The Trials of Empire – Richard Swan

The Trials of Empire by Richard Swan
Also by this author: The Justice of Kings, The Tyranny of Faith
Series: Empire of the Wolf #3
Published by Orbit on February 6, 2024
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon

The third novel in an epic fantasy trilogy, which follows the tale of Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one.
The Empire of the Wolf is on its knees, but there's life in the great beast yet.
To save it, Sir Konrad Vonvalt and Helena must look beyond its borders for allies - to the wolfmen of the southern plains, and the pagan clans in the north. But old grievances run deep, and both factions would benefit from the fall of Sova.
Even these allies might not be enough. Their enemy, the zealot Bartholomew Claver, wields infernal powers bestowed on him by a mysterious demonic patron. If Vonvalt and Helena are to stand against him, they will need friends on both sides of the mortal plane—but such allegiances carry a heavy price.
As the battlelines are drawn in both Sova and the afterlife, the final reckoning draws close. Here, at the beating heart of the Empire, the two-headed wolf will be reborn in a blaze of justice . . . or crushed beneath the shadow of tyranny.

You know the viral meme from the Titanic film? Of an elderly Rose, saying “It’s been 84 years?” That’s how I felt waiting on The Trials of Empire by Richard Swan. I cannot say this loudly enough, so it’s going in all caps: READ THE PLOT SUMMARY FOR THE TYRRANY OF FAITH BEFORE PICKING UP THE TRIALS OF EMPIRE. The summary is available on Richard Swan’s website (here). In my excitement to finally have the third book, I didn’t do this. And I should’ve. I read The Tyranny of Faith nine months before The Trials of Empire. I was so lost. I’d forgotten much about The Tyranny of Faith.

Anyway, forgive the lack of professionalism and poise, as I was far too excited about The Trials of Empire to portray my thoughts formally. The Trials of Empire is magnificent. Swan transports readers back into his world as though they never left. The villains are more wicked, the stakes are higher, and Helena is forced to develop her own convictions about just what Vonvalt is doing. It’s a question most combatants face today. Do you continue following the laws, or do you stoop down to your enemy’s level? Is the victory worth besmirching your honor?

The other two novels feature magic and spells, but The Trials of Empire dives even farther into the “medieval horror” category. My nose wrinkled, and I shook my head in disgust at some of Swan’s depictions. But when faced with a great evil, should that be surprising? I skimmed a few other reviews of The Trials of Empire while writing my own, and let me agree with others. “The Empire of the Wolf” trilogy is by far one of the best fantasy series I have ever read. It is so developed. So compelling. And even with so much magic, it feels so real. Swan makes the reader think, presenting concepts that make readers contemplate their own viewpoints.

Good heavens, The Trials of Empire by Richard Swan offers everything I could’ve hoped for to conclude this trilogy. I loved it coming from Helena’s view, who was a supporting character to the overall drama rather than a main one. I underlined numerous sentences and quotes in this trilogy to contemplate at a later date. Words fail to express my sheer admiration for this series.

Give me more, Richard Swan. As soon as possible. I’ll be waiting.

(One note: The language is foul, so don’t read any of these books if you’re easily offended by the f-bomb.)