Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘A Ritual of Bone’ by Lee C. Conley organised by Storytellers on Tour. I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
This tour is also to celebrate the release of book two in the Dead Sagas – A Ritual of Flesh which was released on the 10th October 2020, so this is the perfect time to get into this fantastic series.
As evil ravages the north and the dead walk, all eyes fall to Arn… The apprentice journeys south, home to the College, unaware of the dark events that transpired in the High Passes after his departure. His leg in ruins, and haunted by watching shadows, the College council in Arn awaits him, but he does not travel south alone.
Arnulf and his warriors must travel to Arn also, with tidings for the king of the risen dead and the terrible curse which has destroyed all that he knew. Arnulf seeks vengeance upon the College, but must choose wisely if he is to save his son.
Meanwhile in the west, Bjorn and his strange Wildman companion report back to High Lord Archeon at Oldstones with grim news of cannibal Stonemen encroaching from the Barrens, but is embroiled in news of war and invasion as Archeon requests his service once more.
In the capital sickness awaits them all, Nym has fled to the city and must now continue her struggle for survival on the plague ridden streets of Arn, keeping all who she cares for safe from the halls of Old Night.
The many threads of this Saga converge on the city of Arn, but amid plague, invasion and terror, a greater darkness is looming. Dark forces are seeking to unleash evil upon Arnar, honour and renown is all, and sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead.
***** ***** *****
A Ritual of Bone
Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’
“Only valour and steel can stand against the rising dead”
Arnar is a land of warriors, its people as stalwart as the stones themselves. In a land of dark forests and ancient hill forts, a forgotten evil is awoken by curious minds.
The Great Histories and the Sagas say nothing of this evil, long passed from the memory of even the studious scholars of the College. For centuries, the scholars of Arnar have kept these records and preserved the knowledge and great deeds of a proud people. The story of these peoples forever chronicled in the Sagas of the Great Histories.
But now the evil spreads and the dead walk in its wake, terrible creatures roam the night and even the spirits are restless. The Dead Sagas could perhaps be the final chapters of these great records.
Many threads entwine to tell this Saga, interweaving the tales of those who played their part in the search for answers and ultimately their fight for survival. Amid plague, invasion and terror, the inexorable rise of the dead sends a kingdom scrabbling to its knees.
This Dark Fantasy Epic combines dark malign horror and gritty survival adventure as the Dead Sagas unfold in a world where honour and renown is all, where beasts and savages lurk in the wilderness, and where sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead.
A Ritual of Bone is a perfect read for this time of year, straddling the boundaries between fantasy and horror, and refusing to be defined by either. It blended a low-fantasy, Anglo-Saxon/Viking style world with arcane necromancy and zombies, which is a pairing that I can’t say I’ve ever seen before, but was expertly woven into a narrative that was gripping from the first page, and turned into one of those that means you simply have to keep reading to find out what happens. The worldbuilding was spot-on, and the zombies and cannibalism never became too much as is sometimes the case with any media involving them. Instead, they are an essential part of this world, this narrative, and balanced out by the author’s careful balance and skill at creating a world where all of this feels as though it not only belongs but where all parts – humans, creatures and world – are shaped together and by one another.
This kind of book relied very heavily on atmosphere, and the author delivers, because from the very start the book wraps itself around you, sends chills down your spine, and it only gets more intense from there. It had the creepiness of horror, the tension of suspense, with all the brutality and gore you would expect from this kind of story without ever feeling too much, and there beneath it, all was the emotions, and absolute humanity, of characters, caught up in a world like this.
I am increasingly enjoying books with multiple POVs and storylines, and A Ritual of Bone does this beautifully, with the various threads weaving together at the end to bring together an overarching story. This was done so well, that I wasn’t entirely sure how they were related until they intersected at the end, demonstrating a layered world, that stood well in its individual threads, and then became even stronger when brought together. Every one of the characters was expertly crafted, wonderfully unique with distinctive voices, brought together by the struggle to survive in this brutal world. Each character was gripping in their own way, and for myself, my favourites were Bjorn and Nym, who were both surviving in different ways in this world. The former was probably the storyline that kept me hooked the most, while Nym’s was the one that wrapped itself around my heartstrings, because of her sheer determination to persevere and protect her brother, despite everything she endures.
A Ritual of Bone is a dark read, and not just because of the horror aspects, but because of the different aspects of human nature that are explored and drawn to the surface through the characters attempts to shape what is happening, to endure and survive in a world that isn’t there to shield the nicer aspects of humanity and I loved it. That said, it might not be for everyone because while there was a lovely balance of the gore and brutality with everything else, there is little light to balance it out, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. That isn’t to say there aren’t any, and some of the moments between the characters brought out that lighter side, but in this case, I would say the darkness outweighed the light, and it was glorious.
I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style, and this was a book that hit the ground running, with excellent pacing to maintain the atmosphere and suspense that truly raised A Ritual of Bone to the next level. There were a few places where there was a little too much repetition or where some of the phrasing felt a little heavy-handed, but against the whole, that is a minor criticism, and certainly did not detract from my enjoyment of the writing or the book as a whole. I enjoyed A Ritual of Bone, and I have already snagged a copy of A Ritual of Fresh because I crave more of this series and with Halloween and Norsevember, and these darker nights to feed into the atmosphere it is the perfect time to continue with The Dead Sagas.
A wonderful, refreshing take on horror fantasy and a very solid start to the Dead Sagas. If you want an atmospheric, chilling read that will creep inside and wrap itself around you, with that touch of epic fantasy, and a story that is multi-layered and well-woven then A Ritual of Bone is an excellent read that I would highly recommend.
About the Author:
Lee is a musician and writer in Lincolnshire, UK. He lives with his wife, Laura, and daughters, Luna, and Anya, in the historic cathedral city of Lincoln. Alongside a lifetime of playing guitar and immersing himself in the study of music and history, Lee is also a practitioner and instructor of historic martial arts and swordsmanship. After writing his successful advanced guitar theory textbook The Guitar Teachers Grimoire, Lee turns his hand to writing fiction. Lee is now studying a degree in creative writing and working on his debut fantasy series The Dead Sagas as well as also generally writing speculative fiction and horror.
If anyone would like to sign up for occasional (once or twice a year) email of news and updates on Lee’s work, with the occasional competition or giveaway too, please sign yourselves up to Lee’s mailing list. Sign up to Lee’s mailing list!
A Ritual of Bones (The Dead Sagas #1) – Lee C. Conley – **** (4/5 Stars)
Prize:A Ritual of Bone – Grand Prize: One (1) signed hardcover (international), Runners-Up: Five (5) winners, choice of audiobook codes (US/UK) or ebooks (international)
Starts: October 18th, 2020 at 12:00am EDT
Ends: October 26th, 2020 at 11:59pm EDTa Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
You can also enter: HERE
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.