5 Reasons Why You Should Read the War for the Rose Throne by Peter McLean - The Fantasy Review

5 Reasons Why You Should Read the War for the Rose Throne by Peter McLean

War for the Rose Throne

The Grim Irishman tells you why you should read The War for the Rose Throne

The War for the Rose Throne is a dark fantasy quartet by British author, Peter McLean. Released between 2018 and 2022, it tells the story of Tomas Piety, a gangster who returns from a war to find his crime empire fallen. As he sets out to reclaim his home, Tomas soon finds himself fighting another war, this one just as bloody as the last but fought in the shadows and over the Rose throne itself. Here are five reasons why you should read the War for the Rose Throne.

Why You Should Read the War for the Rose Throne

The Themes

“People may revere the idea of heroic veterans, but they very seldom have the time or the charity for the broken, battle-shocked men and women that are the reality of what war produces.”

The War for the Rose Throne is rich in heavy themes that you do not see too often in many fantasy stories. Rather than shy away from discussing such things as abuse and PTSD, McLean fully embraces them, and in doing so, provides a voice for people who have suffered such things. He shows how even the strongest, most resilient of men and women are deeply affected by the horrors of war, both those they have witnessed and those that they have committed themselves. Some readers might be a little disappointed about missing the war but that is not the focus of the story. It is about the battle-shocked folk who survived, the traumas that they carry with them, and their attempts to find their place in the world, no matter how much blood must be spilled in the process. The War for the Rose Throne highlights the good and bad sides of humanity, and more specifically, the greyness in between.

Priest of Bones (Book 1 of War for the Rose Throne)

The Politics

“So long as there are men and women and politics, we will be looking for new ways to kill each other.”

With a series title like War for the Rose Throne, you would expect some good political intrigue, and McLean does not disappoint. If you like stories involving assassinations, conspiracies, blackmail, deception, and propaganda campaigns, this series has it all. What makes it even more interesting is that these are the weapons used by both sides in the war for the throne, including the protagonist Tomas Piety himself. He is a gangster who knows how to fight dirty and you really cannot get dirtier than politics. McLean leans more and more into this with each subsequent book, resulting in some incredible moments and jaw-dropping revelations that will shock readers to the core.

Priest of Lies (Book Two of the War for the Rose Throne)

The Cunning

“There are few men in this world who I would fear to face with swords, but I fear the cunning.”

Magic in War for the Rose Throne is called the cunning. To some it is a rare gift, to most it is a curse. The cunning manifests in people in uniquely different ways. The only common denominator is that everyone is completely terrified of it, even the main characters themselves. As a result, the cunning folk are shunned by society, and whenever they enter the fray, chaos tends to follow. We learn more and more about the workings of the cunning as the story unfolds, yet with each new revelation there are another two questions, making it both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. If you like a soft magic system that will give you the fear when reading about it, then this series has you covered.

Priest of Gallows (Book Three in the War for the Rose Throne)

The Pious Men

“We were the fucking Pious Men. We had been through Hell together: if we could survive Abingon, we could do anything.”

Every protagonist needs a strong supporting cast of characters surrounding them, and you cannot get better than the Pious Men. Consisting of gangsters, soldiers, orphans and prostitutes, the Pious Men might be considered the worst that society has to offer, but they have something that most people lack in such a dark and violent world: loyalty. Each Pious man and woman serve a role in the gang, with some playing a much bigger role than most. A big part of what makes the War for the Rose Throne such a good series is these characters’ stories. Whereas Tomas may be the heart of the story, they are very much the soul. All in all, the Pious Men are not good people but they are a family, and McLean makes it quite clear that you do not mess with family.

Priest of Crowns (Book Four in the War for the Rose Crown)

Tomas Piety

“There’s a devil in you, Tomas Piety. There always has been and there’s no blaming the war for it.

Alongside its deep themes, political intrigue, terrifying magic system, and great supporting cast, the number one reason to read the War for the Rose Throne is the main character himself, Tomas Piety. The series reads as his memoirs, and with such a distinct narrative voice, deep thought-process, and unique mannerisms, it is easy to forget that he is just a fictional character. We see him at his highest and lowest points, at his best and worst moments, at his kindest and most violent. You will root for him and you will despise him, but above all else, you will want to keep turning the page to see what he will do next. Tomas Piety is without doubt one of the most interesting and memorable morally-grey protagonists in the fantasy genre, and that is Our Lady’s own truth.

Related to 5 Reasons Why You Should Read the War for the Rose Throne

Back to top