The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan #bookreview #TheJusticeOfKings #EmpireOfTheWolf

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. 


Hi and welcome to my review of The Justice of Kings!

This is usually the space where I tell you all about a book I loved reading… Sadly, today is not that kind of day… 

The long and short of it is that The Justice of Kings never quite drew me in and I never got invested, I didn’t feel anything while reading it. Sure there were scenes that I enjoyed, some very much even. However, for me it dragged too much in too many places. At times I caught myself skimming cos I found the story rather… dare I say it… boring. 

My proof copy’s jacket speaks of an “unforgettable protagonist”. I am well aware that such statements should be taken with a pinch of salt, but guys, in this case there’s not enough salt in the sea. Sir Konrad left no indelible mark on this reader, all I’m left with is a weak carbon copy of other, more interesting, fantasy heroes. A brooding, grumpy, solitary but just man? You know, the strong and silent type? Now where have I heard that before? 🤔

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Right you are, Geralt! That same jacket also speaks of “action, intrigue and magic”. My takeaway from The Justice of Kings is rather: a whole lot of political, legal, moral and religious talking. Intrigue? None that felt particularly intriguing. Action? Too little too late. Magic? What, those few instances Sir Konrad speaks in his “Emperor’s Voice” and people have no choice but to obey, or that brief moment of necromancy? Might as well call it a period drama because there’s that one scene where the narrator talks about her dress for all of five seconds. Honestly? I feel a teensy weensy bit duped, I can’t help it. Like I was promised to be taken on this grand adventure but I was given a longwinded lecture instead.

Maybe it’s the jaded side of me that’s doing the talking at the moment, but nothing about The Justice of Kings felt original to me. And the bits where the author obviously tried to be original, it just convoluted things or it fell flat entirely.

Look, at the time of my writing this, The Justice of Kings has a 4.25 average rating on Goodreads. Obviously, everyone and their dog loved this book. Clearly I read a completely different book. If you enjoy political slow-burning fantasy that doesn’t have too many fantastical elements, then don’t let me discourage you from giving The Justice of Kings a whirl.

The Justice of Kings is out in eBook and audiobook on 22 February, with the hardcover to follow on the 24th, and the paperback in August.

Thanks to Orbit for sending me a surprise proof, despite the fact that I didn’t gel with it. All opinions are my own.

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