Book Review: Knight's Shadow

Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell, Greatcoats #2

Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats – legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom – have been branded as traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to a different mission.

Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King’s final task: he has found his Charoites – well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the Daishini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes who are determined to hold on to their fractured Kingdoms, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio.

That’s not even mentioning the Greatcoat’s Lament…


Last year Jo Fletcher published a very highly anticipated debut for many book bloggers and me: Traitor's Blade by Sebatien de Castell. This book was awesome, the synopsis sounded great and in reality it all was even much much better. Sebastien de Castell laid the foundation of a very interesting and dynamic world with some very memorable characters. It was high on some very bold idea's that all came to fruition during the whole book. Traitor's Blade ended in away that I hadn't dared to anticipated but left a of pressure on Sebastien de Castell's shoulders for the sequel... No worries there though as Knight's Shadow is well. it is what I said on twitter. Don't have found the right words yet but wow. It will blow you away. 

The story of Knight's Shadow picks up directly after the events of Traitor's Blade, which introduced us to the last remaining and acting Greatcoats, Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats and King's Heart and his friends Kest and Brasti who are also Greatcoats. King Paelis who first called the Greatcoats into action to serve as his own personal magistrates was killed by the Dukes, they killed him and put his head on a pike. Every Greatcoat was tasked with a specific mission, that of Falcio was to finds something special. Well he did it in the end, and found himself in much more trouble than he could have thought of from the beginning. In the end of the first book we were also introduced to the Tailor a mysterious person, the Tailor made the special coats that the greatcoats wear. But the Tailor has more in store. She has plans to completely overthrow the Dukes. 

Falcio still being the Greatcoat he is and serving his task, is no exception in the plans of the Tailor. He and his friends Brasti and Kest are send on very specific missions by the Tailor to further their cause. This is far easier said then done, as Falcio and his friend travel through the world you come to see just how rotten the world has become, especially towards the Tattercloacks, the Trattari, these are curse names for the once magnificent Greatcloacks. The world now is ruled by Dukes and by their Knights. The beginning of the story of Knight's Shadow feels somewhat different than the first book, granted it is a sequel, but where Falcio and his friends were more or less scouring the wastes in the first book looking for clues, they now a burning with a urge to set things right once and for all. They finally have a sense of direction. When they are on the road they encounter a lot of problems and mainly so in the form of Knights. The action in the first half of the book is very intense and lends itself directly for some translations to the big screen. I do have to be honest that for me this was a bit to much, it felt that after the introduction of where the story stood, it was more moving from fighting scene to fighting scene but luckily that changed when Sebastien de Castell dropped to interesting hints and leads and followed them up brilliantly. Because good fantasy wouldn't be good fantasy if there weren't some "door-slamming-in-your-face" plot twists in their. I have to be very cryptic here, sorry guys but you will hate me when I tell things like who the Tailor really is and what her goal is or who actually killed a specific Duke and his family. You will have to find that out for yourself. But what I can say is that the ending is just good, it's grande and put a BIG BIG grin on my face. The part of the Greatcoats Lament with Falcio, the part of Darriana in the end and lets not forget Brasti and his Bastards as well as adding Insult to injury, good stuff, ow wait and I haven't even mention Kest and his struggle of fully becoming the Saint of Swords, both a curse and a blessing that he got by defeating the previous one, Caveil.
 

The story itself is 600 pages long and what I described above doesn't come near to do justice to the whole, Sebastien de Castell has really, really outdone himself with the story of Knight's Shadow. People always say that writing a sequel is hard, well Sebatien de Castell steamrolled right over it. 

As for the characters of the story, you have the once from the first book, Falcio, Brasti and Kest who make a main appearance. The story itself is told from Falcio's prespective, how he sees everything. In my review of Traitor's Blade I mentioned that he makes up a very good and clear perspective, he isn't a rookie soldier who has to elarn the fine ropes of everything but he is a seasoned Greatcoat and knows his weapons, fighting stances and other tactics. So basically you have a very wise and controlled narration. There is a gradual shift though in the way that Falcio tells his story. He is heavily afflicted by the neatha poison in his body, there is no cure and he is going to die. This changed his way of thinking to more of a less caring one, he won't see it anyway. BUT then, when you read this he does know that he isn't fighting for himself but for the future of Tristia, so on the otherhand it is quite complex. Again I loves that Sebatian de Castell used Falcio as the point of narration, every element of the story only resonates so much stronger this way. Now for Kest and Brasti they are the perfect additions to Falcio's team. The three of them are different, they have different skills, Kest is the best swordman, Brasti is the best bowmen and Falcio is the natural born leader. Next to these skills they also have different personalities that is some ways clash but in others fully build on each other. And when the going get though, they wouldn't want to wish any different companions. Now there is a very interesting addition to the character cast. That of the earlier mentioned Darriana, who first joins up as an assassin. (I will stop here, but thing of what I said in that sentence). Darriana is a very complex character and all thoughout the series I wanted to slap her and ask the truth. I already said the ending will amaze you and I was actually saying to myself what... what... what... and it is completely how such things happen. 

The setting of the book is just as with Traitor's Blade but in my sense just a tad darker as Sebastien de Castell delves deeper into the history of the world and some current events take place in dark cellers, also the Greatcoats Lament doesn't really help to make the mood lighter. It is dark bordering on the popular grimdark, but is it necessary, as after these events you will see the future for Tristia on a much more brighter side, however a lot of work has to be done and not everyone believes in this goal. 

I have to give a hand once again to Sebastien de Castell. What he has shown in Knight's Shadow is just amazing. He has really outdone himself this time. Giving you a action packed book to begin with and slowly playing with you emotions. I already felt connecter with Falcio and his Greatcoats, and when I got the the ending of the book, my emotions were torn. It's powerful stuff that Sebastien de Castell wrote in those few chapters. After these events I do see the ray of sunshine at the end of the tunnel for Tristia and it's new ruler but there is a lot of work to be done. However the title of the third book Tyrant's Throne , sounds rather grim as well... I know I probably will have to wait another year for the third book in the series but if I get such a high quality book once again it is definitely worth the wait. The Greatcoats series with Traitor's Blade and Knight's Shadow should be on every reading list. period.

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