It’s time for my stop on the latest blog tour from the team at Storytellers On Tour. Make sure you check in with the rest of the tour as there are some amazing posts so far, including a guest post by Lee.
A Ritual of Bone is the first book in The Dead Sagas, and let me tell you it was a rip roaring first entry. Long since forgotten magic, warlords, plague and the undead, this story has it all. Plus book 2, A Ritual of Flesh, has just been released as well, so no waiting to find out what happens next.
Synopsis – 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.
A Ritual of bone is told from multiple pov, each in a different part of Arnar, each experiencing a different sort of horror and as the story progresses you can see how the characters are going to intertwine. I think Lee has done an awesome job of building the world through these characters. He is able to build the atmosphere and the lay of the land, all the while giving you an in depth look into who these people are as a society. He builds the story and world up, layer upon layer until you feel like you can see the story play out in your head. (That’s rare for me.)
Lee manages to create this overwhelming feeling of impending doom. The atmosphere is oppressive and at times claustrophobic. Every time you think it couldn’t get worse for the characters, it does. There are so many different types of horrors occurring throughout that you never get a break. I loved that he took my zombie expectations and turned it on it’s head. He doesn’t shy away from going full horror. Gore, chaos, psychological mayhem, this story has it all.
“She had murdered them. She watched as they fell lifeless to the floor. Her instincts torn asunder, her children, who looked to her for protection, for love, betrayed. Killed by her own hands. She had eaten them. Trapped watching, screaming in her mind, trapped in a living nightmare, watching it all unfold. Her love, replaced with a terrible rage as her spiralling descent into madness consumed all that she was.”
Because we are following so many characters, we get to watch the onset of each catastrophe. We watch through the eyes of the Apprentice as obscene rituals are performed in the name of learning. We follow the soldiers as the undead make their way through the land. We see the plague set foot in Arnar for the first time, with people bleeding from every orifice and dying in the streets. While I did initially have an issue with the amount of pov’s, once I found my reading rhythm I was able to follow along easily. Not every pov is given the same amount of page time and I found a couple of those not introduced until later becoming my favourites, so I will definitely be picking up book 2 to see how everything is going to play out. This book has such a build up that you just know that the carnage in A Ritual of Flesh is going to be crazy.
The book seems to have heavy Norse influences, especially with the way the communities away from the cities live and the fighting styles and weapons. The battles were very well written. I liked the way the soldiers interacted with each other. The way the soldiers were developed was great.
I went into A Ritual of Bone expecting a zombie story, I got so much more.
Author bio – 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 advanced guitar theory textbook The Guitar Teachers Grimoire, Lee turns his hand to writing fiction. Lee is one of the founders of Bard of the Isles literary magazine and is now also studying a degree in creative writing while working on his debut fantasy series The Dead Sagas, which includes the novels A Ritual of Bone and A Ritual of Flesh, as well as also generally writing speculative fiction and horror.
Official Website: https://www.leeconleyauthor.com/
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Don’t forget A Ritual of Flesh is out now – Amazon
I’m posting the synopsis for it below, so if you want to avoid possible spoilers for A Ritual of Bone, stop now…
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.