I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - first book
Sir Konrad Vonvalt is the Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one. As he unravels a web of secrets and lies, Vonvalt discovers a plot that might destroy his order once and for all – and bring down the entire Empire.
As an Emperor’s Justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt always has the last word. His duty is to uphold the law of the empire using whatever tools he has at his disposal: whether it’s his blade, the arcane secrets passed down from Justice to Justice, or his wealth of knowledge of the laws of the empire. But usually his reputation as one of the most revered—and hated—Justices is enough to get most any job done.
When Vonvalt investigates the murder of a noblewoman, he finds his authority being challenged like never before. As the simple case becomes more complex and convoluted, he begins to pull at the threads that unravel a conspiracy that could see an end to all Justices, and a beginning to lawless chaos across the empire.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I loved this debut so much. It is a murder mystery and the start of an epic fantasy about the fall of empire and all the twisty politics and ambition that gets it there.
What starts as the “simple” murder of a noblewoman quickly reveals a vast web of change (for the worse) underfoot. Step by step, their investigation brings them into uncomfortable truths about what’s been happening in the heart of the empire – and to an ending I did not expect to happen.
The fact there was both a murder investigation and a political plot going meant there were two tension factors pulling the book along, and gave me two reasons to keep reading. I wanted to know why she’d been killed, and by who. And I also wanted to know what that priest and his allied Baron were going to do.
It’s rare to encounter a book where the narrator is not the main character, but that is the case here. Helena is an engaging character, with her own worries and tensions, but Vonvalt is the focus. He is the driving force behind the plot’s progression.
However, I think it’s the nature of his arc that means this book is so effective coming from the perspective of another. The emotional centre of the book is his belief in justice and law be challenged by the far-less-perfect world than he wants – or remembers. It’s a corruption arc, and watching it through someone else’s eyes rather than the characters gives it this sense of inevitability and hope at the same time. Helena looks up to him, which makes you feel her hope for it to be OK because he can’t fall, can’t not be the pillar of justice. And makes the ending all the more powerful.
There are so many hints about what will come next, about it being the beginning of the end of the empire, and I am excited for more to come, and to watch Vonvalt play a pivotal role in all that.