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Review: The Justice of Kings: Empire of the Wolf Book 01

Synopsis

The Justice of Kings, the first in a new epic fantasy trilogy, follows the tale of Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one. As he unravels a web of secrets and lies, Vonvalt discovers a plot that might destroy his order once and for all – and bring down the entire Empire. 

As an Emperor’s Justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt always has the last word. His duty is to uphold the law of the empire using whatever tools he has at his disposal: whether it’s his blade, the arcane secrets passed down from Justice to Justice, or his wealth of knowledge of the laws of the empire. But usually his reputation as one of the most revered—and hated—Justices is enough to get most any job done. 

When Vonvalt investigates the murder of a noblewoman, he finds his authority being challenged like never before. As the simple case becomes more complex and convoluted, he begins to pull at the threads that unravel a conspiracy that could see an end to all Justices, and a beginning to lawless chaos across the empire. 

Goodreads

Review

The Justice of Kings is the first book in the Empire of the Wolf trilogy by Richard Swan and is certainly a page-turner! We follow Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice—a person who travels the empire, investigates investigating crimes and upholds the law—as he uncovers a complex web of criminal activity while investigating the murder of a noblewoman.

Vonvalt is accompanied by Dubine, a friend from Vonvalt’s time in the war who has his demons, and Helena, Vovalt’s clerk who battles her conscience regarding the life she wants to lead and what she owes to Vonvalt, who rescued her from the streets.

“You cannot kill another human being and fail to be affected by it, even if they are an enemy.”

Typically, we’d expect the POV to be that of Vonvalt, however, Swan tells the story from Helena’s POV, and it works very well as she ties the three together and their history together has subtle complexities. By telling the story through the eyes of Helena, Swan is able to tackle the balance between justice and morality, which he would not be able to do with Vonvalt, given his pure dedication to the law. Essentially, though Vonvalt is the main character we are told his story through the critical eye of Helena.

The world Swan has created isn’t your typical fantastical world of mythical creatures and magic, though Vonvalt, and other Justices, possess an interesting variety of abilities. Vonvalt has both The Emperor’s Voice—a booming voice which pushes the target to tell the truth—and the ability to reanimate and speak to the recently deceased. There is plenty of lore in the world, which is dripped throughout and I’m excited to see where this leads in book 2.

I don’t want to discuss the progress of events as these are best unveiled when you read The Justice of Kings. However, you can expect plenty of mystery that will have you guessing at people’s motivations and who may have done what. I also found myself very much in Helena’s position and asking the same questions, particularly as The Justice of Kings reached its culmination—one where things really take a turn for the worst for the empire.

“It is impossible to impress upon a man the severity of a situation until the point of its remedy is long past. ‘Tis something to do with the nature of a human being, that ingrained idiocy. The gods must shake their heads at us in disbelief.”—JUSTICE SOPHIA JURAS

Rating: 4 out of 5.