The Justice of Kings (Orbit, August 23, 2022). Cover by Martina Fackova
These days it’s all about blending genres. Dark fantasy police procedurals (Dan Stout’s The Carter Archives). High fantasy romance (Foz Meadow’s A Strange and Stubborn Endurance). Cthulhu mythos and epic fantasy (Jonathan Mayberry’s Kagen the Damned). If you can imagine it, then trust me, it’s out there.
Some genres go together better than others, though. For my money, the ideal pairing is the tightly plotted murder mystery, blended with the sprawling cast of an ambitious political fantasy. Turns out that perfectly describes Richard Swan’s brand new novel The Justice of Kings, released at the end of August by Orbit. Booklist labels it “Rich and interesting,” and Grimdark Magazine flat out calls it “Brilliant.” Here’s an excerpt from the enthusiastic starred review at Kirkus.
Murder mystery meets grimdark political fantasy in this first of a trilogy.
Sir Konrad Vonvolt is a Justice of the Imperial Magistratum; accompanied by his taskman (a kind of bodyguard, enforcer, and investigator), Dubine Bressinger, and his law clerk, 19-year-old Helena Sedanka, he travels the Sovan Empire, solving, prosecuting, and judging criminal acts. A few decades after a dreadful period of war and conquest, Vonvolt is confident in the strength of the empire, the power of the law, and his magical abilities (necromancy and the Emperor’s Voice, which compels others to speak truth and obey his commands) to enforce his judgments. But all of those are threatened by a rising tide of religious zealotry and a call for a Crusade, both of which act as a cover for a shift in who holds the power in the Empire. As Vonvolt attempts to solve the murder of a noblewoman, the conspiracy of corruption he uncovers threatens everything he knows and loves….
An intriguingly dark (and realistically depressing) deconstruction of a beloved mystery trope.
Read the whole thing here.
The Justice of Kings is the opening novel in a new series, and I’m looking forward to new installments. It was published August 23 by Orbit. It is 433 pages, priced at $17.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Martina Fackova.
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