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Summary

Only valor 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 people is, 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 honor and renown is all, where beasts and savages lurk in the wilderness, and where sword, axe, and shield are all that stand between the living and the grasping hands of the dead.

©2018 Lee C. Conley (P)2020 Lee C. Conley

What listeners say about A Ritual of Bone

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An excellently violent tale brilliantly narrated.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book, free of charge, in exchange for an honest review.

I'm sorry but zombies are overrated. They groan and moan, shambling around mindlessly until they smell meat and then shuffle inadequately towards their intended prey...boring. Sure there have been attempts to make them more scary by making them fast or strong but, at the end of the day, a bullet to the brain always puts them down.

But what if you don't have bullets? What if you live in small villages in a time when medicine in poor meaning that death is a part of life and the dead greatly outnumber the living? What if the most powerful tool you have at your disposal is an axe and the enemy are not only fast but uncaring of the damage done to their bodies.

This is what A Ritual of Bone brings to us, basically Vikings vs the Undead.

Based in ancient Iceland and in a time where the inhabitants had forgotten the old-ways and stopped believing in legends and monsters, an experiment carried out by scholars sets off a chain of events resulting in hordes of unkillable monsters sweeping across the land.

Told from the perspective of various members and groups Arnar's people it follows the hordes as they pass over the Spine of the World into Arnar and Sidor and into the realm of man. Death is aplenty and I quickly learned to avoid growing attached to a any characters as they regularly died, mostly in a truly horrific manner.

This bring me to the gore aspect and I do need to state that if you are upset by blood, gore or child-death you may want to listen with care as this has it all. The sheer amount of severed limbs, decapitation, burnings and flesh-ripped corpses is above anything I've read before but the important thing is that it is all Fitting. There is no gore purely for the sake of making you upset here, every cut and blow is used to highlight the lack of hope mankind has against these creatures and each death is felt as a personal loss and made all the more poignant by the fabulous narration of Rob Bayley-Boyd. As a new Narrator for me I was unsure what to expect but his range and ability to add real personality to each character was astounding and he has a real knack for creating a sense of dread.

Add to this the slowly building sense of there being something otherworldly involved with horned beasts and shadows that appear to be guiding the hordes and I truly could not put this book down. Again Rob's narration has to be mentioned here as I've been reading horror for over 40 years and listening to Audiobooks for 20 and there was a scene towards the end that, for the first time in all those years, gave me real shivers of fear.

I going pretty much straight onto Book 2 to see what happens next and cannot recommend this enough to all fans of Zombies, VIkings and brilliantly narrated shocks!

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A Bone Cracking Tale

This book is well written , brilliantly performed and keeps you listening into the wee hours of the morning when you should be asleep ( ooh just one more chapter )
. Great book

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The Bloody Dead

My fourth reread of this dark medieval, plague ridden and zombie infested lands of Arnar, There is only two books in the series so far and its in my favourite top 10 series of all time, it's one of those books you can't put down till you finsh it in one setting, like an old friend, always visiting now and again, after a college ritual goes bad, a foul the dead and cursed are ravaging the lands of Anar, the erie dark setting Lee C Conley has set from the start has you hooked, The grizzly characters the plot and the worldbuilding is awesome, a bood curdling read that will have you wanting more, R.J. Baley the narrator gives an awesome performance, his northern gravily accent gives life to the Vikings of Arnar, There is a scene were an Arnar warrior is trying put down a zombie and starts shouting, why won't you just fucking die, will have you in stitches, pray to the Gods that you make it through this one alive, highly recommended....😁🧟⭐

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Dark and moody good grimdark fun

Ok, so I’m gonna get right to the chase here. This book was fully awesome. It exceeded my expectations, which is no disservice to the author, Lee C. Conley, rather it’s an insight into me being a cynical bastard.

There is a lot to like about this book. But almost more than anything, I would say the style of writing made me fall in love with it. Conley has an easy, graceful way about his work. This is especially delightful given the subject matter: plague, vomiting blood, undead eating the alive, cannibalism, and other such dark and violent shenanigans.

The main POV’s we follow are equally engaging (often hard to do, and as an author of multi POV, I really respect what Conley has achieved). The setting well sculpted, the dialogue crisp and real. The violence, although graphic, was not overplayed.

As an indie author, I’m a big supporter of our ‘slice of the pie’. There are a great many excellent indie books out there, that merit attention and respect. This is certainly one of them, and easily one of the best books I’ve read* this year.

*I listened to the audio version, narrated brilliantly by R.J. Bayley, it swept me up and was just so much fun.

Book 2, A Ritual Of Flesh is out tomorrow (10th October). I for one will be getting it! You should get on book 1 it’s incredible!

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Cracking Listen!

The narrator was absolutely exceptional I wish he read all my audio books!! cracking listen we written left you wanting the next book to be written and audio'd straight away!! The main character is excellent and I cant wait to hear what a not so main character in this book (Bjorn) who I have no doubt will come into his own in the next books.... really enjoyed!!

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So much fun to listen to!

Lee Conley's “A Ritual Of Bone” is a relentless tale. Dark magic has brought a dire plague to the land – a plaque which reanimates the dead and turns anyone infected by them into something equally nightmarish. Set in a bleak, Norse-esque region, the unrelenting tone paints the picture in stark clarity; even any mention of trees and grasses does little to add colour to the gritty image of dirt, stone, death and stalwart individuals that dominate the story. The combination of the various locales of the setting were, for me, particularly reminiscent of the Elder Scrolls and could almost fit nicely as a spiritual companion story to that game series. In fact, I would say that A Ritual Of Bone (and further books in Lee Conleey's Dead Sagas series) would make for a great TV series to fill the niche between Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

I listened to the audio edition of this book, and I really must say how excellent a narrator RJ Bayley is. His grim narrative tones drip with a brooding menace, and his character voices are perfect for the setting. Right from the offset, while listening to him deliver this tale I found him strongly reminiscent of one of my favourite voice actors, the great Matt Berry, and yet RJ Bayley is no cheap imitation; in fact, I would say that his delivery of A Ritual Of Bone has given me the most enjoyment I've had from an audiobook in a long while. Massive kudos to Mr Conley and Mr Bayley for breathing life and undeath into this story.

When the audio edition of the second book in the Dead Sagas is published, I would certainly like to listen to it, both to hear RJ Bayley's delivery again and to find out what lies in store for the surviving characters of this unfolding ttale. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys grimdark or any other form of gritty adult-oriented fantasy.

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  • Rusty Miller
  • 27-11-20

Zombies + Vikings = worked for me

Honestly, I don’t read much zombie fiction. I know I have a pretty low tolerance for horror, so I tend to avoid certain elements that could be lurking to scare me. Saying that, I am glad that I read A Ritual of Bone by Lee Conley. That is not to say that it was not scary. Heavens no!

Given my limited perspective on zombie lore, this book felt like a comfortable blend of several aspects that might be under-represented: 1) the origins of the outbreak, 2) existence among those infect of a spectrum of change, and 3) the possibility of morality and communication on the part of the zombies. Maybe I’m naïve and these are all somewhat common, but for me as a zombie novice, they were a welcome departure from what I was expecting. These (and more) are what kept me turning the pages though the scary bits (figuratively, since it was an audiobook, which was well done, but I digress …)

1. I enjoyed hearing the tales of the university masters and their apprentices who are exploring the use of dark magic to reanimate life. To me this gave a greater context for what was going on. It also gave me a clear person toward which I could direct my anger.

2. The story explained that a person injured by a zombie (by bite or otherwise), might never show signs of changing, while others might have changed more quickly or slowly than expected. This was an intriguing twist that created a high amount of uncertainty and suspense.

3. Similarly to the last point, it seemed that some of those infected held onto more of their humanity and resisted the savage nature. Some could communicate or express some morality. Why is this? Can they be redeemed? This opens it up for a lot of possibilities.

I also don’t reach much Viking-type stories. This is more of a preference. So, while I am not (in general) a fan of zombie or Viking stories, they strangely seemed to fit in this book. I certainly stayed engaged and curious all the way through.

I would certainly recommend this for anyone who is looking for something a little different. 4.2/5 stars.

(Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the audiobook. Very generous and appreciated.)

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  • FanFiAddict
  • 02-06-20

Solid Fantasy/Horror Mishmash

Rating: 7.5/10

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.