The island nation of Servenza is a land of flint and steel, sail and gearwork, of gods both Dead and sleeping. It is a society where the wealthy few rule the impoverished many.
Determined to change that, former street-rat Buc, along with Eld, the ex-soldier who has been her partner in crime-solving, have claimed seats on the board of the powerful Kanados Trading Company. Buc plans to destroy the nobility from within—which is much harder than she expected.
Stymied by boardroom politics and dodging mages at every turn, Buc and Eld find a potential patron in the Doga, ruler of Servenza. The deal: by the night of the Masquerade, unmask whoever has been attempting to assassinate the Doga, thereby earning her support in the halls of power. Blow the deadline and she’ll have them deported to opposite ends of the world.
Armed with Eld’s razor-sharp sword and Buc’s even sharper intellect, the dynamic duo hit the streets just as the shadow religious conflict between the Gods begins to break into open warfare. Those closest to Buc and Eld begin turning up with their throats slit amid rumors that a hidden mastermind is behind everything that’s going wrong in Servenza.
Facing wrathful gods, hostile nobles, and a secret enemy bent on revenge, Buc and Eld will need every trick in their arsenal to survive. Luckily, extra blades aren’t the only things Buc has hidden up her sleeves.
The Justice in Revenge is the second installment in Ryan Van Loan’s The Fall of the Gods series, and if you want to know more about book 1 (The Sin in the Steel) you can find my review at this link. Suffice to say, I thought it quite a jaunt and found myself really looking forward to book 2. Now that it is here I can say with confidence: The Justice in Revenge does not disappoint.
“I’m not sure what you’ve done to deserve him, but I can respect Eld. I can respect loyalty.”
In my review of book 1, I spoke at length about Buc and Eld’s relationship as the centerpiece of the story; and, while the plot of this book is very different from the first (will address that in a bit), the fact does not change that the partnership between the two main characters continues to be the cornerstone of what holds this story together. In fact, I would venture to say that connection is even moreso in this book. And it is not enough that they are close and rely on each other, but one of the biggest drivers of the plot is that everyone knows how close these two are. For better or worse, it is well known how much they care for each other, and that comes into play a lot as the story progresses. It is so obvious that I actually found Buc’s actions around Eld to be quite annoying at times. But, it was clear that the awkwardness created was a very purposeful choice on the part of the author. The Justice in Revenge is just as, if not even more, character-driven as The Sin in The Steel, and the biggest value created in writing story in such a way is that is becomes incredibly emotional. When the reader can be so connected to the characters every situation, every action, every decision means that much more. This connection is the biggest reason why I had trouble putting the book down.
“You don’t get it. Neither of you do. I’m aiming for the stars.”
Of course, all things considered, Buc stays in the limelight. She is just so dynamic. Buc has this intrinsic motivation to always push, question, get to the core of things. And she wants to do the right thing, not just for the situation in front of her but for all people everywhere. One aspect that makes this a great second book is how Buc’s drive to change the world has evolved into something so much bigger. She is not afraid to set lofty goals for herself, and her ability to inspire others to follow her into the impossible is exceptional.
“Let me do what I do best.”
“And what’s that?” he asked.
“Find things and stab them.”
Plot-wise, I mentioned earlier it is very different from book 1. The Sin in the Steel had very pirate-y, nautical vibes to it. It was as much a sea adventure as anything. The Justice in Revenge takes place mostly on land, and there is a lot more political maneuvering than there was in the first book. Do not get me wrong, this is not a bad thing; overall, I think it brings more balance to the book. I definitely enjoyed seeing another side of Buc, Eld, et al, going to Board meetings, parliamentary plotting, and deciding what to wear to a ball. Not to mention the seedy back-alley dealings they encounter. Nothing to worry about though, as there is still plenty of stabby stab and other forms of gratuitous violence in the book. I actually felt as though the big, action-y scenes were more suspenseful and with bigger stakes than the first book, as well.
And what can I say about the ending, except it almost perfect (if you have read it, you know why I say “almost”). Most importantly, it does its job and sets up big things for book 3.
The Justice in Revenge is such a great book because it improves upon what worked well the first time around: amazing characters that you cannot help but root for and connect with emotionally. Not to mention a very balanced plot that absolutely brings it when payoff time comes. This book gets a strong read recommendation from me for fans of fantasy. I cannot to see what book 3 brings.