Monday, April 8, 2024

The Trials of Empire by Richard Swan - Book Review

From the publisher: The third novel in Richard Swan's acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy triumphantly concludes 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. 

The Trials of Empire by Richard Swan is the conclusion to the Empire of the Wolf trilogy. It is a very good finale, and a fitting end to the series.

Sir Konrad Vonvolt and his friends are desperate to stop Bartholomew Claver from using the knowledge he has gained, and possibly the demon who is possessing him, from taking over the Empire, let alone the world. To this end, they spend a lot of time trying to convince various groups to put aside their differences, and sometimes extreme hatred, to stop Claver and to save the Empire, or at least what is left.

This was an entertaining book, with very well-drawn characters. It is narrated, as are the first two books in the series, by Konrad's young assistant Helena Sedanka. It is also told as a memoir of sorts, so while Helena's survival is never in doubt, there is a sense of finality and terror that comes through. Other supporting characters are fleshed out very well and add to the depth of the story. However, it is Konrad Vonvalt who is the star. He is generally a good man bent on serving justice, but he is willing to do whatever it takes for that justice to be served.

I enjoyed The Trials of Empire by Richard Swan, as I did the whole series. I would recommend it to fans of fantasy mixed with horror (a little too much horror for my tastes). 

I received a preview copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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