Book Review: The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 2 of Empire of the Wolf

Publisher: Orbit (February 14, 2023)

Length: 560 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Exhilaration and heartbreak—and everything in between. That’s what I experienced reading this sequel to my favorite book of 2022, the stunning fantasy debut by Richard Swan that was The Justice of Kings, and I’m happy to say the Empire of the Wolf series is in no way slowing down with The Tyranny of Faith.

For one, we pick up almost immediately following the events of the last book. The Battle of Galen’s Vale may have ended, but the work has just begun for Justice Konrad Vonvalt, whose duty as the Emperor’s lawkeeper means tracking down the perpetrators of this growing rebellion. Once more, the narrative is told through the eyes of Helena Sedanka, who is looking back into the past and recalling her time as a much younger woman traveling with the legendary Justice and her companions Dubine Bressinger and Sir Radomir. As they make their way to the capital city of Sova following the whispers of sedition, Vonvolt is also wracked by a mysterious illness exacerbated by what he has come here to do—root out those who are said to have been conspiring with Bartholomew Claver and his templar knights, some of whom have been Vonvolt’s closest friends and colleagues.

Loathe as she is to believe it though, Helena cannot deny the Emperor’s allegations as more evidence mounts of the city’s nobles speaking opening against his rule. Vonvolt does what he does best, purging Sova of those alleged to be traitors, but just as he is about to make headway on the hunt for Claver, the Emperor’s grandson is kidnapped. Sensing a distraction, Vonvolt wants to continue on his path but the Emperor will hear none of it, ordering the Justice and his team to focus on rescuing the young prince.

If this series is a trilogy, then we have now reached The Empire Strikes Back point of the story arc. The plotting is near-perfect as the tensions surrounding the rebellion builds and readers are transported to the heart of the rot, where dissidents have been slowly chipping away at the authority of the Emperor and throwing the government of Sova into chaos.

But my favorite part of the book, not surprisingly, was the character development. Helena, oh how I love Helena! Barely out of her teens when this story takes place, she still has much to learn about the world, not to mention plenty of idealistic beliefs yet to be shattered. One of these is her faith in Sir Vonvolt’s infallibility, which is challenged again and again as she realizes her mentor can make mistakes like anyone else. Her trust in the system is also tested when she is faced with morally gray questions that she can’t answer by falling back on the rule of the law. Happily, older Helena, the version telling this tale, is refreshingly candid and unabashed about her youthful naivete, going into unflinchingly honest detail about everything from her humiliating misadventures to her awkward and ineffable feelings towards Sir Vonvolt. We also clearly see how she has grown both physically and mentally between the two books. I’ve rarely felt such a strong connection to a character, but the way Helena was written made her feel completely genuine and believable.

The supporting characters were also superb. From The Justice of Kings, we already know Bressinger quite well, but in The Tyranny of Faith our traveling party is joined by Sir Radomir, a lawman who has decided that Vonvolt’s cause is a worthy one to join. Both men struggle with their own demons, but together with Helena the trio form an unshakeable friendship that can weather any storm.

There’s absolutely no brakes on the plot either. There’s mystery, action, and intrigue, with every development expertly crafted, each revelation building upon the last. I can’t remember the last time I read such an invigorating epic fantasy blending magic and adventure, war and treachery, tender love and heart-wrenching tragedy, all this and more in one mind-blowing package.

In the end, I finished The Tyranny of Faith feeling both exultant and emotionally destroyed. Like The Justice of Kings, this sequel was also masterpiece in worldbuilding and storytelling, and I simply cannot recommend this series enough. How Richard Swan will follow up this volume remains to be seen, all I know is I can hardly wait to read the next book. If you’re a fan of the genre, you must check out Empire of the Wolf.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Justice of Kings (Book 1)

20 Comments on “Book Review: The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan”

  1. I decided not to request this sequel and I am really regretting it now as all the reviews have been brilliant. I’ll just have to wait until it gets published 😢


  2. I’ve not read anything by this author but I do have an ebook of The Justice of Kings so I’m very glad to see the series doesn’t let down with the second book. Looking forward to one day trying this series and author.


  3. This book came for the throat and did not let go! I expected to enjoy it and move on and instead it has latched onto my brain and won’t let go. Easy contender for top five of 2023 for me. So glad you enjoyed it too!


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