Traitor’s Blade, the first book in Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series, has been on the brink of my awareness for some time. I’ve seen the cover and I’ve heard of the author, but for some reason I just never looked into either this series, or the Spellslinger series, until my friend recently bought a copy herself. So many regrets. Oh so many regrets. I could have read this years ago!
Plot summary for Traitor’s Blade:
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.
Now 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 tatters. 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…
Star Rating for Traitor’s Blade: * * * * * (five stars)
Seriously, I am very, very stingy with five star ratings. It has to be good to earn that stuff from me.
I probably would have picked up Traitor’s Blade a long time ago if I’d paid any attention to the plot. It’s essentially The Three Musketeers (which is one of my favourite classics) with a fantasy spin. The Greatcoats, an elite force dedicated to protecting the King, is disbanded due to the sinister machinations of power-hungry nobles. Three loyal ex-Greatcoats work to protect their monarchy in the name of justice, righteousness and fairness. Sound familiar?
I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, because it works so well. It’s a storyline that I don’t think has become tired in any event, but Sebastien de Castell puts such a fascinating spin on it that I wouldn’t have cared if every single one of them was called Athos. And, to be fair, it’s not like Traitor’s Blade attempts to hide its origins – they’re called Greatcoats, it’s hardly subtle!
Each member of the trio has their own personality, skills and little quirks, and I loved them all. Falco is the smart, tactical person with the troubled past, Kest is legendary with a sword and Brasti is a charming man who never misses a shot. All fantasy staples, yes, but it doesn’t feel like that. They’re all interesting, well-rounded characters, with whom I am more than willing to stick for another three books.
I love reading platonic, interesting friendships in books, and the relationship with these three men is full of bickering, teasing, absolute loyalty and the occasional punch to the face. It’s really well done and I hope it develops throughout the rest of the series.
Traitor’s Blade is written in a sort-of sassy, dry tone that fits perfectly with the characters. It strikes a perfect balance between accessibility and skillful writing. The dialogue is unstilted, the background information is seamlessly interwoven and the plot is just fast-paced enough. There are some dark moments (mostly in flashback-style memories), but on the whole its relatively light.
I actually have nothing negative to say about this book. At all. I’m actually a bit concerned about my mental wellbeing. I really, really loved this – it had everything I could ever want from a fantasy novel.