I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Ritual of Bone by Lee C Conley
Published by Wolves of Valour Publications on June 17, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, General, Zombies
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'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 unique and propulsive love affair with zombie fiction. It is new and refreshing and it was as ambitious as it was gritty and I was ready and willing to fight with the dead. It is the first book in the Dead Sagas series and manages to create individual plots (well more like mini-stories, really) that so perfectly interweaves at a crescendo leaving the reader gasping and hungering for more. The writing is visceral and the world-building takes you away into a time that bears no meaning but a time that aches to be discovered to be understood.
Master Logan and his apprentice are dabbling with things that they can’t possibly understand or control. If they get any aspect of it wrong, there will be ceaseless consequences. It is an incredibly dark branch of magic and the apprentice tries to log for the histories. They have had some semi-successful experiments whereas others have been complete failures. However, another master is having success and has managed to reanimate the dead. They can wreak havoc on the world. Master Logan and his apprentice don’t want anything to do with the Walking Dead but it’s too late, they are free to walk and destroy at will.
Bjorn the hunter, is also wading deep in troubled waters. He is being held captive by a cannibalistic tribe. He does eventually manage to escape but runs straight into the evil that is running amok in the countryside. He has gained a bit of a follower, a wildling that can’t speak any of the common tongues but who is determined to stay by Bjorn’s side for whatever may come their way. Arnulf is a man that is up against it. As a Commander of the Guard of Arnar, he witnesses many of his men succumb to a mysterious plague. On the home front, he needs to protect his homeland from dead men killing his people. He suffers loss and anguish and he resolutely binds himself to a promise to gain vengeance for him and his people.
Reading A Ritual of Bone felt like standing in a busy train station. Trains and people are coming and going but I don’t notice them, everything is a blur, everything, except, the immersive story in front of me. I didn’t want to look up, I was completely engrossed. What kind of havoc was the dead going to reap upon the people? What would it take to stop them? Each chapter grew in its darkness and its depravity and I was sucked further and further into a world of walkers. Lee C. Conley is a master of the creeping unease, the suffocating feeling of complexity, nothing is as it seems. Pandora’s box is well and truly opened and everyone is going to hell in a handbasket.
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.