Sword of Justice stars the hero of the Empire, Ludwig Schwarzhelm, in a tale riddled with deception, political intrigue, and chaos. I’ve been on a Warhammer Fantasy kick lately and this book by Chris Wraight has been sitting on my back burner for far too long.
The majority of the setting lies in and around Averland, a place Ludwig is intimately familiar with since childhood. Averland is currently in a state of what I would consider relaxed turmoil. While there is no clear Elector count to rule over the people and wield its runefang, the merchants and the two other opponents vying for power aren’t exactly crying about it as they continue to profit from the current lack of direction.
This brings us to the main point of conflict from which a multitude of problems arise and when I say a multitude, I mean a crapload. Ludwig is tasked by the Emperor Karl Franz to preside over the hearing between the two parties and select the next and rightful Elector ( in as lawful a manner as possible). In the meantime reports of Orcs massing around the outskirts is drawing a lot of attention. Ludwig decides to divides his loyal servants and each is anointed with a vital task. My personal favorite of Ludwig’s tools is the Spy/Counselor Verstohlen and his discovery of the “Joy Root”, along with the fact that he is the most interesting character in the entire book from my perspective.
The initial start to the book felt a tad heavy-handed until around page one-hundred or so and then things really started to heat up. Keep in mind that this is a two part book so Mr. Wraight does have a lot of wiggle room.
Lately I’ve been having a bit of a connection problem with some of the characters in the stories I’ve read, whether it is the side characters I found unmemorable or in this case the big man himself. With Sword of Justice, I absolutely loved Grunwald, Bloch, and Verstohlen. I would actually pay to read more about Verstohlen in a series of collected shorts or something of that nature. Ludwig to me is represented as the perfect, gruff, common man’s soldier, except he is a giant impassible object that can’t be defeated in combat by anyone or anything (as of yet). I think I prefer Verstohlenso much more because he compliments Ludwig perfectly in his ability to maneuver politically without stepping on toes and the his character’s back story flashes have me wanting to read deeper into his origin. I expected Ludwig to have more of a crafty old general side to him and less hot-headedness. As I said before, however, there is book two and plenty of space for character growth.
Near the end of this tale things are getting really, really messed up – especially if you keep waiting on a certain “someone” and their certain powers of chaos to rise up and just wreck havoc across the lands and slaughter everything. Bit of a spoiler – The ending has three major questions left unanswered and I’m dying to get the answers.
Overall I’d give Sword of Justice 7 out of 10 Liams. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great book and I’m completely hooked and rearing to start the next one. But I think I kept trying to compare Mr. Wraight’s book to the Ambassador Chronicles by Graham McNeill and it is an unfair comparison since I haven’t read those in such a long time. The epic conclusion lies with the next book, Sword of Vengeance, and I’ll be getting there shortly.
You can find Chris Wraight Here.