After reading Seth Skorkowsky’s book a few weeks back, I figured I’d spread the YouTube creator love and read Matt Colville’s first novel, Priest. If you’re familiar with Colville’s work, you won’t be surprised to find that the book is steeped in Dungeons & Dragons concepts, but he works it in without it feeling clumsy. It also doesn’t feel as sanitized and sterile as some of the official D&D novels I read back in the 90s.
We follow Heden, a broken man with a storied past who gets sent out to track down and investigate a mysterious knightly order. Colville has talked about how some ideas from Tolkien resonated with him, especially the sense of deep time, of faded and fallen empires, and of “many defeats and many fruitless victories.” You get a feel fairly quickly of the world being very old, of deep sadness both personal and societal.
There’s definitely a sense of Medieval Europe, particularly a sort of post-Celtic British Isles about the setting. That’s not really my bag, but it’s well handled here. How the order of knights is handled, for example, feels like something out of Arthurian legend.
Colville has a fairly easy writing style. Having watched a ton of his videos, I already knew he could spin a good yarn, but that doesn’t always translate to the written word. Well, in his case, it does. The climax and post climax sequence doesn’t quite work for me. Maybe I missed something. Still, overall, I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading Thief at some point.
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