ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.
Cover art illustrated by: Martina Fackova
Cover designed by: Lauren Panepinto
The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Empire of the Wolf (Book #2 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy
Pages: 560 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 14th February 2023 by Orbit (US) & 16th February 2023 by Orbit (UK)
The Tyranny of Faith is a great sequel filled with wonderful characterizations, thought-provoking passages, and explosive ending sequences.
“If our lives were inherently meaningless, were we not obliged to extract every happiness from it that we could?”
First things first, if it has been a while since you’ve read The Justice of Kings and you don’t have the time to reread the first book before reading this one, Richard Swan has prepared a detailed recap of what happened in the first book on his website. Make sure to check it out. I used it, too, and I certainly benefitted from it because I read The Justice of Kings in late 2021. And it wouldn’t be right for me to start this review without giving a proper shoutout to the cover artist, Martina Fackova. I thought the cover art to The Justice of Kings, the first book in the Empire of the Wolf trilogy, which features Justice Konrad Vonvalt, was incredibly striking already. However, Fackova topped it even further with the beautiful cover art of The Tyranny of Faith. Helena Sedanka in the cover art looks badass, and I think this is another victorious cover art from the artist and Orbit Books. I am curious to find out what the cover art of the third and final book of the trilogy will look like. The same goes for the content of the third book, too, of course! But all of that remains to be seen. For now, this is my review of The Tyranny of Faith, the riveting sequel to The Justice of Kings.
“No event simply occurs. Each is the culmination of countless factors that trace their long roots back to the beginning of time. It is easy to bemoan an era of great upheaval as a sudden commingling of misfortunes– but the discerning eye of history tells us that there are few coincidences where the schemes of man are concerned.”—JUSTICE (AS HE THEN WAS) EMMANUEL KANE, THE LEGAL ARMOURY: ENTANGLEMENT, NECROMANCY, AND DIVINATION
The story in The Tyranny of Faith continues from where the previous book ended. The Battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but that doesn’t mean the war for the Empire of the Wolf’s future is finished. The majority of the plot in this book takes place in a new setting, the capital city of Sova. And this capital city is evidently gripped by whispers of conflict and rebellion. Justice Konrad Vonvalt, Helena Sedanka, Dubine Bressinger, and Sir Radomir, however, are ordered by the Emperor to focus on a quest to rescue the missing prince first instead. No man is above the law. If you have heard or read a review or two about The Justice of Kings, there is a good chance you would know about this phrase. Law, morality, and justice are some of the main themes of the first book, and if you loved reading about them before, I am confident you will love reading what Swan has in store in The Tyranny of Faith.
“There are times when a guilty person must go free. There are other times when the difference between a just killing and murder is procedural formality.”
I have a difficult time deciding which book I love more, The Justice of Kings or The Tyranny of Faith. Halfway through the novel, I was confident I loved the first book more. This isn’t to say The Tyranny of Faith was ever bad or boring to me. Swan’s prose did not allow me to feel bored reading his books; if we’re speaking of writing quality and memorable passages about justice and morality, this one was unquestionably superior to the first book. But the entire plotline regarding the missing prince almost felt like filler. I knew it wouldn’t be the case; there MUST be something important to this plot thread that takes up more or less half of the book. And yeah, there were. But we did not reap the satisfying result until late into the novel. Until we reached the last 30% of the book, the pacing sometimes felt on and off to me. I will go back to talking about the final 30% of the book later. Allow me to say this first. Even though this missing prince quest felt like filler initially, Swan did include many crucial character moments and development as compensation.
“History is neat. It is packaged, artificially broken up into epochs, and dissected remotely, both geographically and temporally, with the benefit of long hindsight. The reality of living through these turbulent times was much different. Matters are insidious. They build up over time, like small pieces of wood being chipped out of a supporting beam. Complexities and nuances are lost in the retelling of the story. Even this personal account omits a great deal.”
Just like in the first book, the narrator of the series is still Konrad Vonvalt’s apprentice and protege: Helena Sedanka. This does not change the fact Justice Konrad Vonvalt is one of the main characters. Heck, sometimes I even forgot this book is written from the perspective of Helena just because so many story and conflicts centers around Vonvalt’s and his decisions. But comparatively, there were several scenes where Helena shined bright in the spotlight. In The Justice of Kings, Vonvalt, Helena, and Dubine Bressinger were the trio characters of the book. In The Tyranny of Faith, Sir Radomir can now be added to the equation, and the book is better for it. These characters are lonely individuals, and they don’t have a lot of, or any, real friends other than each other. I think the relationship development between Konrad Vonvalt and Helena Sedanka will be divisive among readers. Even as I write this review, I am still unsure what to think about it. However, I am confident many will agree it was so good and heartwarming seeing the relationship development between every one of these four characters and having more background revealed on Vonvalt and Dubine.
“It is strange how when two people are of one mind, thoughts can be expressed as clearly as if some third party were to appear out of thin air and speak them aloud.”
To me, one of the most surprising elements of this book was how much the villain grew to become so memorable. We know that Vonvalt wouldn’t be the perfect paragon of virtue Helena seemed to think he is. I do not consider it a spoiler at all to say that. But Vonvalt’s existence and the tenacity of the law keepers are necessary to fight against the evil that is Bartholomew Claver. My memory of Claver was a bit hazy at first. He felt like a forgettable villain in the first book for the sake of being the target enemy of the main characters. That notion has changed here. I don’t want to say much on this, but Claver is a superb example of what would happen if evil is left unchecked for too long.
“In peace send me the kind, the goodly, and the strong of heart. In war give me the cruel, the hardy, those who will act in want of all honour. The latter build nations; the former sustain them.” COUNT HAMER VON SCHOFF, 2ND MARGRAVE OF SEAGUARD
With a more terrifying villain and increasing danger, it is safe to expect the conflict and circumstances our main characters struggled with here to be more threatening. I’ve mentioned in my review of The Justice of Kings that the world of the series didn’t utilize many magicks. Yes, we have Emperor’s Voice, used by Justices to command people to answer questions truthfully, but that’s mostly it. This situation is no longer the case here. The Tyranny of Faith displayed grimoires, magicks, and supernaturals that are more potent, violent, and destructive in their nature and execution frequently. And the final 30% of the novel was insane, intense, and brimming with explosive action scenes. Swan did a terrific job writing these chaotic scenes, immersing readers into the chaos and stakes of the situation emotionally and vividly with ease. Everything came together in the final pages of the novel nicely. The wait for the final volume of the series, currently planned to be published in 2024, will be painful. But as always, I will be patient.
“Humankind is not so self-terminating that we would allow our greatest quality– that of our capacity for hope– to be fully extinguished. But I shall readily admit that there are times when we are reduced to fanning the embers.” MISTRESS OF THE MAGISTRATUM NEVENKA ZORIĆ
Overall, The Tyranny of Faith is another enthralling volume in the Empire of the Wolf trilogy. Ask me today, and I will say The Justice of Kings in its entirety is a better book, but ask me tomorrow, and I might end up choosing The Tyranny of Faith over it. The halfway portion of the book did feel like filler at times, but it’s worth persevering through. The ending sequence of this book was so impactful, and I am eagerly looking forward to reading the third book as soon as possible.
“The Nemans preach that if one is good and moral in the course of their life, paradise awaits them in the afterlife. Well, in my experience the afterlife and everything in it is completely indifferent to us and our ‘souls’. One should lead a good and moral life because that is the right thing to do as an end in itself.”
You can pre-order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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