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Monday, February 6, 2023

The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan - Review

 


Official Author Website
Read a review of Book One, The Justice of Kings
Order the book HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Richard was born in North Yorkshire and spent most of his early life on Royal Air Force bases in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. He studied law at the University of Manchester, and spent the following ten years as a litigator.

Between 2015 and 2018, Richard self-published "The Art of War Trilogy", a sequence of epic space opera novels, as well as a prequel ("Hadan's Reach") and two spinoff mil-sci-fi novellas ("VIPER One", and "VIPER One: Countervalue", the latter co-authored with George Lockett).

Richard's debut fantasy "Empire of the Wolf" trilogy recently sold to Orbit Books, with the first instalment coming out in February 2022.

Richard currently lives and writes in Sydney, Australia.



FORMAT/INFO: The Tyranny of Faith will be published February 14th, 2023 by Orbit Books. It is 560 pages split over 40 chapters and an epilogue. It is told in first person from Helena's POV. It is available in paperback, ebook and audiobook format

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Empire of the Wolf is under threat. Having discovered a conspiracy of factions hoping to seize power, Sir Justice Konrad Vonvalt and his clerk Helena have returned to the capitol city of Sova to root out the traitors. But no sooner has Vonvalt made progress in his investigation than the grandson of the emperor is kidnapped. With the city on the brink of unrest, Vonvalt, Helena, and their allies must work quickly to recover the grandson, a feat that becomes increasingly difficult when it becomes clear that their enemies have otherworldly allies on their side.

The Tyranny of Faith is a gripping tragedy of empire infused with gothic horror. From sentence one of The Justice of Kings, readers have known that this series is about the fall of an empire, and The Tyranny of Faith starts moving that portion of the plot forward in earnest. A layer of foreboding and tension hangs over events right out of the gate in the sequel, with everything from foreshadowing to the descriptions of the dark looming architecture reinforcing the oppressive atmosphere.

Our motely band is back, with Helena once again the POV character as she works with Sir Konrad, Sir Radomir, and Bressinger to try and keep the empire from completely falling apart. Readers have already seen Sir Konrad dealing with his view of the world order being shaken, and he continues to grow into an increasingly flawed character. He is one of the only people who can stop the schemes of the Templars, but the only way he can see to do so is to violate the very laws he swears to uphold. It’s part of a central theme of the book, the struggle of whether applying laws strictly by the book truly leads to “justice,” if standing by your principals is the right thing when your enemies are willing to do whatever it takes.

The Tyranny of Faith also sees a deeper dive into the necromantic powers of the Justices, including one character visiting the afterlife itself. Those sections are written with perfect dream logic, abrupt cuts between scenes showing the disjointed ways one traverses this strange plane. Most haunting of all are the afterlife’s denizens, demons and gods that have their own designs on the mortal plane. Most of the story remains grounded, but the supernatural is beginning to spill more and more into the “real” world, and the consequences are dramatic.

CONCLUSION: The Tyranny of Faith in my estimation has moved the Empire of the Wolf series from Good to Great. It capitalizes on the groundwork laid in the first book and leans into the tragedy of knowing that things will not end well, even as our heroes try to prevent the worst. You won’t find a particularly happy ending, and yet I found myself no less compelled to read. We already know the outcome of this story; all that remains is to see what things Helena, Konrad, and the others can salvage as everything falls to ruin.

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