Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by ThoughtsStained
As you may know, ever since I devoured Exiles of Empire by Erin M. Evans, I am positively itching for more mystery fantasy. The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan seemed like it might fit the bill. It does detail a man of justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt, who is a “detective, judge and executioner all in one.” But while this was a mysterious story, and an overall enjoyable read, it did leave me with some feelings of things left to be desired.
An ARC copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Publisher: Orbit Books | Release Date: Feb. 2022 | Pages: 403
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paperback | Source: ARC
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.
On the Page
- Amputation (loss of limb)
- Animal death
- Blood and gore
- Captivity and confinement
- Dead bodies and body parts
- Death of a
- loved one
- Massacres and mass murders
- Physical injuries
- Religious persecution
- Building collapse
- Rape (threatened, never acted upon)
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- In-depth worldbuilding. You can definitely tell that this novel was well-researched and well-plotted. Swan having a background as a lawyer himself shines through in the politics of this world.
- Helena’s narration. I loved Helena! She was a fascinating character and I loved seeing her work. (Particularly alone, like during a certain covert mission.)
- Mystery elements and foreshadowing. I really enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery. Also, the foreshadowing of future events to come was a great tension builder.
- Writing itself. I’m certainly in the minority of this, but I thought the writing itself was…just okay? It wasn’t bad or poor by any sense of the imagination. But it didn’t wow me, either.
- Pacing. This book could have been 100 pages shorter and I would have been happy with that.
Overall, I enjoyed The Justice of Kings! I certainly plan to continue the series–mostly, so I can see what happens with Helena. But, I’m also not itching to continue it immediately. (As evidence that I do currently own a copy of The Tyranny of Kings, but I plan to switch to read something else, first.) However, the reception seems to be much more positive than my indifferent liking.
So, if you’re into in-depth politics, religious-versus-law dynamics and lots of horseback riding between towns, The Justice of Kings might be for you!