Traitor's Blade

Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell, Greatcoats #1

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…

  
I am going to be honest, I wanted to read Traitor's Blade solely on the cover at first, yes I know never judge a book by its cover but come on, look at it! It must stand for something! Only after having read the synopsis I knew this book was made for me. I read some pretty strong fantasy debuts last year and I think it is hard to break through and start making a name for yourself, well in my opinion Sebastien de Castell does a pretty amazing job, his debut is one of the betters that I have read. It's hard to really make something new in the epic/ sword and sorcery fantasy but this is exactly what Sebastien de Castell does in Traitor's Blade. Definitely a book and author to add to your must read list.

From the beginning of the book Sebastien de Castell manages to put the setting right. In the introduction of the story you get acquainted with Falcio val Mond. You learn quite soon that the existance of the once magnificent, famous and slightly feared Greatcoats is forfeit, instead they have become infamous and despised and frowned upon. The King that called the Greatcoats back into action is dead, and the Dukes with their own guardsmen now rules the country. It is mentioned that the Greatcoats have brought this downfall upon themselves. But there is more to the passerby's story, to be sure! Falcio and his friends Kest and Brasti make up the last 3 well known Greatcoats but have a hard time getting by. When the death was imminent of the King, he tasked each Greatcoat with a specific task/job to carry out after his death. Falco still feels obliged to complete the task that was set out for him and does everything to get that little bitter closer. But with money running low they have to resort to different means and the three join up with a caravan that travels more or less towards the location that they need to go, however getting onto a caravan as hired guards proofs to be much more difficult than just boasting with your Greatcoat title... finally getting accepted on the caravan proofs to be far the least hurdle they have to overcome and now that they are travelling, their story only kick off. In the right direction. Falco, Kest and Brasti have to face a lot of problems along the way, quarrels amongst themselves, brigands, assassins and magic!

Falcio really made the whole story come together for me, he is a Quantor of the Greatcoats, that means one of the leaders and from the three that you follow he is the most determined one. Added to this is the fact that the story is being told from his perspective in the first person. You get to feel, life and breath everything that he does and think, and by his strong conviction that the Greatcoats have to live their life by the standards and rules that have been set in the past might make him come over as a pretty bossy and strict kind off guy, but this is actually far from it. He one several occasions questions himself whether he is on the right track of life and sometimes even doesn't if he is going in the right direction for his goals. But he is a determined guy to say the least. A first person narration can be a tricky thing as it can put the focus on one character only, that of who the story is being told from, on a sporadic occasion it might seem this way but over the vast majority, as a reader you get the full gist and quite a handful of details regarding the past and the current events and surrounding. In here it is again owed to the fact that Falcio isn't a rookie Greatcoat but he is in his early thirties, he has gone through harsh things in his life, lost his wife and his home and you can definitely see that these past events have shaped and changed him in the Falcio you read about. Also Falcio was the right hand man of the King and has gained a lot of knowledge by this as well that, this information is cleverly laid out in flashback by Sebastien de Castell all through out the story of Traitor's Blade. Falcio's character is a bit static over the course of the first part of the book, this was for me more owed to the fact of the build up of the story and wasn't perse bad at all because only later on when you have gotten into the character of Falcio and he desperately tries to protect a young girl, Falcio's character starts to develop immediately for the better!

As for the secondary characters, you have the brothers of Falcio: Kest and Brasti, they are his childhood friend and fellow Greatcoats, Kest is a master of the blade and not one to easily best in a swordfight and Brasti is one to be feared with bow and arrow. Though you don't have the story being told from their perspectives it through the special bond that Falcio has with them that you get to learn much about their pasts and their current actions. Now one character that I was very, very pleased to read about was the Tailor. Yes a tailor. But far from an ordinary one. She is the one that crafted the magnificent Greatcoats that Falcio and his friends wear. The Tailor also knows where every thread runs to and from... yes! I had to think of the Oracle from the Matrix a bit but this is much better especially when you see her popping up round and about all throughout the story that even the lead character have something like "What the heck is going on here?! How is that possible?" All combined is was very pleased with the characterization of the different types of characters, you have the bold and the brash types but also the more softer types and even though Traitor's Blade is marketed as a high swashbuckling adventure the character have much more working in their advantage than just fighting, they are well developed and were for me easy to connect with and even feel for when they encounter yet another hardship, when they just want to get their lives back.

Traitor's Blade has a lot of very cool idea's. First off is the concept of the Greatcoat, the once elite fighting garde of the King. When you would compare them with your normal knights, Greatcoats don't wear any armor, except a heavy woven, impenetrable bloodred cloak with a lot of hidden pockets to hide throwing knife and other useful things that you might require in battle. Greatcoats also prefer to battle it out one-on-one in a dual and their favourite weapon is the rapier, some Greatcoats like Falcio have a lot of experience and fight dual wield (another yes when the action hits the page!!). All this leads up to an unavoidable comparison to the Musketeers and perhaps it might drawn some influences for them it's nonetheless pretty awesome to read about it! Another idea in Traitor's Blade is the magic that gets briefly mentioned early on in the book but stays very obscure all along the way, it really got me hooked and interested to learn more about it, I am a sucker for a cool magic system in a book and hope to see Sebastien de Castell explore this in more detail as the series progresses. And the last bit I want to mention, just upfront I read the ARC of the book so I don't know what the finished bookpage will be, but page 388 BAM! yes it put a smile on my face and almost went shouting out loud YESYESYES. Wait till you get to that part! Well done! I like such a moves, especially considering this is a debut, such a confident move should promise a lot for the continuation of the the Greatcoats series. These are just a handful of the idea's that Sebastien de Castell lively bring to mention in Traitor's Blade there are just too many to all mention but they are all similarly great to read about. 

The story ends on a completely different note than I had thought, Sebastien de Castell neatly manages to transform his plot by a few clever twists and turns and will make up for a great start of the sequel. I have high hopes for the rest of this series! 

Traitor's Blade is just to put is simple: a terrific read. I enjoyed reading it very, very much. Sebastien de Castell directly places himself upfront to many of my favorite authors. What makes Traitor's Blade a solid read for me was the combination of the narration and the main protagonist. Falcio is well developed character, he isn't a rookie but has gone through a lot of rough patches in life and you can really see this in his character. He is seeking redemption but life isn't working in his favor at the moment. Added to this is the more original setting of the rapier fighting and slicing musketeers, I haven't encountered it in such a dose in fantasy as far as I can remember so it was great to read about it. Sebastien De Castell makes this theme work wonders, I forgot to mention the delicate and well written swordfights that feature in Traitor's Blade, they are a bit like a fencing match, plan plan plan snap and it's over. They are what you want to read in a downright, no dragging going on about but not to short just perfect. So yes, I absolutely loved reading Traitor's Blade, get reading guys! You can already pick up the ecopy, and if you don't have an ereader be sure to pre-order so you can read it asap. must read!

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