Awesome fantasy reads are incredibly hard to come by these days. The industry seems to be suffering from an infestation of average reads. They are not poor reads, mind you. Average.
You see, it’s the average reads that you find the most frustrating, as the initial promise and eventual disappointment are much more annoying than the realization that you’re reading pure shite.
The Justice of Kings belongs to neither category. In fact, it’s only scoring 4/5 stars because I feel particularly stingy at the moment. The truth is that the book is worth a healthy 5/5 stars and nothing less. But let posterity look back at this review many decades from now and say that I was a nasty book critic, haha.
But I digress.
The Justice of Kings is an awesome GrimDark read that portrays the ideals of human morality and justice in a freshly original light.
While the likes of Joe Abercrombie and G.R.R Martin stick to the deeds and the various shades of gray, Richard Swan’s take on GrimDark is slightly different.
He tells his tale from the eyes of one of the protagonists, who, ironically, isn’t the MC but a second-person POV. As such, we see the MC not from their own angle nor a dispassionate third-person POV narrator. Rather, we see their deeds from the eyes of a close associate. When examined in retrospect, the effect is quite interesting and impressive, as we can better appreciate the nuances of the MC’s inner moral battles and inner questing.
As a result, it’s a very character-based book, interspersed with moments of retrospective self-examination, external criticism, and moral dilemma by the support MC and the rather interesting tone of her narrative voice.
The Justice of Kings is what I’d call an “investigative fantasy” with enough thrill and suspense to be worthy of something by Sidney Sheldon.
I’ll go as far as comparing Richard Swan to Sidney Sheldon (who, I believe, writes better literary suspense than anyone else). Only this time, the scope is vast (being a fantasy read), and the MC is too lovable.
You can’t help but like Sir Konrad Vonvalt and his stiff, professional demeanor- the epitome of democratic justice. His development throughout the book is quite interesting to read, and his evolution is enough to provoke plenty of debate among readers of this book.
The secondary MC, Helena, is, well, Helena. She’s an interesting person in her own right. Despite the crucial role she plays in resolving the plot’s conflict, she’s still very much the prism through which we see the life and deeds of Sir Konrad Vonvalt.
I have many questions for this particular author, which I hope to pose as soon as I finish reading The Tyranny of Faith.
For now, I’ll say that Richard Swan has just landed himself an ardent fan. Great job with this!