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…
Traitor’s Blade is the debut novel by the immensely talented Sebastien de Castell. Many of my friends are racing through and really enjoying Greatcoats so I decided to jump on the bandwagon to see what all the fuss is about.
The Greatcoats were the King’s elite soldiers simply named after their attire. They acted as magistrates, upheld the King’s law and helped keep peace throughout the land. This was until they stepped aside when a battle loomed and allowed the execution of the King at the hands of the Duke’s. Following this catastrophic event which led to the King’s decapitation and his head placed on a spike, The Greatcoat’s disbanded and are seen now as traitor’s.
We mainly follow three of the remaining Greatcoats through the first-person perspective of their former leader, Falcio. These companions are highly reminiscent of Dumas’s Three Musketeers and each has unequalled martial qualities… arguably the lands best swordsman, the world’s greatest archer, etc… In addition to being dashing, well-dressed and chivalrous, the three companions have very different personalities and their friendship, camaraderie and banter are excellent. Honour and the need to do good is discussed and debated throughout. The world is now a corrupt place and Traitor’s Blade incorporates plenty of scumbags, violence, chaos, deceit, and uncertainty. In particular, there is one scene that could be seen as being very upsetting. For quite a short fantasy volume, this narrative features a large and diverse supporting cast without ever feeling overwhelming and confusing. Notable mentions go to the torturer, Ugh and the young noble lady, Aline.
In similar fashion to many fantasy book debuts, the story and main protagonist are given extra layers using neatly placed flashback sections. These are normally quite short but highlight important occasions in Falcio’s past so that we can fully understand his views and motives in the present. The Greatcoats were assigned a final mission just before the death of the King. Find the charoites. The only issue is that no one has any idea what they are other than that they are incredibly important and valuable.
I honestly have nothing negative to say about Traitor’s Blade. I lapped up the whole book in only two days. It was a fun read but that doesn’t distract from the fact this is a pretty horrific world where honour and total control/harassment seem to have become confused in the eyes of the ruling Duke’s. This is a thrilling and moving debut outing in a superbly crafted yet horrendous fantasy world. The action scenes are great but the greatest asset here is the story’s characters and I cannot wait to read more about Falcio et al and see what adventures they get themselves into in the next three books. Chances are that most people reading this review will be aware of this excellent series as I was late to the buddy reading party but if you haven’t, definitely check it out. A magnificent first book.