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The Tyranny of Faith

THE TYRANNY OF FAITH by Richard Swan from @orbitbooks #BookReview #Fantasy


Orbit. h/b. £18.99.

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.

The front cover of The Tyranny of Faith. There is a person standing in front of a large statue of a golden bat. The person is in armor and is holding a sword, point down by their feet.

Helena Sedanka still journeys with Justice Vonvalt as his apprentice and serves him without question, even as he leads their small party out of the way to consult another healer for the strange ailment that plagues him, body and mind. Perhaps this one will help her master, she hopes. Then again, with the appearance of a single rook, it would appear unlikely.

After events at Galen’s Vale and the rebellion Vonvalt managed to crush, it is time to return to the Magistratum and the Emperor. The capital, Sova, is like nothing Helena has known. Oppressively large and noisy. Crammed uncomfortably with people yet also home to such treasures as the awesome Imperial Palace and the tallest temple ever created, ancient magics used in the construction of both.

After two years on the road, Vonvalt’s return to his master will hand him heavier burdens than those already afflicting him. Helena will need Dubine’s strength and Sir Radomir’s harsh encouragement as she is forced to dive deeper than she ever wanted into the strange and terrible powers of Vonvalt’s necromancy. With betrayal at every turn, her journey is going to become harder than ever.

The Tyranny of Faith continues Helena’s memoirs as she journeys with Vonvalt, his taskman and the sheriff we came to know so well in book one. Patria Claver provides the antagonist, a darkly destructive presence that often remains tantalisingly out of Vonvalt’s reach and threatens the very core of the Sovan Empire. The story explores the truths and follies of faith and power, and forces Helena to confront the consequences of choice and, at times, her lack of it.  

As in the previous book, the success is predominantly a result of Swan’s luxuriously descriptive prose, which captivates every sense. The narrative is peppered with unexpected delights at just the right moments to lighten the mood and offer that little hope that our heroes will triumph over evil, for this is a story of good versus evil on an epic scale. The worldbuilding is satisfyingly immersive, and the magic system continues its reveal to step up the tension. The concluding part of this Empire of the Wolf trilogy cannot come soon enough.

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