Author: Richard Swan Publisher: Hatchett Books
The idea of right and wrong is a theme throughout all fiction, as well as being the centre of our own lives – it is used to punish those who have committed crimes, used to frame those who are in another way or to give a sense of purpose to someone’s supposed mission in life. However this concept is used, it is a major player within any fantasy writing. Richard Swan takes a different approach and places use in the steps of a man who has been given the task to enforce this sense of justice, following the letter of the law. Giving us the opportunity to follow someone who loves the law and has the determination to see it through. The issue with justice is that there are always those who want to deny it, and seek to be above the law.
Let me start this review by saying that this novel is an absolute page turner! The Justice of Kings reads very much like a crime mystery story but set within a fantasy setting. Starting off with a pair of crimes that have been committed before diving deep into discovering the connections between individuals and what darker players are lying in wait within the shadows. From start to finish this novel dangled the carrot in front of use, always dropping the smallest of information about what could happen next, allowing our minds to wander. Swan dangled this carrot in clever ways; either dropping a clue within the story itself or through the inner thoughts of the POV within the story. The Justice of Kings is told through the memoirs of the main characters Clerk, Helena, whose purpose is to take notes of all the actions done by the Justice. At first I struggled a little because this isn’t explained within the novel, but after 40 pages I became comfortable, especially when the character would begin to hint at how certain decisions impacted the story.
The other aspect that I loved about this novel is how it plays with the relationship between morality and law, at first Justice Vanvalt sticks tightly to the law, with some wriggle room, but as the novel proceeds the story presents different opportunities where morality pushes how the law should be perceived. Swan does a brilliant job in allowing this to be played out through the other character, rather than coming directly from Vanvalt himself. Both Helena and the protagonists within the novel present the opportunities to challenge these ideas.