The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

The basics

Title: The Justice of Kings


Series: Empire of the Wolf #1

- The Justice of Kings (2022)
- The Tyranny of Faith (2023)
- The Trials of Empire (2024)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

The Empire of the Wolf simmers with unrest. Rebels, heretics, and powerful patricians all challenge the power of the Imperial throne. Only the Order of Justices stands in the way of chaos. Sir Konrad Vonvalt is the most feared Justice of all, upholding the law by way of his sharp mind, arcane powers, and skill as a swordsman. At his side stands Helena Sedanka, his talented protégé, orphaned by the wars that forged the Empire. When the pair investigates the murder of a provincial aristocrat, they unearth a conspiracy that stretches to the very top of Imperial society. As the stakes rise and become ever more personal, Vonvalt and Helena must make a Will they abandon the laws they’ve sworn to uphold, in order to protect the Empire?

Here is a spoiler summary of what happened in The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan to help refresh your memory before you read the sequel. If you need help remembering what happened in The Justice of Kings then you’re in the right place.

What happened in The Justice of Kings?

  • Helena Sedanka is a clerk to Sir Konrad Vonvalt, who is one of the Emperor’s Justices. It’s Vonvalt’s job to ensure that the common law is being followed, and it’s Helena’s job to write everything down.
  • Vonvalt has some special powers, including the Emperor’s Voice which allows him to compel people, and also necromancy powers which allow him to speak to the dead.
  • Vonvalt took Helena under his wing after she tried to steal from him in Muldau. Now she and Dubine Bressinger work for Vonvalt and are paid handsomely.
  • The trio are just arriving in a small village called Rill. They heard that someone was practicing Draedism, a pagan religion which is now outlawed in the empire, so Vonvalt wants to shut it down.
  • They speak with the baron, Sir Otmar Frost, who tries to send them on a wild goose chase. Vonvalt knows what’s up, though, and goes into the forest and they find Lady Karol Frost leading a pagan ceremony. There’s a slight kerfuffle, but in the end it seems to work out.
  • Claver, a young Neman priest, tells Vonvalt that the pagans should be burned, but Vonvalt gives them a chance to repent as long as they sign a document to say they’re giving up their pagan religion. Claver is unhappy with this result.
  • Over the next several months, Vonvalt and his companions travel south. They arrive in Galen’s Vale, and are told that Lady Natalija Bauer has been murdered. The sheriff, Sir Radomir, isn’t sure how to solve the crime, so Vonvalt takes over.
  • Helena meets a local boy called Matas. The two quickly become close, and Helena falls in love with Matas. Matas tells Helena she should stay in Galen’s Vale with him.
  • Helena has been having doubts about working for Vonvalt. She finds the job quite mundane most of the time. She also wonders whether she has feelings for Vonvalt.
  • Claver is now working with an aristocrat called Waldemar Westenholtz, the lord of Seaguard. Westenholtz himself is allied with some Imperial senators and knights, and they are all connected with the Neman Church. The Neman Church is unhappy with the Empire because it stripped them of their powers. The Voice and necromancy originally came from the Church.
  • Vonvalt receives a letter from Sir Otmar Frost, who says he is dying and Westenholtz killed everyone in Rill and burned the village down.
  • Vonvalt and Helena head straight to Rill using the Imperial relay, leaving Bressinger behind to continue the investigations into Lady Bauer’s death.
  • Vonvalt arrives in Rill and speaks to Frost’s corpse to learn what happened. The corpse confirms that Westenholtz was behind the massacre. Vonvalt and Helena travel to Seaguard to confront the man.
  • While speaking to Westenholtz, they find that the Voice has no effect on him. This usually requires a lot of training to achieve.
  • Vonvalt and Helena leave Seaguard to travel back to Galen’s Vale. Vonvalt dispatches an indictment accusing Westenholtz of murder.
  • While the others were gone, Sir Radomir and Bressinger have been making progress. They find in the local accounts that money has been being regularly diverted to a local kloster. The same kloster which Lord Bauer’s daughter is residing in. Sus.
  • The group talk and they think Sanja Bauer is being held hostage in the kloster and that Lord Bauer is being forced to send bribes.
  • Helena and Matas spend the night together.
  • Vonvalt hears that Claver is currently heading south with a hundreds of Templar initiates, probably mostly from Seaguard. Vonvalt and Helena travel to intercept Claver, and Vonvalt publicly accuses the priest of murdering everyone in Rill.
  • Vonvalt executes one of Claver’s men, which angers Claver. Vonvalt is about to arrest him when he is interrupted by Justice August, who tells Vonvalt not to do anything stupid.
  • Vonvalt, August, and Helena head to a nearby tavern. August warns Vonvalt that there are many forces at play here, and to be careful. Vonvalt ignores her warnings as he has full belief in the Empire’s might.
  • Vonvalt and Helena return to the Vale again. They have the Bauer boy’s bones excavated, and find that he died from a blow to the head – not pox as his father claimed.
  • Vonvalt plans to interrogate the town’s bookkeeper, Graves, but the duo are ambushed by watchmen. Helena is knocked out.
  • Helena wakes up with a horrible head wound and probably concussion. She is initially kept awake so that she die in her sleep, but eventually she is allowed to fall into a slumber.
  • Bressinger catches up with Graves and brings him to the infirmary. Bressinger had to fatally wound Graves to save his own life. Graves dies, and Vonvalt uses his necromancy powers to speak with him.
  • The Trickster, or Aegraxes, possesses Graves and says creepy things about Helena. Helena is dragged into a vision, which shows Lady Frost strangling a two-headed wolf cub, an orchard, and a man tied to a stake. Graves or Aegraxes also tells them they should look into the kloster.
  • Helena agrees to pretend to be running away from Vonvalt in order to gain entry to the kloster. She meets Obenpatria Fischer, who is in charge. She spends some time settling in and not being sus, and then she searches Fischer’s room. She finds letters from Claver thanking him for his donations. This gives her the evidence she needs for Vonvalt to look into the kloster further and make arrests. It also indicates that Claver and the Church are building an army.
  • One of the other girls, Emilia, confides in Helena and tells her there are some bad men in the tunnels beneath the kloster. Helena initially lies about her reason for being there, but quickly gives in. That night, the men come for Helena. Emilia was clearly playing her.
  • Helena is imprisoned in the tunnels. She meets Sanja Bauer, who has been fairly well kept, considering. Helena accidentally lets slip that Lady Bauer is dead and Sanja becomes very upset.
  • Helena meets Zoran Vogt, who is in charge of this whole thing. He’s not very nice.
  • Matas breaks in and tries to save Helena but he is caught. Vogt stabs him. Matas tells Helena where to find the tunnels and escape, so Helena runs back to town to get Sir Radomir.
  • Sir Radomir takes his men into the kloster. Vogt is bound, then escapes, then is bound again. Bressinger arrives to help out.
  • Vogt, Bauer, and Fischer are all arrested for Lady Bauer’s murder and racketeering. They are put on trial.
  • Matas dies in the night from his wounds.
  • Justice August tells Vonvalt that Westenholtz is on his way with an army of hundreds. Vonvalt sends out requests for help.
  • The trial goes ahead, although they barely make it an hour in when Vonvalt receives a letter from Senator Jansen.
  • Vonvalt leaves and meets Jansen, who informs him there’s an army of legionaries led by Baron Hangmar just a couple of days away from Galen’s Vale.
  • The trial continues, but it’s interrupted again. Westenholtz has arrived at the gates with his army.
  • Claver is also there, because the guy is a cockroach.
  • Westenholtz and Claver demand Fischer’s release.
  • Justice August has been trapped in the body of a fox, and Westenholtz kills her mind. Vonvalt takes some time to grieve the loss of his ex-lover.
  • Westenholtz tells the watchmen that he’ll spare them if they open the gate and let them in. The watchmen do so, but quickly realise it’s a trick and Westenholtz’s army is going to kill them all. They try to shut the gate again but it’s too late, and the army swarms in.
  • Bressinger and Helena head to the jail to guard Vogt, Bauer, and Fischer. Some soldiers arrive and chop off Bressinger’s arm. Bressinger passes out.
  • Vonvalt arrives, kills Vogt and Bauer, and interrogates Fischer using the Voice. Fischer passes out.
  • Vonvalt takes Helena and tries to flee, but they bump into Claver. Claver uses ancient magic to levitate Vonvalt into the air. He shouldn’t know how to do this, but someone has given him access to the ancient books, likely Nathaniel Kadlec.
  • Hangmar and Jansen finally arrive with their legionaries. This creates a distraction and Helena flees to the river.
  • Helena is captured by Westenholtz’s men. She kills one of them, but is about to be drowned in the freezing water by the other one when Bressinger arrives and saves her.
  • Claver and Fischer escape and head east to Roundstone in order to travel south. The surviving soldiers from Westenholtz’s army are exectued for their crimes. Westenholtz is hanged, which technically goes against the code, but Vonvalt is past caring.
  • Vonvalt recruits Sir Radomir into his band. Helena decides to stay with Vonvalt for the time being.
  • Vonvalt and his companions travel south towards Sova. Vonvalt needs to find out Kadlec’s part in all this.
  • On the way, they group stops by a town called Ossica. Vonvalt tells Helena to stay in the inn and lock the doors, but Helena doesn’t listen to orders and follows Vonvalt and Sir Radomir to a brothel. There, they find Fischer and incapacitate him. Vonvalt interrogates Fischer and learns that the Magistratum are assisting Claver.
  • Vonvalt kills Fischer, and tells Helena to return to the inn.
  • Vonvalt tells Helena she can leave if she wants, but she decides to follow Vonvalt south.

That’s what happened in The Justice of Kings! Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

Leave a reply