The Tyranny of Faith – Richard Swan

The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan
Also by this author: The Justice of Kings, The Trials of Empire
Published by Orbit on February 14, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
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From a major new debut author in epic fantasy comes the second book in a trilogy where action, intrigue, and magic collide. Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice, who is a detective, judge, and executioner all in one.
A Justice’s work is never done.    The Battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but the war for the Empire’s future has just begun. Concerned by rumous that the Magistratum’s authority is waning, Sir Konrad Vonvalt returns to Sova to find the capital city gripped by intrigue and whispers of rebellion. In the Senate, patricians speak openly against the Emperor, while fanatics preach holy vengeance on the streets.     Yet facing down these threats to the throne will have to wait, for the Emperor’s grandson has been kidnapped - and Vonvalt is charged with rescuing the missing prince. His quest will lead him – and his allies Helena, Bressinger and Sir Radomir – to the southern frontier, where they will once again face the puritanical fury of Bartholomew Claver and his templar knights – and a dark power far more terrifying than they could have imagined.  
"Richard Swan's sophisticated take on the fantasy genre will leave readers hungry for more." – Sebastien de Castell on The Justice of Kings
“A fantastic debut.” – Peter McLean on The Justice of Kings 

Also by Richard Swan:
The Empire of the WolfThe Justice of Kings

Richard Swan does it again. The Tyranny of Faith is in one word, mystifying. Each page introduces a new trial for Helena and company. New questions to answer. New moral dilemmas that often lack clear answers. Helena comes face to face with the true nature of justice: Never is it black and white. What may be just for one person may not apply to the masses. The concept of “good for all” is nothing but a fairy tale. What I have come to adore about Richard Swan is how he presents moral questions not only in characters’ conversations but in actions. Often, a sequel fails to compare to its predecessor, but The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan is an exception to the rule. I do not know how he does it, but Swan’s novels exemplify epic fantasy at its absolute finest.

I read many books between The Tyranny of Faith and its prequel, The Justice of Kings. If I had not read Swan’s plot summary on his website for the latter (here–obviously major spoilers if you haven’t read the first book), I probably would have been rather lost.  The Tyranny of Faith picks up where the first novel left off. Sometimes when you read a novel, the author provides some flashback snippets or descriptive references to past events. A reader’s memory lapses hardly matter, as the writer fills in the blanks. Not the case with Swan’s The Tyranny of Faith. The two novels could almost be one book with how seamlessly Swan moves from one to the other. When I did not think Swan could pull me in further, he did.

The Tyranny of Faith is filled political tensions and character development. I typically want action in my books, and while Swan does have it in The Tyranny of Faith, the action is purposeful. It builds up the plot rather than servicing as filler. Instead of action, Swan focuses on conversations. He presents challenging concepts to his characters and readers both. Fantasy novels do not often leave me questioning my own moral views, but this novel did. I never thought I would learn from a fantasy novel, but I did. Swan presents concepts in such unique ways that I could not help but contemplate them days after I finished the novel.

Furthermore, The Tyranny of Faith is darker than the first and features far more magic. As the stakes rise, so does the language. But with Swan’s morally gray characters, it should hardly come as a surprise, and it bothered me little. Overall, the novel was still clean. Still kept me up at night. Still had me holding my breath, even during the book’s slower sections. The Tyranny of Faith is not a fast read, nor should it be. If you rush through this one, you will miss how riveting this novel truly is.

The wait for the trilogy’s conclusion may kill me, as I desperately want to know how Richard Swan wraps everything up. Because how it stands right now, I do not know how he could manage it. If I have indeed died of waiting, someone please leave a copy of the third book on my tombstone so I can read it from the grave.