Traitor's Blade (Greatcoats #1)
by Sebastien de Castell
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
2014 Joe Fletcher Books
Softcover Edition; 384 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
Falcio is the first
Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of
Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law.
They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the
Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.
Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at
the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are
scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in
All they have left are the promises they made to King
Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of
fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or
they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…
Traitor's Blade is the first book in the Greatcoats series, a planned series of four books and several novellas, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I don't think I've ever used the word 'swashbuckling' to describe a novel before, but I couldn't get my mind off The Pirates of the Caribbean' and 'Les Trois Mousquetaires" while reading this and that word came up over and over again, 'swashbuckling" fun. Exuberant also came to mind as well as adventurous, but they didn't seem to do justice to a novel that was just plain enjoyable fun.
The three main characters, Falcio, Kest, and Brasti, are three Greatcoats who lost their positions when their King was murdered several years ago. Left to travel the world on a great quest set by their king, they tended to find themselves in quite a few predicaments. I really enjoyed the banter between them, the type of banter that develops amonst people who have known and worked together under duress for a very long time and who have dealt with a lot of really difficult situations. That they care for each other and admire each other's talents and skills is never under doubt, and that they trust each other is unquestionable. We learn more about Falcio than the others only because we spend more time with him and because he is the narrator of the story. A smooth talker by nature, Falcio is quite interesting as a character due to his unpredictability. Fierce, strong, and loyal (he kind of reminds you of Strider / Aragorn of Lord of the Rings), one who can sweet-talk the birds out of the trees, and then the next thing you know he was in the middle of a fight and you didn't even see it coming. There was also a dark side to him that you learn about throughout the novel.
I really enjoyed the plot as there was a lot going on; it was very fast-paced with a lot of problems for the characters to deal with, and constant obstacles thrown in their direction. Just when I thought I had things figured out, something else would come along and I would have to change my thinking or I would forget about some tiny little detail that would become important later on. The medieval-like world with a touch of fantasy was interesting, and there were certainly the traditional fantasy elements included such as the quests, the magic, the gods, the creatures such as the fey horses.
Traitor's Blade was fun to read and I enjoyed it a lot. There were many of the usual elements of fantasy in it set in a medieval-like world, but to say the novel was light would do it a disservice; there were many moments that touched on the darkness of the world, and in people's hearts, and the underlying issues in Falcio's world, the evildoing of the Dukes. I thought the author did a great job showing the reader the true issues in Falcio's world, like a cake with beautiful icing, but the core is rotten and everything will slowly fall inwards unless something is done. If you are looking for some good entertainment, then you will definitely enjoy this novel as Falcio and company definitely provide that, but don't overlook the grim overtones that shadow this novel, and the heavier themes that lie under the surface. I can't wait to read Knight's Shadow, the next book in this series which releases March 5th.