Book Review

The Tyranny Of Faith By Richard Swan

The Tyranny of Faith

  • Author: Richard Swan
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: February 14, 2023
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Series: Empire of the Wolf #2

Thank you to Orbit and Angela Man for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: blood, suicide, gore, kidnapping, grief, trauma, torture, violence, gore, alcoholism, mention of death of a child, death

From a major new author in epic fantasy comes the second book in a trilogy where action, intrigue, and magic collide.

Sir Konrad Vonvalt is an Emperor’s Justice: A detective, judge, and executioner all in one. But these are turbulent times, and a Justice’s work is never done.

The battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but the war for the Empire’s future has just begun. Concerned by rumors that the Magistratum’s authority is waning, Sir Konrad Vonvalt returns to Sova to find the capital city gripped by intrigue and whispers of rebellion. In the Senate, patricians speak openly against the Emperor, while fanatics preach holy vengeance on the streets.

Yet facing down these threats to the throne will have to wait, for the Emperor’s grandson has been kidnapped—and Vonvalt is charged with rescuing the missing prince. His quest will lead him—and his allies Helena, Bressinger, and Sir Radomir—to the southern Frontier, where they will once again face the puritanical fury of Bartholemew Claver and his Templar knights…and a dark power far more terrifying than they could have imagined.

I absolutely loved the first book in this series, and I was a little worried about how the second book would stack up against the first. But I honestly had nothing to worry about. This book was even better than the last one, and that says a lot, because book 1 was fantastic.

The story picks up immediately after the last one left off. As Helena accompanies Vonvalt and crew back to Sova, the plot starts to thicken almost immediately. Vonvalt is dealing with some kind of illness that occupies some of his attention, while the rest is immediately seized by the changes he finds in Sova. There’s intrigue around every corner, and the city is teetering on the edge of rebellion, with preachers on every street corner and statements against the Emperor being openly expressed in the Senate. And now Vonvalt is tasked with clearing up the disloyalty in the Magistratum. 

But just as he starts working on that, the Emperor’s grandson and heir goes missing, and Vonvalt is reassigned. He and his crew are provided with all the resources available, and told to drop anything else in favor of finding the missing prince. However, he’s convinced that all the major issues are linked by one major source—Bartholemew Claver, yet the Emperor doesn’t want to hear about it, and directs Vonvalt to put his suspicions aside.

I really loved the choice to have this narrated by Helena, Vonvalt’s assistant and mentee/trainee, although she hasn’t quite made the decision to be trained as a Justice yet. We get even more insight into her character, as she is put into one difficult situation after another, and we see her inner strength as she risks everything to save the people that she loves. Throughout book 1 and into this book, there’s a tension between Helena and Vonvalt, and their relationship is explored more deeply in this book. They have a difficult relationship, because there’s obviously a sexual connection, but there’s also a power differential in their relationship, and it also affects the other two in their crew because it has an impact on how they all manage to work together. This only gets worse when they’re forced to work with other people.

There’s a lot of action involved in this. While there’s a lot of political intrigue going on, our characters get involved in some battles and skirmishes. I loved seeing each of the characters fight, even Helena, who is just starting to get comfortable with using weapons and fighting. She’s still not anywhere near the skill level as her peers, but she can definitely hold her own, and it’s clear that her upbringing as a street orphan comes in handy as she makes use of her surroundings and opportunity to get out of difficult situations. 

Ultimately, the plotting, magic, and character development in this story continues to blow my mind. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book, just like I said with the last book. There’s so many plot twists involved in this story that I have no idea where it’s going, and what to expect. Swan is at the top of his game, and I’ve got some seriously high expectations for the completion of this trilogy.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 25

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