An absorbing and original epic fantasy with rich world-building and a wry take on genre conventions from a Betty Trask Award-winning author
Welcome to one of the many stops on the blog and social media tour for The Last Blade Priest by W.P. Wiles organized by publisher Angry Robot Books. Look for others reviewing and featuring this book this month across social media and on your favourite bookish blogs, and consult the schedule graphic at the end of this post to find other confirmed reviewers.
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About the Book
The Last Blade Priest
by W.P. Wiles
Published 12 July 2022
Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy
Page Count: 400
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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.
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My Rating: 3.5 Stars
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I was approached by a publicist from Angry Robot and offered a complimentary eARC copy of The Last Blade Priest by W.P. Wiles in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
The Last Blade Priest is a dark epic fantasy that delivers a nice blend of familiar fantasy tropes and unique characters and plotlines. I’m still not entirely sure if the association was intentional or not, but the characters felt inspired by Norse mythology and folklore, which immediately coloured the world for me in a particular way. I’m of Scandinavian descent and I find myself drawn to this sort of storytelling.
This book gets off to a bit of a slow start, but it picks up and blazes past in a flurry by the end that leaves you spinning and wanting more. I can’t quite put my finger on what the issue is making the beginning feel so slow, or how I would improve it, but I do think if this book gets a sequel or something else is written to fit into the same world, this book will have done a good amount of the leg work and the next book will be able to dive into the thick of things much faster.
Focal characters Anton and Inar were both fascinating and likable in their own ways. Inar gave me gruff, wise beyond his years reclusive mountain man vibes. Anton, secretly disgusted by the way his world works and the role he’s been assigned to, gives me righteous secret anarchist vibes. And somehow it’s these two men, not the world’s soldiers, leaders, or nobility, who are destined to change the world as they know it.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to call this one a full 4 stars or drop to a 3.5, but the beginning was slow enough that had this been a purely spontaneous read, I might not have finished it. My only other complaint is that this world and these people feel like the sort of high fantasy that borrows from modern interpretations of medieval Europe, yet every now and then the characters would use rather modern words or phrases, and it did pull me out of the world a bit each time. I know a fantasy world and culture can be anything the author wishes and it’s not as if this book opens by giving us a timestamp and coordinates for a real Earth setting, but some of the things said just didn’t fit the atmosphere of what was otherwise well established.
Overall this is a great epic fantasy for those who like classic high fantasy with high stakes and a dash of dark plot points.
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Comment on “The Last Blade Priest by W.P. Wiles – 3.5 Star Review”
I love epic fantasy novels! This sounds like an interesting book. Thank you for taking the time to review it
-Dusty @ Eye-Rolling Demigod’s Book Blog