“The Justice In Revenge” by Ryan Van Loan: ARC Review

“The problem with this world is we don’t give a shit about how we got here and we don’t care where we’re going. In turn we swallow all the lies the Gods feed us and we exploit the little ones around us without a thought for what types of people they will be when we’re old.”

Synopsis: Buc and Eld have claimed their place on the board of the Kanados Trading Company, intending to use it as a weapon against the corrupt nobility they despise. The role is not without its set of dangers, however, and the pair soon find themselves involved in a deep political plot. Should they succeed in their task, they’ll earn the favor of a powerful patron… and if they fail, they’ll find themselves separated forever. Through it all, a mysterious figure works against them in the shadows…

Who May Enjoy This Book:

  • People who like intrigue
  • Fans of flawed protagonists
  • People who enjoy a bit of romance

Thank-you to Netgalley and Tor/Forge for the advance copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Yes, it’s been a while. I’ll save that discussion for a different post…

Today, I have the pleasure of reviewing Ryan Van Loan’s “The Justice In Revenge”, the sequel to his highly successful “The Sin in The Steel” (you can find my review for that right here). If you’ve read my review of Book 1, you’ll recall that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s no surprise then that its sequel was something I was really looking forward to reading! Given the events of the past couple of years, I definitely needed that boost.

The story spins directly out of the events of book 1, with Buc and Eld holding coveted positions as executives for a powerful trading company. Their exploits are well-known (in Buc’s carefully cultivated recounting of events), and they are acclimating to their new roles… which is to say, they are an enormous pain in the ass for some of the other board members. It’s amusing from the get-go, particularly with Buc’s bottomless well of arrogance. She is a brilliant individual, and it is easy to forget when reading that she is a young girl. Her tendency to underestimate her compatriots in business, these two-legged sharks, seems uncharacteristic, but it is mistake born of her relative inexperience. Van Loan doesn’t ever turn Buc into a Mary Sue, and for that I am thankful. She is a young woman, and despite her many advantages, Buc is still quite vulnerable and a touch naïve about certain things. This is glaringly obvious in the romantic “Austin-esque” subplot throughout the novel. I enjoyed these little touches… while some might find the relationship in question frustrating, I liked it. It speaks truth: romance is not some carefully orchestrated series of events. It is messy, an exhilarating touch-and-go, back-and-forth game of capture the flag, played in the dark, where you’re never certain who your teammates are. Van Loan’s strong characterization remains an integral part of the story, and Buc’s development in this novel demonstrates this. In addition to Buc, however, Van Loan takes the time to meticulously add those neat little touches to his secondary characters too. It’s in their voices, mannerisms, everything. One doesn’t always see this attention to small details, but it goes a long way to fleshing things out.

Similarly to the first book, “Justice” finds the pair stumbling into a political mess which they must extract themselves from in order to appease some very powerful people. In this case though, the rules are different: Buc has acquired some very special…abilities. The presence of “Sin” in her head (you’ll just have to read Book 1…) is a crucial part of the story. It touches every aspect of the book’s events, as well as Buc’s relationships. How does one trust a being, a force, whatever you’d like to call it, that knows every little intimate detail about you? How does one trust such a being, especially if they’re as closed-off as Buc is? These are questions which we are able to explore throughout the course of the story, and the answers are fun. There is certainly the element of an unreliable narrator introduced in this novel, and things can get thoroughly confusing at times (which I am pretty sure was the intention, placing us squarely in Buc’s shoes as she pieces together her fractured memories). It’s an additional mystery for the pile, but a rather good one with a significant payoff later. It’s not always my favorite narrative tool, but Van Loan makes great use of it in “Justice”. Truthfully, I found the reveal of Buc’s memories much more satisfying than that of the book’s primary antagonist… the latter was, at least to me, a bit flat in comparison (it’s still good, just not necessarily what I wanted/expected!). The added mysteries were a good addition, regardless. I found that it complimented the swashbuckling action nicely, and brought the story a bit more in line with the “Sherlockian” promises of book 1.

“The Justice In Revenge” has it all: political intrigue, murder, skullduggery, romantic dalliances, secrets, lies, and revelations. I could go on at length about so many different little touches, but I find it tricky to do so without potentially spoiling any key plot points (of which there are several…). I will say that I didn’t necessarily enjoy this book as much as I did Book 1, but this should in no way dissuade you! I still loved “Justice”… I just happened to enjoy “Sin” more overall. It’s a worthy successor, and the explosive finale left me with many questions and more than a few expletives. That cliffhanger is going to kill me… Anyhow, get yourself a copy of this novel ASAP if you enjoyed “The Sin In The Steel”, and if you haven’t read it yet then what the heck are you waiting for?! “The Justice In Revenge” releases July 13/2021… that’s TOMORROW!

Also, on the off chance Ryan reads this, regarding the ending: HOW DARE YOU?! (You know damn well what I’m referring to).

Happy Reading!

Order “The Justice In Revenge”
Check out Ryan Van Loan on Twitter

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