instructed Inar to go and work for the League. And to spy for him. And any builder knows you don’t put yourself between a rock and a hard place.

Far away Anton, Blade Priest for Craithe, the God Mountain, is about to be caught up in a vicious internal war that will tear his religion apart. Chosen from infancy to conduct human sacrifice, he is secretly relieved that the practice has been abruptly stopped. But an ancient enemy has returned, an occult conspiracy is unfolding, and he will struggle to keep his hands clean in a world engulfed by bloodshed.

In a series of constantly surprising twists and turns that take the reader through a vividly imagined and original world full of familiar tensions and surprising perspectives on old tropes, Inar and Anton find that others in their story may have more influence on their lives, on the future of the League and on their whole world than they, or the reader imagined.

I think the “file under” area is what hooked me on reading this one – “nightmare crows, scarred altars…” etc.  I love anything rich in world building and this book 100% did not disappoint.  The first 100 pages ish WAS confusing to me because Wiles threw out all the native terms without taking time to explain, but, I’ve learned to just let these things roll until they make sense.  As long as they make sense by the end of the book – and trust me, they do in this case – I don’t consider this a big deal anymore.

The main points of view are Inar and Anton, one a builder and one a priest trained to sacrifice human lives to the Mountain and it’s Custodian/s. One cool aspect is that as the storylines and characters progress, we learn who else is important, who will be dictating furture events. I didn’t see the twists coming but as the storylines converge (and the book wraps up) I found myself really liking these other people who wormed their way in. The less you know the better but I do like being surprised by side characters.

The world is rich in history, lore, religious lore, magic, and atmosphere.  The settings are well fleshed out too. A lot is added setting wise as the author’s career is somewhere in architecture. To me at least it’s cool when the setting becomes such a big part of the story and lore. It sounds dull as hell to read about but he stated that he created a “Fantasy architecture” for the world and it’s awesome, it makes sense, it fits, and it’s cool.  I just like cold, mountainy settings anyway and these take a huge toll on the characters here.

The other thing that adds a lot to the atmosphere is how the language sets a specific tone – I honestly had to look up quite a few words used but it did add to the world’s feeling of… consistency?  The book overall has a dark feel and while I have read much darker fantasy, this one had it’s moments and a consistent heavier feeling throughout.

So you get through the first hundred pages and the book starts rolling, the quest begins, the priesthood starts making sense, the characters develop, and the magic starts unfurling.  Did I say unfurling? Yes! I liked how the magic wasn’t dumped on us to begin with but revealed as we went along.  The elves are evil too and there’s a lot of backstory that rolls into the plot as the characters journey along.

Overall – I really liked this one. I liked how the story unrolled and that I didn’t mind being along for the ride in the meantime.  I liked a clearly dark fantasy that wasn’t truly horrific.  A lot of my favorite books set a tone and keep it, and this one fell into that category.   For the slow and slightly rough start I docked a star but fully would recommend this one to epic and dark fantasy fans!

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