I received an ARC of this book from Orbit in exchange for an honest review. “No man is above the law”, probably the most clique statement you can find in our society today but in The Sovan Empire it rings true. The Emperor dispatches his Justices throughout the land to enforce his laws against heretics and those who would worship the wrong Gods. The Justice of Kings tells the story of one such Justice but told through the eyes of his clerk. This Justice is destined to cause great harm and chaos throughout the empire and this is his story.
Sir Konrad Vonvalt is one of several Justices to the Emperor and it is his duty to enforce the law as written. Equipped with the Emperor’s voice, which compels his witnesses to speak the truth, plus with a bit of necromancy no man or woman can escape his whim. Helena Sedanka is the clerk of Sir Konrad and this is a much her story as his. Orphaned at a young age, the Justice took her under his wing to learn the law of the land. A murder in the Rill has caught both our main characters attention and a deep seeded plot will unfold involving politics, magic, and treachery that will lead to the heart of the Empire itself. The rules of law we will learned throughout the journey but they may need to change to catch the people responsible.
I was hooked from the very first page as Richard Swan sure knows how to grab a readers attention. With great pacing and first person POV the plot just captures you and will not let go. The mystery narrative to go along with a fantasy world is a nice combination and one I am seeing more and more in recent years. The characters are the shining stars here and they will steal your heart time and time again. One other interesting tidbit which I discovered later in the book, this story is chronicled by Helena in her rip old age. Helena will tell you how the Empire dissolved into chaos and what the route causes were. Very reminiscent of the storytelling of the Farseer Trilogy or Godkiller Chronicles but with a faster moving plot.
Fans of mystery novels, excellent characters, and even readers with a background in law will have a blast with this novel. The world and concept are completely original and will expand your imagination for what a fantasy novel can be. This will be a top read in my 2022 class for sure and I know it will be in many of yours as well.