Traitor’s Blade – Greatcoats #1 – Sebastien de Castell
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…
If you’re somewhat involved and interested in the whole SFF community, you’ll have seen this name pop up a lot lately. Join the Greatcoats! A sentence that has taken over twitter since last month. Just like many others I was immediately interested in what all that fuss was about. When the ARC package arrived with Traitor’s Blade in there, I almost squeed. I don’t normally squee. The ARC package was also very original, with a letter included that summoned me to join the Greatcoats. Like many of you I also composed my very own Greatcoat name. St Josephine Wimme, yup!
So was it all worth it? Was all the fuss justified? Hell yes, it was! From the very first page the reader gets immersed in a brilliant writing style, full of humor and so fluent that the pages seem to fly by without even noticing it.
The way this story was told was so much fun to read, very refreshing. We follow Falcio Val Mond, a Greatcoat who used to be a travelling Magister for the King. But since the King was murder by the Dukes, he and his fellow Greatcoats are now branded as traitors, tattercloaks and tratarri, loved by no one and feared by many. Together with his two comrades, Kest and Brasti, two other Greatcoats, he’s absolutely determined to fulfill the last request his beloved King made him and find the King’s Charoites, which he thinks is some kind of jewel. If Falcio’s one thing, it’s that he’s fiercely loyal to his King, even beyond the grave.
But after five years of searching and not finding anything, the three friends are required to work as some sort of bodyguards for merchants to protect them on their journey from city to city. But then they find their employer dead in his bedroom after meeting with a prostitute. Even worse, they are being implicated in the murder.
Falcio, Kest and Brasti have to flee yet again and end up with another caravaner, their ideal way out of the city. Unfortunately they don’t know then that their new employer is someone that is contrary to all they have worked and lived for.
Woven in between the events in the present we get glimpses of Falcio’s past, from when he was a little boy and heard the word “Greatcoats” for the first time, ‘till the event that changed his life and how he got to serve the new King and become a Greatcoat. These flashbacks are always perfectly incorporated in the story, by which I mean that every time the story in the present works towards the flashbacks: Falcio telling an anecdote, Falcio thinking about something that reminds him of the past, … It never seems as if the story is divided between flashbacks and the present, it all comes together smoothly in one beautiful whole.
De Castell throws some exciting surprises our way in the last part of the book that turns the whole story upside down. The ending is full of exhilirating battles, brushes with the other side and revelations that will leave you wanting more.
Though it seems that de Castell used all the classic elements of a High Fantasy book, it doesn’t read as such at all. In between all the new High Fantasy tales that have hit shelves lately and that are many times a chewed over version of some previous book, de Castell’s ‘Traitor’s Blade’ shines and sparkles as a supernova among the common stars. Funny, witty, full of action and packed with great storylines, ‘Traitor’s Blade’ is a fantastic debut.
Sebastien De Castell has firmly planted his name on my radar as one of the best debut Fantasy authors this year, and the year has just begun! I enjoyed Traitor’s Blade immensely and can’t wait for the next book and whatever the author comes up with in the future. Certainly a book that I highly recommend, to anyone!