Review: A Ritual of Bone (The Dead Sagas #1) by Lee C. Conley

Rating: 7.5/10

Synopsis

“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.

Review

Thanks to the author for a listening copy of A Ritual of Bone (The Dead Sagas #1) for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

A Ritual of Bone is very much a fantasy/horror mishmash that sends The Elder Scrolls and The Walking Dead on a date, and brings Vikings on as a third-wheel. It is an enjoyable romp that has several flashes of brilliance, boasts an enjoyable cast of characters, and is perfect for those looking for more necromancy on their fantasy sundae.

Like everyone else reading this novel, Conley is a new author to me and I had no clue what I was getting myself into. We have followed one another on social media for some time and I believe SPFBO has something to do with it, but I grabbed his debut on Amazon some time ago and it has unfortunately been sitting on my shelf since. When I received the opportunity to give it a listen (which always pushes books up the TBR for those wondering), I jumped in straight away.

Now, since this is Lee’s debut, I did go in expecting some “rookie” mistakes when it comes to writing style, editing/proofing needs, etc. While I do believe A Ritual of Bone could have been a bit higher on the rating scale had it been professionally edited, I can understand how expensive that can be for a self-pub author. I’ve seen cost estimates for cover art, design, proofing, edits, and so forth; they aren’t cheap. That being said, there were several times certain tidbits of info were repeated rather closely to one another, leading to sections of the book being a bit too wordy. I did like enjoy his prose style with that exception as it really gave a sense of tracking through a dense, fog-ridden forest with a constant feeling of unease and being watched.

Lee also really gives you a connection with his characters through vivid portrayal of themselves, their motivations, and their plights. Bjorn is probably the character that stood out the most, but each storyline kept me intrigued as they all began to culminate the further you ventured in the novel.

Lastly, I really enjoyed RJ Bayley’s narration. A new name to me but one to keep an eye on. My only critique would be that, if you are going to narrate several POVs in one novel, make sure to differentiate the voices enough to where they don’t begin to mesh together. I do hope he continues to narrate the rest of this saga as he does have an excellent voice for it.

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