The Justice of Kings (Empire of the Wolf #1) – Richard Swan

You would not feel a thing. Helena, please understand that nothing would break my heart more, but I would rather it was me, and cleanly.

Ah I absolutely love when a book completely wrecks my heart and soul, that’s what I look for whenever a pick up a new book.

The absolute hold that this book had over me, especially the last half, it felt impossible to put down. I had to know what was going to happen next, I was constantly left on the edge of my seat, well bed since that’s where I read. I spent a lot of time physically talking to this book, a lot of “no please” or “your lying, tell me your lying” “no not him why, why would you do this to me” and my favorite ” I swear Mr Swan I will be very angry with you if you kill him”. Which of course promptly left me a crying mess, because Mr Swan said “haha screw you Alyssa I will destroy your heart” He has since told me that The Tyranny of Faith, book 2, will “wreck my ass” so I am looking forward to that. Now I do have to say not all the moments I was crying where tears of sadness, there was a moment of pure happy tears, Swan got me good, and I have never been so happy, though I do fear for the direction of this characters story, I hadn’t realized how much they meant to me.

This is one of the few books where I genuinely loved every character (well not Claver, or Westenholtz screw them guys) but the main cast, Helena, Vonvalt, Bressinger, gah I just love them all for so many reasons. I loved the father like vibes both Vonvalt and Bressinger had with Helena, but then there was also the mentor/apprentice vibes they had with her too. But then Vonvalt was also Helena’s boss so there was that dynamic, and Bressinger had that co-worker vibe with Helena since he too was employed by Vonvalt. So many different kinds of dynamics was displayed between these three and it really helped bring them to life. The three of them just worked so well with each other. Even though the story is a recounting from Helena’s own mouth Swan managed to give depth to the other characters through Helena’s recounting. I even enjoyed how Swan touched on Helena being confused about whether she was attracted to Vonvalt, and even possibly jealous at times. I felt he did a really good job with portraying Helena and her feelings. This book also has one of the few instances of “insta-love” where I didn’t get angry, because of how Helena herself presented it. (Also in case you care there is a jab at the “one bed trope” and I thought it was hilarious, because I hate that trope lol)

Helena was a great narrator for this story, she managed to give life to everyone around her. She also had moments of reminding us she was recounting the events that she was involved in. I loved how she would would take moments to speak directly to us and she even let us know the outcome of a certain character, which I’m grateful for not having to wait multiple books to know the final outcome of said character, although it did break my heart leave me a crying mess. She breathed life into the events and the world around her, while also expressing how depressing this world honestly sounds. It’s a struggle between a religious order and the Emperor’s order. One kind of religious construct was pushed out and another put in its place that not surprisingly sounds an awful lot like the one that was removed. I love plot lines that have a religious man that is definitely a fanatic and goes to insane lengths to get what he wants. Do I like them burning an entire town to the ground after they have been rightfully judged, no, but I have this desire to see Claver become more crazy and unhinged in his quest, I want and hope that he will, I love seeing people who think they are right just completely lose themselves. Just like how I’m getting to see Vonvalt’s descent into anger I want to see Claver’s descent into chaos and madness.

The Magic was one of my favorite elements. The minute Vonvalt used the Emperor’s Voice I was like “more, yes more please”. The way Swan described how the magic of the Emperor’s Voice worked made it truly horrifying if you were on the receiving end. But it was also how Vonvalt chose to utilize it, he didn’t rely on it and used it only when necessary (or when he was livid) and it made the feel of it more frightening, while also making you yearn for it more, he didn’t just sling it around like so many other books with magic. And the same can be said for his necromancy magic, the less the magic was used the more I yearned for it. The information we got on how the magic is dealt out to each Justice was intriguing and I hope we get to see more Justices in later installments who have a wide range of magic, I’m interested to see what Swan comes up with.

The Justice of Kings was a book that by 12% I knew was going to be a 5 star read for me, and I have this feeling the trilogy is going to be a favorite of mine once it’s complete. When I think about it, I have zero negative thoughts about this book, it was absolutly amazing from start to finish. I am looking forward to seeing where the story goes next.


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