Cover Image: The Last Blade Priest

The Last Blade Priest

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Member Reviews

I forgot this book came from NetGalley, I think I read it off an e arc send for the tour!!

My reviews were featured and shared already for the tour but here is the body of it:

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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The Last Blade is a novel of deception, deceit, and betrayal. This is the novel for you for fans of Joe Ambercrombie and Justin Call. It’s grimdark, it’s got anti-hero tropes, of course, your typical ‘elves’ have an evil trope which is good to see in a fantasy novel. The character’s in this book are easy to follow, and despite some reservations that I had with the novel, not including a glossary or a map, the worldbuilding is quite easy to follow despite the in-numerous amount of names, kingdoms, cities, and places. This is not an easy skill to master even for new or experienced writers. To write your novel and keep on redrafting it until it is understandable, to make the reader immersed in your world takes time and effort. And for a reader like me, I can even remember the most insane details of this world that I will not want to spoil. But suffice to say, Emperor Aurugdine has legendary lore that is worthy of reading.

Because the story’s biggest strength is like that of playing a Skyrim DLC. It’s comparable to that level of worldbuilding. There are details I can remember, like the wars between Stull and the League, the irate lord Cimila, and the Zealots, the Tzanate, and the Custodians. Plus, there’s also the mysterious cult that worships the Mountain. I was expecting to see more Godly moments, maybe some more interventions by divine creatures, etc. These are only suggestions. The blurb says what it does on the tin, for the builder that is Inar has to navigate through a very complicated political situation that puts his life on the line. The priest, Anton has a very peculiar path, drawn to the political machinations of old men that have long been past their due. And the child, who I was unable to figure out until perhaps the end. I’m still not sure.

Overall, this is a great fantasy novel debut, and I really enjoyed the story. Look, if a good story can carry you across the pages, then it’s done its job in my opinion. The characters are not too hard to relate to, and that’s good. This is a solid fantasy novel that I would thoroughly recommend and I really want to read the second novel now! Please include a map and a glossary next time!

Amazon review submitted!
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This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. 
I read over 100+ pages in before it was archived.  I enjoyed the brief world building I  got to experience. The plot seemed interesting even though it would still take a few more chapters for it to set up fully.
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Anton is a blade priest, one of the last, but with the Custodians no longer wanting to receive the gift, what purpose does he have? But Anton will be blessed, though he will not see it as such, and be forced to escape his home. He travels to find allies but finds that allies are hard to come by when you have very little to bargain with. Inar is a builder with a unique talent to see into stone, one that he must keep hidden. He is requested to travel with a Merite, a leader in the League that is conquering the kingdoms, to show the road to the mountain. They know of his talent and how it can be used to strengthen a deadlier one. The enemy is coming, called the Elves, and the League will do whatever they must to protect the kingdoms; stone will not stand in their way…

This book is really well written, and it makes you want to keep reading, though the story lacks something for me. So why did I keep reading… I could relate to some parts of the story, where promises are used as incentives, but they are never quite fulfilled. I did like how the story is told mainly from the viewpoint of Anton and Inar, who are not in a position to make decisions (though Anton should, but struggles), they follow instructions, and we see the story from that view. I liked Duna, who wants to be a good person and not have her talents used only as weapons. And how people use the excuse of “for the greater good” to justify their actions. So perhaps I kept reading because the characters act so human and I felt so betrayed on their behalf.

I think the pace of the story was a little slow for me. I would have liked to see more of what was happening with Ving and his group. I read in the acknowledgements that the author has other publications, and this is his first fantasy story. Perhaps that is why I find it really well written but lacking something that I can’t really explain (not fair, I know). But the end… I will be reading the next one, to see where this goes...
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W. P. Wiles' The Last Blade Priest is a raw, gritty, and visceral fantasy novel that bucks your standard high fantasy tropes and harkens to the best of Burroughs and Howard.  Wiles allows his reader to slowly learn about his world; exposition is sparse and light, unfolding as the protagonists discover more and more through their actions.  This light-handed exposition extends to the magical systems, the races in the world, the political and socioeconomic systems, and even the backgrounds of the characters, allowing the reader to slowly wade in deeper and deeper as they progress through this first novel (of what looks to be an epic series).  Combat unfolds explosively and with weight, as consequences and choices weight on the protagonists, and Wiles isn't afraid to dive into the viscera and violence of his setting.  A slower start led to a book that I couldn't wait to pick back up whenever I was interrupted.
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If you like your elves noble and beautiful and straight out of LOTR, then this book is not for you. Evil elves are just one of the brilliant creations in The Last Blade Priest. It’s a slow burning epic fantasy and I absolutely loved it. This book has some great world building and the main characters are really satisfying in the way they grow and develop through the story. I loved the politics especially the league who aren’t colonising people at all, merely introducing them to a better way of life. If you like your fantasy thoughtfully written with plenty of detail, then this is the book for you. There’s action too and sometimes it’s quite startling. Nothing in this book is quite what it first appears to be. I can’t wait to read the sequel. 
Thank you to Net Galley and Angry Robot for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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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.
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Question, what animal in your life demands sacrifices? Currently mine has an axe to grind with everyone shooting off fireworks.

W. P. Wiles "The Last Blade Priest" (out July 12, 2022) has giant murderbirds with a religious following that dabble with a bit of heart based removal. Now that I have your attention, there is also a really good engineer who is stuck learning spycraft on the fly. Oh yea, and they are doing this under the shadow of a strangely competent conquerer who can at least lay out camps and improve on their design, but also not great folks.

Reasons to read:
-The character in the totally not murder cult is kinda "meh" on the whole human sacrifice thing
-Engineer who is tired of their crew being bad is sort of my entire childhood
-Unlikely antagonists
-Everyone has had a (Redacted character name) in their group projects
-Keeping human sacrifice on the table is part of a religious schism 🤣
-Murderbirds
-Didn't see that coming

Cons:
-It's a bit slow to get the hooks in, but just enjoy the ride and learn the jargon.

Thanks Angry Robot Books and Netgalley for the ARCs.
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Review
The Last Blade Priest is one of those books where the premise sounds absolutely breathtakingly spellbinding that you cannot wait to dive head first into the novel. You want the book to reach out and grab you from the very outset and pull you into the sights, sounds and action. You want to be at one with the main characters and be in tune with the story going forward.
But for me personally, it did not happen. I felt like I was chucked in at the middle of the narrative and was trying to piece things together as I went along. So much had already occurred to the supposedly main protagonists that it felt I had missed several chapters of the book. Which was weird in itself. 
The world-building took centre stage and more or less made the book meander for many chapters. In epic fantasy such as The Last Blade Priest, there must be extended periods of descriptive writing and dialogue, though it seems overly done at times. 
This is obviously the first book in the series, and issues will be ironed out as the narrative progresses. As the story advanced, the intrigue and excitement definitely began to shift to a new level.
Political shenanigans and a certain amount of skulduggery are always welcome, and in that regard, the book does not disappoint.
The characters are well-drawn and have some fascinating traits and characteristics. The three main protagonists and narrators are Anton, a blade priest who serves the Mountain God, Craithe, and its Custodians. Inar, a Master Builder for the Mishig-Tenh. And the young Duna, an enigma whose relevance seems to take an age to become known.
Lott, an apprentice of Inar, is perhaps my favourite character because of his ineptitude and sense of humour. Where the vast majority of the novel is of a deadly-serious nature and heavy-duty, Lott adds a little light-heartedness to proceedings, willingly or not.
Despite my reservations early on, The Last Blade Priest captured my attention in many ways. I enjoyed the political intrigue and the various sub-plots woven into the narrative. Inar's reluctance at having to do the bidding for either side made him the perfect anti-hero.
This is the first book by the author that I have read, and it took a while to get into the way he writes. There is a lot of promise for future development, character and story-wise. Some clever and fascinating ideas blended in easily with the usual political intrigue and mystery.
It was a little slow to get to the nitty-gritty of The Last Blade Priest, but once there amongst the thick of the action, it became a decent read. 
If you like fantasy fiction on the weighty side with plenty of world building and heavy on the dialogue, then you will enjoy The Last Blade Priest. In the end I was glad I stuck with it and will gladly read the next in the series.
Thank you, NetGalley and Angry Robot, for the advanced copy.
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It took a good 100 pages or so to get into this novel, but once I did it was great! It was quite confusing at start without a glossary or hierarchical structure to follow the terms and names used for people in the religious and military orders but you soon get used to it and figure it out. The world building is great, the two main characters are well developed some of the minor characters lesser so but it sounds like they will have more of a part to come as the story ends as if it's angling for a follow up. 
I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.
Thank you to Netgalley, Angry Robot and the author.
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Avian demigods who require human sacrifice. A magical mountain around which an entire religious organization (cult?) is structured. Evil Elves. Necromancy. A kingdom on the brink of religious war and further colonization...

Betty Trask award winning author W.P. Wiles is back with a new epic fantasy multi-POV tale, THE LAST BLADE PRIEST is full of adventure, top notch world building and a few unique twists to some of my favorite tropes.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I did request and receive the advance reader copy from the publisher, Angry Robot Books. Now let me explain why I requested this book. There was a line I saw in the press release that said "Whatever you do, beware the elves..." and that was all it took. So many fantasy tales that I read, the elves are a race that thrives in harmony with nature and are good beings. This one line suggested to me that the elves in this world were evil. Frightening. I had to know! (I was NOT disappointed!)

Let's talk characters and world building. One of the POVs we get this story through is Inar, a Master Builder for the Mishig-Tenh (Mishig denotes the family Inar is a member of, and the Tenh are different tribes that live along the chain of mountains that curve throughout the land). Inar lives with a smudge on his family name, as his brother and father were both branded traitors by the King and paid with their lives. Likely this is why the King's chancellor has chosen Inar to go work with the League and spy for him. Inar is our character who moves around the land and allows us to visualize this world.

Before I mention the second POV, I have to give a brief accolade for my favorite tertiary character, Lott. Lott is an apprentice of Inar the Builder and is drafted to accompany Inar to go with the League on his task. Lott has some of the best lines in the novel in my opinion, probably because he had some great comedic responses. Let's just say he was a genius at excising aggravation taxes on the Leaguers.

The second POV is Anton, a blade priest who serves the Mountain God, Craithe, and its Custodians, large birds that I always pictured as really big crows. Anton was chosen as a young orphan to be a blade priest, one who kept separate from the others and responsible for Giving the Gift, which is performing human sacrifices for the Mountain. A shocking command from the Custodians put a stop to this custom, much to Anton's relief. Anton is a stationary character for the most part, he remains in the fortress outside of Craith. He may not provide world building opportunities, but he does allow us to see all of the schemes and machinations of the various "groups" in his religious order. It was unique, full of mystery and intrigue and I absolutely loved it. I'm sitting here smiling in memory of the many unexpected twists and turns that I discovered in these pages.

So, putting all of this together, just what did I think of THE LAST BLADE PRIEST ? Honestly, I didn't get enough of this world with just the one book. When I read the last page, I turned and looked at my husband and said "If this doesn't get a sequel, I'm going on a rampage."
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The Last Blade Priest feels like it could end up being one very memorable series if this is its start.

I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to Angry Robot and the author for the opportunity.

I have my own blog now (www.daysinotherworlds.com), so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :)

Release date: 12th of July 2022.

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June of 2022 is shaping up to be the worst reading month I've had in the last couple of years. It's not a new thing, as it usually is the worst one in any reading year of mine, but with books like The Last Blade Priest, it makes the blow of such weak TBR progress easier to handle.

I'm a huge fan of world building and it's usually, the highlight of most books I read if it was excessive. And of course, enjoyable to read about. W. P. Wiles created a fantastic world to go through, and the author also wastes no time of making it the main point of the narrative. It's dense, it's intricate and as always, it spoke volumes of the level of effort the author put into creating it.

There are different magic systems, different cultures, creatures, histories, legends, groups and the different threats as well. One of the main things that truly worked for this book, and hopefully series by extension, was the limitation of it's point of view characters. There are ambitious pieces of writing throughout the fantasy genre, and even though the world is great, the ping ponging between the 10+ characters in different locations, makes it extra challenging.

Not impossible to do, but still extra challenging.

In The Last Blade Priest the main story was told in separate locations yes, but it's mainly told from two point of views. There were some chapters for other characters, but the main two were Anton and Inar. Through them, I got to learn about the main conflict they're trying to work against, the other threats that they personally had to deal with and their moments of doubts as well.

The different characters I ended up meeting ranged from interesting to neutral to forgettable. Some of them were too interesting to me, that I had hoped that they got they're own point of views throughout the book, but given that it's seemingly a series, all hope is not lost. The awesome thing here is that there are a lot of twists and turns to enjoy.

I wouldn't truly call any of them surprising, in the grandest scheme of things, but I do believe that the author managed to nail all of them except one at the very end of the book. That scene was very cool, don't get me wrong, but the events leading up to it made it a little expected for the impact I believe the author was trying to achieve.

That in itself is not an issue whatsoever, my main issue here was interest.

Because it's world building first and foremost, through the characters, the pacing would be slow and that's totally fine. But the interest I had in following said characters, took a much longer while to happen for me and it's the main reason of why I didn't love the book as much as I know I could've. I'm almost certain it's a series rather than just a standalone and that makes me giddy, if this is the start, then I'm hoping it's only going to get even better.

Final rating: 3.5/5
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I requested a digital copy in order to sample the prose on my phone (since I don't have a eReader) before requesting a physical copy for review. I will update Netgalley once I read & review a physical copy.

My review will be based on the physical ARC I read.
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A gripping read, worth checking by readers interested in intriguing worldbuilding, solid characterization, and clever plots. Recommended.
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(I was given an ARC through NetGalley in exhange for a review)

This is a -dense- book. There's a lot going on here and it has no qualms with just throwing you into the deep end to see if you can find your way to shore. It's not bad at all, but it is a challenge, and the whole thing just crashes to an end. I'm interested to see where it goes next, so I'll likely read the sequel. A glossary would have done wonders for this book.
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This was interesting with the magic system and the story but the pacing was off. The action was thrust upon us and the descriptions plagued with the inability of the writer.
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I have read (I think) previous works by this author (care of wooden floors and plume) and if this is the same author then I can only say what a huge development in writing style and story telling, I enjoyed the other books, they have a unique flavour but being a life long fan of all sci-fi & fantasy books this book was a pleasure to read, i am not going to be a bore like some semi professional reviewers and rehash the synopsis I will just say it’s a book worthy of your money and time
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This book is imaginative, rich in detail, with great world building and twists that grab you, because you haven't seen them coming.

W.P. Wiles, creates a fascinating world, where dying gods, cults, and astounding powers help shape the story to a wild climax.

Inar, the master builder turned spy against the legion by his king, and Anton, the bladed priest, who is relieved that for a time, human sacrifice to the mountain is no longer needed find themselves in a life story that will be be out of their cotrol.  

a great read, by an author who knows how to create an epic story.

Read it, and read it now.
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t's got recognizable elements from a variety of real cultures, but employs them in subtle and respectful ways. The character-building is slow but progressive, and each character has been thoughtfully given good arcs.This is clearly the first book in a series, but even with the quasi-cliffhanger at the end, it was a satisfying read.
I liked the character work the author did on this one . Folks who like high fantasy will like this novel; I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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I enjoyed the world-building of this novel. It's got recognizable elements from a variety of real cultures, but employs them in subtle and respectful ways. The character-building is slow but progressive, and each character has been thoughtfully given good arcs.This is clearly the first book in a series, but even with the quasi-cliffhanger at the end, it was a satisfying read. Folks who like high fantasy will like this novel; I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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