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Greatcoats #1

Traitor's Blade

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2014)
With swashbuckling action that recalls Dumas's Three Musketeers, Sebastien de Castell has created a dynamic new fantasy series. In Traitor's Blade, a disgraced swordsman struggles to redeem himself by protecting a young girl caught in the web of a royal conspiracy.

The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that's exactly what's happening.

Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world. A carefully orchestrated series of murders that began with the overthrow of an idealistic young king will end with the death of an orphaned girl and the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to foil the conspiracy, save the girl, and reunite the Greatcoats, they'll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug, and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor's blade.

372 pages, Hardcover

First published February 10, 2014

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About the author

Sebastien de Castell

40 books4,061 followers
Hi Folks!

My tenth novel, WAY OF THE ARGOSI is in stores in around the world.

You can get a pair of free stories here.

The best way to stay up to date is at www.decastell.com, but I'm also on that Facebook thing. Also that Twitter thing. One day I'll even remember to get on that Instagram thing.

As to who I am? Well . . .

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

Sebastien's acclaimed swashbuckling fantasy series, The Greatcoats. was shortlisted for both the 2014 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy. the Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut, the Prix Imaginales for Best Foreign Work, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His YA fantasy series, Spellslinger, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and is published in more than a dozen languages.

Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats. You can reach him at www.decastell.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,535 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 74 books50.5k followers
August 10, 2022
The book has sat on my shelf altogether too long (as many do, sadly) and I was goaded into reading it by a friend who said I would like it. She was not wrong.

I'm giving this 5* since it's a gripping read with genuine emotion and excitement, and solid writing. I have a couple of niggles but they're minor in the grand scheme of things.

Basically this is the three musketeers in a fantasy setting. Well, that's unfair... The Three Musketeers is what springs to mind and gives you the vibe. The characters and plot aren't the same at all.

It's written in first person from the point of view of Falcio, one of our three rapier-wielding servants of the king from an elite military group. The trio get in and out of scrapes while a larger scenario unfolds, interwoven with flashbacks to fill in our hero's past and how the current (dire) situation arose.

As fantasy goes most of the story is very magic-light. There are plenty of fight scenes and de Castell does a good enough job at rapier-porn to convince the ignorant (i.e. me) that he knows what he's talking about ... which he may well do.

There are a number of quite harsh scenes, including some torture, but the mood is often raised by the main character's humour and the banter he has with his two companions.

The scattered musketeers (or Greatcoats as we must call them ... and we're given reason to use the sartorial boast as their coats really are quite great and relevant to the theme/plot) have been sworn to a range of secret tasks by their king and this gives considerable scope for twists and turns plus plenty of mileage for later books. Falcio's task is on the face of it rather nonsensical since he's looking for something and doesn't know what it is. While the task is rather Zen, by the end of the book I still didn't really have a feeling for why his instructions had been so vague ... but again when you mix the threads of fate into the mix and a guiding hand ... I don't have a leg to stand on.

My other niggles really concern the nature of some of Falcio's close shaves where grim and hopeless situations are rather deflated by the 'romantic' (not as in romance) nature of the escape, and by the upsurge in magic toward the end where fate and pre-destiny seem to overwhelm coincidence and logic giving events a rather arbitrary feel.

Oooo! One last niggle! When you cut an arrow in half mid-air with a sword ... it doesn't end up on the ground at your feet. At the very least the front half is going to carry on its merry way and quite possibly kill whoever it was aimed at if they're not too far off.

The take-home message, not to be over-shadowed by my nit-picking, is that this is a great read and you should definitely try it!



[This is my 'stand-in' review from a couple of years earlier.]
A proxy vote here - I do plan to read it, but this is from my wife who picked it up yesterday and finished today.

She liked it a lot. The thing that stopped her giving it 5* was that she felt there were too many quips and that the humour wore thin / got a bit strained after a while.



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Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,373 reviews9,452 followers
December 15, 2019
UPDATE: 99 cents Kindle US 12/15/19

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



This freaking book is on my favorites list and holy crap on a cracker if it didn't give me three panic attacks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me take a moment to get this off my chest. I'm going to do this from time to time in a book!

You damn murderous, evil torture, •sshole, Patriana, I want to bash you into the ground over and over until you seep back into hell!!!!! <-- Just read the book!



Now on to our regularly scheduled review!

I am in love, love, love with Falcio, Brasti and Kest! ❤ The three Greatcoats that won my heart and made me cry so many freaking times. Damn all three of you! <-- Not really. They are so wonderful and good and funny and bad to the bone.

This story is told by Falcio. I'm thinking the other books may be in the others pov's.

"Is there a plan?" Brasti asked, looking at me. "Because if there's a plan, then I'd love to know what it is, and if there's not and I get killed going hand to sword with a bunch of the Duke's men, then I may start to lose respect for you, Falcio."

I did have a plan. It might have sounded like a terrible plan at first hearing, but it really was not as bad as all that . . .

"Sir Knight, before we begin, may I say something? I called out.
"Last words? Remarkably prescient for a dog."
"I just wanted to say that all Dukes are traitors, all Knights are liars, and the road belongs to no one but the caravans."

Captain Lynniac growled, and he and his men charged us.

Brasti said, "Please tell me that wasn't the entire plan?"
"Stop talking," I said, beating the first blade out of the way as they came upon us like a thunderstorm, "and start singing."


Okay, let me try to make this into a review that makes sense because I'm all over the place right now!

Like I said, the story is told through Falcio's point of view and it's not that hard to figure out once you know what's going on. The story is told in the present and some in the past. We get to read about some terrible things that happened in Falcio's past with his wife, Aline. We also get to read about the reason they stood by and let the King be murdered. It's all so horrific and sad and made me cry and just feels people, feels!

Falcio and Kest grew up together and they met Brasti later on.

I have to say I loved so many people and animal in this book. King Paelis, Mattea (the Tailor), little Aline, Monster (the Greathorse), Feltock, Valiana and I think that's all of them. They all play great or minor parts in the book and they have all made me cry from sadness or happiness!

Some stuff happens in the beginning of the book and Brasti, Kest, and Falcio end up working for this caravan that supposedly has a Duchass/Princess riding inside. They are going to meet with some people that end up being jerks.

Some other stuff happens and Falcio is staying in the town with a little girl that loses her family. Her name is Aline and that just puts him over the edge. The others leave him for reasons and he has to keep Aline safe until a certain time of day when she will be safe. Of course everyone tries to kill them but ya know. . .

Little Aline is a force to be reckoned with herself.

Calmly as anything, she pulled the blade out, wiped the blood off on the guard's face, and handed the rapier back to me, hilt first.

"We should run now," Aline said.


I freaking love her. She also aids Falcio in fighting when he needs weapons handed to him fast. She's amaze balls.

I don't want to give out real spoilers or anything but it's sooooooooo hard. This book is so good I can even explain how good and I had many times where I had a great laugh. They are all pretty funny together. Some of the other people are funny too!

If your putting off reading this book then DON'T. You just might find a new favorite like I did. I hope the next books are just as good. I'm worried about things that are going to happen but we shall see.

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Petrik.
655 reviews40k followers
July 9, 2017
This is a BR (which I sucked at) with my beloved Greatcoats: TS, Sarah, Aria, Mary, Celeste, Tweebie

Hope you don’t get bored of hearing this, but there is no other simple way for me to describe Traitor’s Blade, Sebastien de Castell’s debut work and the first book in his Greatcoats quartet, other than that it’s a blend of Alexandre Dumas’s ‘The Three Musketeers’ and Joe Abercrombie’s ‘The First Law’ series.

“The First Law is that men are free, for without the freedom to choose, men cannot serve their heart, and without heart they cannot serve their Gods, their Saints, or their King.”


The plot of the first book can be considered simply as the long prelude or foundation to the rest of the series. The Greatcoats have been disbanded and our main characters, Falcio, Kest and Brasti are now working as a bodyguard, a decline from their previous work as the one who uphold the law of the king before his death despite them still wearing the greatcoats. However, before his death, the king assigned one last mission to the three MC to find his Charoites, which is pretty much unknown to almost everyone and so their search for his Charoites began.

Taking place in the nation of Tristia, the story is strictly told from Falcio’s POV in 1st person with a little bit of a mix to 2nd perspective that made it seem like Falcio is talking to us, the reader resulting in great immersive result. Although the main plot seemed simple, it doesn’t mean that there’s no danger to be found here, there’s plenty of them and the story can be really gripping with its cruelty, despicable villain, injustice, torture and violence despite the light-hearted and fun banter between the three main characters. I flew through this book within two days for its quality as a page turner especially during the second half of the book but the best quality for this debut lies not in its plot, it's in the characters and actions.

"We're going to get a terrible reputation if we just keep travelling across the countryside crying all the time.”


The book in general is all about Falcio, his dark past, his resolution, and his determination to uphold his sense of justice and promise to the late king. This is why there aren’t enough interactions between the Greatcoats overall but every conversations and banter between them are fun to read, providing a sense of strong camaraderie reminiscent of The Three Musketeers. Although Falcio has a lot of exposure to his character, with the story going back and forth between the past and present through his eyes, Kest and Brasti didn’t receive the same treatment, but I’m okay with it since this is still the first book out of four, we have many more opportunities for their characters. Not only the three MC interactions are fun to read, the book consists of intriguing female characters, right from the protagonists to the despicable villain.

Even though this is still the first book in the series, Sebastien has clearly shown how well he understood the art of fencing and archery. Every action sequences featuring Falcio’s fencing/duel or Brasti’s archery were well written with intricacy, showing every movement of the battles step by step and as someone who did a bit of fencing (in middle school) and archery sometimes, it pleased me to show great these actions are. (Brasti's skill as an archer could rivaled Legolas from Lord of the Rings with ease.)

Picture: Falcio val Mond (Traitor’s Blade French cover)



In terms of prose, Sebastien’s prose is very accessible for everyone. It’s simple, easy to read and he knows how to structure his words and sentences to make the story flow easily. I was actually surprised to find out that the book was told in the 1st person narrative, I thought it will be done in 3rd person told through the three MC’s POV but he really made it work. As I said before, this book is quite an excellent page turner during the second half and that's all doable only because of its apt prose.

Sadly, there's two problem I had with the book that bothered me, the Deus ex Machina moments and lack of world-building. I won’t spoil you on what these events are in case you somehow missed it during your read but on my count, there are at least three of these moments. Maybe it will be explained more in the sequels or not I have no idea but for now, I can’t deny the fact that these moments should have more proper explanation other than leaving it the way it is or leaving it for future sequels. Another tiny annoyance I had with the book is that I felt the world-building section needed more exposure, there's still so much we don't know about the Gods, the Saints but then again, this is still the first book and I can look past this one.

In the end, these problems didn’t ruin my overall experience of the book that much; it’s just that the book had more potential to be better by fixing its convenient plot devices and having more world-building sections in my opinion. Traitor’s Blade is still a great, fun and gripping debut which I envisioned will serve as a foundation for the rest of the series. From what I heard, the series only gets so much better with each book and I can’t wait to let myself be enthralled with more stories of the Greatcoats.

"My name is Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, and this was only the first of a great many bad days to come"


You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,153 reviews97.7k followers
June 10, 2017


This was so charming, funny, and whimsical, while still being full of action. This book was just amazing, completely and utterly amazing. Sebastien de Castell has made a fan for life. Traitor's Blade is, so far, the best book I've read in 2016.

“The first rule of the sword is - put the pointy end in the other man.”

This story is surrounding three Greatcoats, who used to be the judge and jury for King Paelis. That is, until he was killed. Yet before his death he forced his Greatcoats to stand down so they could receive pardons and keep their lives. He was a fair and just king, who truly wanted to make the world a better place, but now Tristia is ruled by Dukes and Duchesses who aren't the most morally pure of leaders.

This dueling army of the king's called the Greatcoats was called that for a reason - they all wear long, very protective, special leather coats with boning that can save their lives. Even after the king's death, the Greatcoats still wear these, therefore, they are very easily identifiable and very easily called traitors to the now ruling Dukes.

“Love abandoned me and so I made my deal with Death.”

Falcio, the King's Heart - Our main protagonist, who has let cruel past events shape him into the man he is today. He was Paelis' first Greatcoat and prefers to fight with rapiers.
Kest, the King's Sword - Best swordsman in the world, and was Falcio's best friend growing up.
Brasti, the King's Arrow - Master Archer that never misses a shot, and is the funny playboy of the trio.

These three have traveled together during the five years proceeding King Paelis' death. All the while, they have been in search for the King's Jewels, his Charoite. It's been a rough five years, because everyone dislikes the Greatcoats and views them below dogs (which for the record, I view most dogs above humans, so this isn't a very good analogy). After these three fail a mission to protect their employer, a crazy turn of events make them have to guard a caravan to its final destination.

When the caravan stops at the City of Strife, Rijou, they discover that it is Granath Kalila or The Blood Week. This is basically a purge, where you can kill, steal, and loot, really anything without repercussions. After the event is over, the nineteen noble families come forward to say their name and inform everyone that their bloodline is still safe. As horrible and terrifying as this sounds, when Falcio and the boys enter the city, they see locals setting up to burn a mother and her children alive in a house.

The next day and a broken promise later, there is only one little girl barely alive from the fire. The Duke and all of his men want this little girl, and her bloodline, wiped away completely. Falcio feels like this girl could help them with the King's Jewels, and he feels responsible for her family's death, so he makes a promise to try to protect the little girl, at any cost, during Ganath Kalila so she can say her name and claim her bloodline at the end of the week.

“I don't know how well I can fight, or run, or judge, but when the blade comes, I swear on whatever they want me to swear on, I'll stop it, with my body if nothing else.”

This book is filled with conspiracy theories, actual funny jokes and banter, moral dilemmas that make you think, and some of the best written (main and side) characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This book was everything that I would want from a high fantasy novel, and more so. I have no words for how highly I recommend this book.

If you're still unsure, you can read an excerpt from Tor (here) and, hopefully, fall in love with this world like I did.

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Profile Image for Samantha.
401 reviews16.6k followers
January 5, 2021
3.5 stars - this book was a lot of fun and a start to a series that I have a feeling will get better with each book. It had some weak points, like the mostly mustache twirling villains and the fact that the main character has his own version of "you know nothing Jon Snow", but the non-villains are charming and the set up leaves me with a lot of hope for the potential of the series.

Re-read January 2021: re-read on audio and preferred that
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
516 reviews34.4k followers
June 11, 2020
”Pretend, just for a moment, that you have attained your most deep-seated desire. Not the simple, sensible one you tell your friends about, but the dream that’s so close to your heart that even as a child you hesitated to speak it out loud.”

And so the story begins! When I went into this book I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, but now that I finished it I can say that I really enjoyed the “Traitor’s Blade”. XD This was really good! Maybe it was so good because I went into it blind and had no high expectations or maybe the story was just great. To be entirely honest I think it actually might have been both. *lol*

These days it’s so rare to go into a book without any previous knowledge and usually there are a lot of reviews and updates that tell you enough about the story to know whether you’ll like it or not. Which is good, but it also makes it really hard to discover something new. (Except if you’re the first one to read it because it’s an ARC. *lol*) Anyway! To come straight to the point, this was an amazing surprise and I certainly didn’t expect to like this book so much! XD

”We’ll win,” he replied, “but I’ll get wounded, probably in the back. You’ll get hit by one of the crossbow bolts and likely die. Brasti will almost certainly be killed by one of the pikemen, once they get past the weak defence he puts up with his sword.”
“You’ve been a real joy to work with, Kest, you know that?” Brasti said, shifting his guard.


One thing I loved the most about “Traitor’s Blade” were our three MCs. Sure, they all come with some sort of label, but in the end they are way more than that. For instance Brasti is the pretty lady slayer but amazing with a bow (The King’s Arrow), Kest is the silent serious presence who doesn’t joke but wins every sword duel (The King’s Blade) and Falcio val Mond is their leader who keeps the groups morals high (The King’s Heart) and is more than just good at getting them out of any kind of trouble that might come their way. And to say that a lot of trouble finds them would be one hell of an understatement. ;-P

”The song is swifter than the sword.”

It finds them in form of duels, cunning Dukes AND Duchesses, bandits and highwaymen, torture, as something named The Blood Week (which was a really interesting idea btw!), schemes and quite a few revelations. (One of my favourites was Monster the fae horse btw) Of course there were some things that were kind of hard to understand and they are the only reason why this book only gets four stars from me. Falcio’s encounter with a certain woman during blood week, the Tailor and the ending kind of didn’t add up to the overall story line and left me slightly confused. Then again maybe this will be tackled in the next 3 books? There should be enough time to solve those mysteries, right?

”That’s what being free means – not the right to do whatever you want, but the right to take a stand and say what you’ll die for.”

Another thing I liked was that the story was told in the form of two different timelines. One was the present and the other was the past. There were a lot of flashbacks that gave us some background stories to our heroes and I found myself enjoying those that had King Paelis in them the most. He certainly was one of a kind and I’m still sad that he was killed in such a brutal manner. He would have deserved so much better than what he got in the end and I found myself grieving for him with Falcio.

The king ignored her. “Don’t worry, my strange friend. You had the best of care.” The Tailor snorted but the King went on, “I took care of you myself, with the help of the royal doctors.”
I found that hard to believe. “You took care of me yourself? Washed my wounds and changed my sheets?”


It’s no surprise Falcio still tries to keep up the law and remained an honourable soul. He’s truly the Kings Heart and I’m sure we can expect a lot of things in those next three books. XD Truth be told, I’m also quite curious how Valiana’s and Aline’s characters will develop in those upcoming books. They both have a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what Sebastien de Castell has planned for them. Plus can I have a little bit more of the Tailor’s story? Yes? Thanks! *lol*

”Can I mend them? Can I mend them? Saints alive and dead, Falcio, may all the Gods who never were bless your name and send me a thousand more like you.”

All told this was a great start to a new series and I can’t wait to read the other books! Sebastien de Castell wrote something truly surprising and unique and I found myself enjoying this immensely. I’m an old hand at fantasy tropes, but some of the plot devices that were used in here even managed to surprise me. *lol* I basically paged through this and if this isn’t enough reason to pick up the “Traitor’s Blade” then I really don’t know. ;-P
_______________________________

This book has been on my radar for months and I never really got to it. After choosing to read it in my “Hugs’n’kisses OR Dismissed by the Missus/Messrs” blog meme which I did in January (OMG!! >_<) I decided it’s about time to finally give it a try!

And it does sound good after all!
I mean the mere idea of Greatcoats that seem to be in hiding because of what they did (or rather didn’t in that case) makes for a great plot and I’m always ready for a redemption arc and the fight against suppression. =)

Funnily enough every review I read about this is pretty vague so I actually don’t have any idea what I’m getting myself into. Which is great! You rarely get a chance to discover a book without any previous knowledge these days.

Let’s hope this will be good! *crosses fingers*
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,575 reviews1,463 followers
June 7, 2021
Sale Alert: Kindle daily deal for 7Jun21 $0.99

My fellow fantasy lover and friend Eon (Windrunner) was kind enough to send me a copy of this book. So now it is totally on my short list to read and the day has come

Reading with some friends at Buddies books and baubles on Sept 12

Three Musketeer’s + Magic. I’m totally in.

I’m not really sure what I was expecting but this probably wasn’t it. I was assuming that it would be more like Disney’s version of the Three Musketeers with magic but it is much darker than that. I won’t say that it is quite grimdark but it got close at times.

Most of the story revolves around Falcio. He was the First Cantor of the Greatcoats before they were disbanded and dishonored. Now all of the men and women who made up the elite guard have been blown to the wind and most people would rather see their friends and loved ones die than be protected by the Greatcoats.

I loved Falcio immediately for a few reasons.

1 – He is a man looking for redemption. After being ordered to surrender by his king and seeing his only purpose in life fade into something to be mocked he is working toward finding a way to reclaim it. In the beginning it seems like a hard task. Later it seems practically impossible.

2 – He has a tragic past. If you know me at all you know that I love broken heroes. The most tragic the past and broken the man the better. Falcio definitely falls into this category and with just one small chapter about his past and his wife I loved her too and felt incredibly sad for him.
“Love abandoned me and so I made my deal with Death.”

3 – He is snarky, stubborn and has this core morality that just won’t budge. He’ll kill indiscriminately when needed but he will not resort to thievery because that is beneath what he believes in.

Besides him there are the other musketeers Greatcoats. Kest and Brasti make up the rest trio and I loved the banter and friendship between these men. You can tell from the way they fight together that they have been brothers for a long time. I loved the devotion that each had to the other and the acceptance of difference. I wasn’t sure what exactly to think about both men. Kest almost seemed to have a death wish and Brasti was a bit more interested in women and wine (see totally musketeerlike) but as you get to know more of their stories they become completely interesting. Kest was actually my favorite. He was cocky and confident but it all seemed so sincere so it was hard not to like him.
"Hells, Kest, you yanked a bolt from my leg just a few hours ago and now you want to send me off to fight five men--why don't you go and duel bloody-faced Saint Caviel-whose-blade-cuts-water"
"When the opportunity presents itself, I'll do just that," Kest replied, looking strangely upset.
"You'd fight the Saint of Swords? You really are completely insane, aren't you?"
"A Saint is just a little God, Falcio. If I meet him, rest assured, I'll fight him."

The story clipped along at a good pace for most of the story. The King is dead and the Dukes, all of whom seem completely corrupt have taken over the land. Every single one of them that we meet in the story seems so full of corruption that I hated each one more than the last. Some of the things that they did were completely brutal to the point of making me sick to my stomach. It is all presented in the least graphic way possible. But sometimes that makes it worse, because in my head it is probably more awful.

There was a point where the story lulled a little for me when the trio split up. Falcio ends up in a city that is doing a version of that movie The Purge (which probably came out after this book) but pretty much you can kill and break all the laws for a week. This part dragged a little for me but once it was over we were back into the thick of everything.

Actually if there wasn’t that section in the middle that kinda stalled out I would have given this a solid 5 stars. Between the 3-Musketeers, magic of the world, the twists that happened and the past present storytelling I was thoroughly entertained and ready to see where this haggard group goes from here on out.
“... he had known darkness and despair, and emerged determined to light candles for everyone else.”
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
306 reviews1,306 followers
January 14, 2018
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 last 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.

James
Profile Image for Luna. ✨.
92 reviews1,208 followers
May 18, 2017
I'm done wallowing in my disappointment, full review now up!

3/5

"Sometimes we all have to go a little mad, don't we, Falcio?' I thought about that for a moment. 'And sometimes we have to return to sanity"


I really liked this book! I thought it was funny, well written and I really liked the characters, however I just didn't love it. This was one of my most anticipated series of 2017. So my expectations were through the roof. Unfortunately my expectations were not met. I had a few issues with this book and it definitely prevented me from enjoying it's full potential. This book is a debut novel and for a debut it's incredible. Sebastian is a very talented author & his writing was my favourite part of this book. His fight scenes are amazing & the banter between the characters had me in tears from laughter. The writing is a mix between Scott Lynch & Joe Abercrombie. I normally love basic writing however I felt the writing was abit too basic with this novel. There wasn't enough world building & I didn't know what majority of the characters looked like due to lack of descriptions. BUT the fight scenes definitely were not lacking, this book has some of the best described fights I've ever read. I felt like I was there watching half of the fights.

‘Sure,’ I said. ‘We teach them the first rule of the sword.’
One of the guards, the one closest to Kest, tightened his grip on his pike in preparation for the attack and said jeeringly, ‘And what’s that supposed to be tatter-cloak? Lay down and die like the traitors you are?’
‘No,’ Kest said. ‘The first rule of the sword is–‘ His words were cut off as the guard jabbed his pike with the speed of a metal ball flying from the end of a pistol.
‘– put the pointy end into the other man,’ Kest finished.


The story follows Falcio who is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats, the greatcoats are basically the Kings own judges, trained for battle aswell as politics. The King is killed by one of the Dukes & the Greatcoats are now scattered & marked as traitors 'tatter-cloaks'. The Greatcoats must reunite and bring peace to the nation of Tristia once again. Falcio is an extremely interesting character he has a dark past & he goes into 'berserker mode' so I enjoyed reading from his POV. I can't say much about the other characters because they didn't get enough page space but they seemed equally amazing.

“Gods, man, don't you start now,' I said softly. 'We're going to get a terrible reputation if we just keep travelling across the countryside crying all the time.”


This book started so strong, I loved the start so much. After the greatcoats split up around the middle my interest in the story declined and everything went down hill from there for me. As much as I like Falcio. I didn't enjoy his solo time, I was bored out of my brains. I missed the fuckery so much, so when the crew finally met back up again, my interest was piqued again but that was sort lived due to the ending. There was nothing new or mind blowing, don't get me wrong it had plot twists you never saw coming but even some of them fell flat for me. So my salty old friend it was an okay read for me. The story itself is written in first person narrative, which I normally hate, but I felt it really suited this story, plus it was set in past/present tense so it was more tolerable for me. The writing like I said before is sensational, I love the way Falcio thinks during a fight, adding up the pros & cons of what his next move shall be. I found it super realistic. I JUST LOVED THE WRITING, OKAY?! it was so humorous and filled my tainted little black heart with joy. A few other issues I had with the book, as much as I loved the fight scenes, some of the ones in this book felt kinda random.. For example greatcoats are traveling with caravan, stops for one minutes rest, *hears sound*, bad guys everywhere and a fight breaks out.. Like how many bandits and bad guys are actually just randomly traveling through a huge forest near each other? I personally found it kinda annoying, it just made the story feel abit choppy. Also I don't understand how they would just randomly run into the 'villain' and nothing happened?! Gah, my poor brain, can't handle the mind fuckery. Another thing my brain couldn't handle was that ending.. It was horrible.. Sorry unpopular opinion time but what the actual heck?! I hate when major things happen in the background with no details, like I get the impression the author was in a rush towards the end, so many unanswered questions and it fall flat for me. One more thing, I know, I'm sorry but this is a sword & sorcery book, there's was very little sorcery and I would have liked to have found out more about the magic system, obviously I will in book two but I was just excited about it & got none. This could be considered a minor spoiler there was an act of animal torture that had me gritting my teeth & I may or may not have shed a tear or two. But it did serve a huge purpose in the plot & I'm happy with how the issue was resolved in the story. Honestly this is a great debut novel and I'm sure everyone who reads it will enjoy it. This is a story of friendship, heartbreak, honour, badassery & trust. So a heartwarming nice read.

Looking forward to completing the series and can't wait for it to get 'grimdark'. Recommended to all fantasy lovers over the age of 15, due to the amount of violence and use of my favourite word ever 'cunt'.

Buddy read with my favourites; Big Brother , TS , Sexy leg wifey , Twinnie , the Angel & Ari boo

You can find this review and my other reviews at Booksprens.

P.s if I was a character in this book, i would definitely be the village idiot.
Profile Image for Adina.
781 reviews2,957 followers
October 26, 2021
Traitor’s Blade is the first volume in a fantasy tetralogy written by Sebastien de Castell. I will not repeat the blurb as I believe it dues a decent job to summarize the plot. The ,Three Musketeers, ex-Greatcots Falcio, Kest and Brasti are the main characters in this book and we follow their adventures as bodyguards for hire while also trying to fulfil a secret and vague mission. I found the plot quite simple, starting with the world building, characters and main plot elements. However, the story was still gripping. The main two strong points of this book are the fighting scenes and the banter between the three characters. It was light, fun and I plan to read the next in the series soon enough.

“I rolled my eyes at Kest. We'd heard this lecture many times before, but Trin hadn't, so she stepped right into it."Is it really so hard?" She asked
"My dear, not one man in a hundred can be a proper archer. And not one in ten thousand can become a master."
"And you are one? A master archer, i mean?"
Brasti smiled and contemplated the nails of his right hand. "One might fairly say so, i believe."
"One says so frequently," I observed.”:

Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews913 followers
May 25, 2017
Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars

"Well... if I have to die, at least there is a pretty damn good chance someone will write a song about it."

Honestly, I've been dreading writing this review. That's never a great sign.

But it's because this book didn't make me feel much in the way of anything. I didn't loathe it, but I didn't love it. It just sort of... exists?

I guess the easiest way to review this will be to lay out the pros & cons:

Pros:

✔ The Humor - This book is undoubtedly hilarious! I really enjoyed how often I laughed out loud while reading this. Our main character, Falcio, has tons of comedic dialogue, whether he's scolding himself internally or bantering back & forth with his two best friends.

✔ The Writing - This is really more of a "Neutral" aspect of the novel, but I'll include it as a "Pro" because this is good for a debut & I had no particular gripes about the writing style. It's readable, and Sebastien de Castell does well characterizing Falcio.

Cons:

✘ The Plot - The plot of Traitor's Blade is choppy at best. It jumps around between the past & the present without warning or reason. Every time it switched I felt jolted out the book. There were some really random scenes in this book that I felt were super out of place, which definitely contributed to my lack of enthusiasm.

Neither story line had me incredibly engaged, as I don't think I got enough from either. In fact, I feel as though the story of Falcio's past would've been a wonderful novel on its own. Events unfolded in a way that had each chapter feeling like a separate entity from the book, instead of flowing naturally & adding to the overall scheme.

✘ The Enjoyment - Most of the time my feelings on a book aren't as split down the middle as they are for Traitor's Blade. In this case however, I feel it's necessary to address my enjoyment as a separate category. I can't really say I enjoyed reading this. I didn't dread reading it, but I was steadily more & more relieved as I neared the end. I won't say that this book is objectively bad, because it isn't, but it just didn't do what I needed it to do.

Final Thoughts:

This is a good debut. It's not mind blowing, but it surely cannot be considered "bad" on any level. It's got some redeeming qualities, but it's a little more lighthearted than I like my High Fantasy to be & the immediate plot did not engage me much. There are hints toward a much larger danger, especially toward the end of this novel, that I hope will come into play later on.

At the end of the book I'm left feeling very apathetic. It was a struggle for me to formulate how I felt about this because it just didn't inspire strong feelings either way.

I've seen lots of great reviews for the later books in this series, and so I will definitely give the it another chance!

Buddy read with these awesome folks!
Kainat (my Kavinksy-loving soul mate)
Sarah (aka my gorgeous wife)
Celeste (literal gift from Heaven)
Petrik (the sweetest guy on GR)
Tweebie (my hoverboard sister)
Aria (aka beautiful goddess)
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
403 reviews345 followers
October 30, 2018
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.

There is something very compelling about a good Arthurian legend story – a great quest, if you will, to right wrongs and return the kingdom to good after a period of evil. There’s also a fine line to be walked when you read a story like that – too much grandstanding, and the story begins to ring false. Not enough character development and you are reluctant to cheer for the underdogs. Luckily, Sebastien de Castell hits all the right notes in this first book in his Greatcoats series, as Traitor’s Blade is an incredibly fun swashbuckling adventure with enough twists and turns to keep your eyes glued to the page.


The more historical aspects of the story have also been given the same attention to detail. There’s some lovely nods to medieval narrative that demonstrate how well the author has blended his research with his story. The sword fights are vivid and intense, leaving you on the edge of your seat. When characters are struck down, they are actually hurt, and need time to recover (what a wonderful detail!). That’s not to say that magic doesn’t play a role in the story, but rather that the magic is blended in so well that Fey horses and mages are as acceptable as caravans and Duchesses.

At the end of the day, this is a story of betrayal and redemption, of doing what’s right versus what’s easy, of legacies, of traditions and of justice. There are sword fights that make you catch your breath, game-changing secrets and betrayals that may break your heart, and witty comebacks that will have you laughing out loud in relief. Here’s hoping that the next book isn’t too far in the offing, as these Greatcoats have more stories to share. 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
Profile Image for Markus.
469 reviews1,510 followers
February 7, 2017
"My name is Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, and this was only the first of a great many bad days to come".

Eon, a man of exquisite fantasy tastes, gave me this book about a year ago and awful friend that I am, I haven't read it until now. But better late than never, yes?

The land of Tristia is pretty much a shithole of misery and exploitation. Until a young and idealist king takes the throne and decides to implement law and justice, and creates an order of magisters, Greatcoats, to enforce it. Obviously, it is the sacred duty of the feudal nobility to behead this upstart idiot and disband his order of silly “tatter-cloaks.”

Five years have passed. Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, leads his companions through pathetic protection duties for rich merchants in order to survive in the new world. The Dukes killed his king and shattered his dream. But deep down, Falcio and the Greatcoats have never given up the ideals of justice and noble King Paelis.

Traitor’s Blade is both a typical and a surprisingly good fantasy debut. Typical in the sense that it’s seething with flaws. Surprisingly good in the sense that the suspense and the action makes the reader happily forget said flaws.

The writing style is only adequate, there are plenty of happenings that are just too plain convenient, and neither the world of Tristia nor the characters involved are particularly memorable (yet). But mashed into one package this book is captivating.

Watching the Greatcoats in action is thrilling, particularly against the backdrop of noble intrigue and the machinations of various devious persons. There are a couple of brilliantly executed plot twists, one in particular. And you feel like you’ve barely scratched the surface of Tristia and its people.

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, although of course there were some things I enjoyed more than others. For the reasons mentioned above, both positive and negative, Traitor’s Blade reads more like an introduction to something larger, and as such cannot be properly judged until the sequels have been acquired and read. But I can hardly wait to read them.
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
418 reviews456 followers
April 24, 2017
April 2017 reread before Tyrant's Throne done and it was as sublimely swashbuckling as the first time. -

April 2016 - Third re-read in anticipation of Saint's Blood!
Final verdict - still as pointy as ever! LOVE IT.


-----------------------------------------------

"The first rule of the sword is - put the pointy end in the other man"

Isn't this a wonderful time to be a reader of fantasy?

There are so many new authors delivering fantastic entries into the genre with their debut efforts that I cannot help but be excited for the future.
So grab that pen and write this name down, because Sebastien de Castell has cemented himself as a future star. He has penned
a damn fine swashbuckling fantasy that I will read over and over and over through the years to come and he has managed to make my favourite authors list with his first attempt.

What is that you say? You have not bought this yet???
Send Sebastien de Castell your money right now!!! He has delivered a smart, engaging, laugh-out-loud adventure with sword fights galore (rapiers :D) and witty banter that will leave you wanting to share so many quotes with the person nearest you that you in all likelihood will soon be sitting alone.

Yes, it's true. The well known scientific theory that
brilliantly funny dialogue + fantastic characters + plot involving sword fights = PURE AWESOMENESS is employed to great effect, but the author has done it so skillfully and injected such style that it will feel like you've never seen it before and you will not be able to put this book down until you have read the very last page. And then pre-ordered the next one.

I'm not going to bother outlining the story more than the blurb already has, as it flows at a rip-roaring pace and will be over far too soon for your liking, but I will leave you with a few quotes to wet your appetite.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

‘You know what I find odd?’ Brasti went on.
‘Are you going to stop talking at any point in the near future?’ I asked.
Brasti ignored me. ‘I find it odd that the sound of a nobleman rutting is hardly distinguishable from one being tortured.’
‘Spent a lot of time torturing noblemen, have you?’
‘You know what I mean. It’s all moans and grunts and little squeals, isn’t it? It’s indecent.’
Kest raised an eyebrow. ‘And what does decent rutting sound like?’
Brasti looked up wistfully. ‘More cries of pleasure from the woman, that’s for sure. And more talking. More, “Oh my, Brasti, that’s it, just there! Thou art so stout of heart and of body!”’ He rolled his eyes in disgust. ‘This one sounds like she’s knitting a sweater or cutting meat for dinner.’
‘“Stout of heart and body”? Do women really say that kind of thing in bed?’ Kest asked.
‘Try taking a break from practising alone with your sword all day and bed a woman and you’ll find out.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

‘Punch-pull-slap,’ I said, already dreading it. ‘But make it hard this time, Brasti.’
Kest poured water on the wound, making me whistle through my teeth.
‘Just don’t scream this time,’ Brasti said. ‘We’re trying to avoid being caught.’
While I prayed to Saint Zaghev-who-sings-for-tears to come down just this one time and meet my good friend Brasti, Kest got a firm grip on the shaft and then nodded at Brasti.
The three of us invented ‘punch-pull-slap’ some time ago. One of the things you discover after you’ve been wounded enough times is that the body really only keeps track of one source of pain at a time. So, for example, if your tooth hurts and someone pokes you in the stomach, your body momentarily forgets about the tooth.
So the way this is supposed to work is like this: Brasti punches me in the face, Kest pulls the arrow out of my leg and then Brasti slaps me so hard my brain never has time to register the bolt and therefore I don’t scream at the top of my lungs.
I screamed at the top of my lungs.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Very highly recommended.

PS: There were one or two instances of Deus Ex Machina popping up that bothered me slightly, but nothing that seriously detracted from the story.
Profile Image for Samir.
111 reviews170 followers
November 5, 2017
I was pondering how to rate this and I’ve finally reached the verdict; the first half of the book gets three stars and the second half gets four stars so the actual rating is 3.5 stars.



Still reading? Oh well, I guess I’ll share my thoughts with you if you insist. :)

Traitor’s Blade is a novel which brings us a tale of the Greatcoats or at least what is left of them. They were once the King’s traveling magistrates with a task of upholding his law. When the Dukes of the kingdom Tristia turned against the King and executed him, they were disbanded and branded traitors. Just before his death, the King gave them a secret mission which puts us at the beginning of this book and that is the further I’ll go in revealing the details of the story.

The story revolves around three Greatcoats; their leader, Falcio val Mond, his childhood friend Kest who is also a master swordsman and Brasti, an archer of unequaled and exceptional skill which would rival even Legolas himself.

At the very beginning they are on the job which goes terribly wrong and they find themselves in quite a predicament and the only way out is fighting which leads us to the rules of the sword.

“The first rule of the sword is – put the pointy end into other man.”

And if this doesn’t work out, well, there is always running from trouble, until they stumble into next one and there are plenty of those awaiting our heroes in this adventure.

At this point I should probably stop rambling nonsense and try to explain my rating. The first half of the book was a mixed bag. I was having trouble getting into the story because I wasn’t able to connect with the main trio. Even though their banter was very funny, they seemed kind of flat but things got a lot better in the second half where the focus of the narrative was more on Falcio and we get to know him better through well-placed flashbacks, adding more dynamics to the story, in which we discover his past and his path to becoming the First Cantor of the Greatcoats and forming of the order itself. This really helped me to connect with him and it helped the story by giving it more coherent narrative structure.

I forgot to mention the best thing about this book; it was fun! The banter between the main trio sets the lighter tone and The Three Musketeers vibe was almost palpable; they’re boastful and they’re a perfect depiction of camaraderie.

Quick paced storytelling with a lot of humor and abundance of thrilling action sequences were the highlight of this book. The way the action scenes presented the fight itself but also the inner thoughts of the character in the scene was very entertaining and it reminded me of the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. and the way he calculates his moves and possible outcomes of the fight.

I had some quibbles regarding some things that happened near the end because they felt a bit too convenient but there were also a couple of great twists which set the story for the sequel.

This is a high fantasy novel which doesn’t take itself seriously, very much like The Princess Bride (I’ve only watched the movie, I have yet to read the book – shame on me, ten points from Gryffindor!).

Sebastien de Castell managed to write a highly entertaining and engaging debut which will appeal to the fans of Michael J. Sullivan and I’m looking forward reading the rest of the series starting with the Knight’s Shadow.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
576 reviews780 followers
August 4, 2018
“The First Law is that men are free for without the freedom to choose, men cannot serve their heart, and without heart they cannot serve their Gods, their Saints, or their King.”
King’s Laws


“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1


What a precarious mix of fantastic ideas and far-fetched conveniences this book was. On the level of pure page-turning entertainment, it was all you could ask for. But if you are looking for more than fun in your novels, you will find the Traitor’s Blade wanting.

There are four main elements that make the Traitor’s Blade exceptional: As we follow the story of Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, together with his companions, master swordsman Kest and archery master Brasti, we are immersed in their camaraderie, bonds of friendship and mutual trust, and loyalty stemming from shared ideals. Their banter is priceless. Dialogue lines are sparkling with wry humour and seem effortless, a far cry from a strained comedy script so many fantasy books are prone to these days.

Action scenes are of similar quality. There are many fights, duels, two (or even five) to one encounters with many weapons, settings, and fighting techniques. These are not rehearsed choreographies of martial prowess and give the impressions of authenticity. It is evident that Mr de Castell is into fencing and knows the business of sticking the pointy end of rapier into the opponent. He uses this knowledge well.

Finally, the variety of main and supporting characters is seconded by interesting character development. The book focuses on Falcio and his personal journey from a small fatherless boy to the leader of Greatcoats will not leave a single reader unperturbed. I hope we will learn more of the other two in the coming instalments. Kest’s backstory is merely hinted at, while Brasti remains enigma behind the loverboy facade.

“Ah, you fool. Dying isn’t the sacrifice. Haven’t you figured that out yet? All those years of trying to get yourself killed in battle? That ain’t sacrifice, boy. That’s self-loathing. It’s gleeful suicide. It’s vanity.”

As for the reasons why this book deserves not an inch above the three-star rating, there are two significant flaws: worldbuilding and plot conveniences.

The world we are given is your generic medieval (plus pistols) kingdom with magic, although the magic system is not developed at all. The settings give you a favour of longing for good times ended prematurely by an untimely and dramatic murder of a good king Paelis. Paelis is your typical king-scholar, king-idealist, a good monarch not really fit to live in the harsh times and realities of the land he governed.

“When they take the last good thing from your life, there must be an answer.”

Tristia is a land in theory ruled by a king and his law, in reality, a loose federation of duchies run like private farms by the Dukes and Duchesses of whom each and every single one is a greedy, selfish, and cruel person heedless of the well being and safety of their people. You see the problems? Wait, there is more.

The king sees that the land is weak and decaying and breaking apart because of the injustice of the nobility, but somehow entirely ignores the lack of a strong and unifying political power which his own office should supply. And so, he sets for to solve the conundrum with the mindset of a human rights defender. However, if you’d like to mesh UDHR with the medieval mindset you need to tread carefully lest you want to end up in a world of paradoxes. And there are paradoxes abound.

In contrast to very mature, grimdark content, including rape, torture and other vile deeds, the political design is so improbable and idealistic, that it places the Traitor’s Blade in the YA category. Great monarchs need time to build strong kingdoms, it doesn’t happen overnight and rarely through revolutions. I am sure this wisdom is easily discernible in every history book available so it escapes me how a scholarly man like Paelis, could ignore this simple dogma of sustainable governance.

“The dream doesn’t have to be dead if we keep believing in it.”

There are unexplained plotholes , plot conveniences , plot curiosities of which the main quest of the weirdest and one-dimensional villains (save one) .

In spite of these shortcomings, Traitor's Blade is an enjoyable novel and I have high hopes for the whole series.

Other Greatcoats books:

2. Knight's Shadow ★★★☆☆
3. Saint's Blood ★☆☆☆☆
4. Tyrant's Throne ★☆☆☆☆
Profile Image for Edward.
327 reviews838 followers
August 28, 2021
My brother and I now have a booktube called The Brothers Gwynne. Check it out! The Brothers Gwynne

I will start this off by saying, Sebastien is a top guy, I’ve always loved meeting him at various events and was very much looking forward to reading this first instalment in The Greatcoats.

I was really really hoping I’d like it.

And I LOVED it! Really really loved it.

“When you're fighting a crowd, it's good to shout potentially threatening things like "Crossbows!" or "Fire!" or "Giant Flying Cat!" every once in a while.”

So, Traitor’s Blade is Sebastien de Castell’s first novel and has been immensely popular, for good reason. It is a tale of friendships, duty, trying to do good when everything else is down right evil, and swashbuckling duels. Lots of them. However, this is NOT a kissing book (for any fans of The Princess Bride).

Traitor’s Blade is Book 1 of The Greatcoats series, set in a world of dark deeds and political intrigue. Our main character and PoV is Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of The Greatcoats, all round clever clogs providing lots of wit and some pretty intense rapier duels. The Greatcoats are a fallen band of elite soldiers who’s purpose was to serve the King and promote justice throughout the kingdom. But, the King is dead, the kingdom is run by various Dukes, the Greatcoats disbanded and known as ‘tatter-cloaks’.

“I must have encountered the Duke somewhere on the road because I was carrying a sack with me and his head was in it.”

We follow Falcio, along with his two fellow Greatcoats, Brasti and Kest, as they attempt to carve their way through the depraved kingdom. It starts off at break-neck speed and it really does not hold up. It is such an intensely fast-paced book that you actually feel in a strange way the absolute exhaustion of Falcio as you turn the pages. There are no let-offs for this small band, nothing is easy and they have to employ every single weapon in their arsenal, every trick in their long book. All whilst providing some of the best witty dialogue I have read in fantasy.

The relationship between Falcio, Brasti and Kest is the heart of this story, and is extremely enjoyable. Falcio, the leader and thinker of the group, Brasti the cocky archer and Kest the best sword-fighter in the land. They are a formidable trio. Those who say that these three resemble the Three Musketeers really aren’t mistaken. They have such a natural and fun camaraderie, where they make you laugh, smile and feel their pain as they fight together, argue, and get themselves into as much trouble as possible.

”My dear, not one man in a hundred can be a proper archer. And not one in ten thousand can become a master."
"And you are one? A master archer, i mean?"
Brasti smiled and contemplated the nails of his right hand. "One might fairly say so, i believe."
"One says so frequently," I observed.”


These last Greatcoats are constantly struggling to do the ‘honourable thing’ throughout, at odds with the traitorous world of thugs, knights, and dukes. The range and diversity of secondary characters is well used, with men and women adding to the mix, some that readers will love, others that readers will totally despise.

This story is grim in many ways. There is heightened violence and cruelty, with an environment that is unforgiving and backstabbing. There is one scene that went above and beyond the rest, while I understood why the author used it I still found it uncomfortable. Traitor’s Blade also has some awesome action scenes and set-pieces which gave all of the characters their individual times to shine. There were also scenes that hit hard on the motives and character building front where those with less martial prowess were able to have their moments for the reader.

“The archer is the true weapon; the bow is just a long piece of wood.”

5/5 - Traitor’s Blade is an accomplished and enjoyable read by the witty Sebastien de Castell. Full of fun and action, an intensely quick read that promises to give you characters that you love and hate, with as many twists and turns as a twisty turny thing. Enjoy!

Here is my first review on Grimdark Magazine! Check it out and other great reviews here:
Grimdark Magazine
January 2, 2023
· Everybody Loves this One Oh Bloody Hell I am Doomed but Hey Eon Recommended it So it Can't Be that Bad of Course it Can't Buddy Read (ELtOOBHIaDbHERisiCBtBoCiCBR™) with the BBB Cult ·



💀 DNF at 53%. Yeah yeah yeah, shame on me and all that crap.

Forgive me Father Eon, for I have sinned. Yes, I have failed to grasp the utter greatness and general brilliance of one of your favourite books. Yes, I have once again read a book wrong. I am the lowliest, unworthiest of shrimps. I am so terribly sorry for having offended all the wonderful people who worship/cherish/love/whatever this masterpiece by a) not finishing it and b) giving it half its average rating. I am now fully prepared to atone for my most shameful sins.



I am just so funny sometimes, I crack my little self up. I mean, you do know I'm full of crap and don't mean a single word I said in the previous paragraph, right? Oh, good. So now that we've established I don't give a damn what you Little Barnacles think of my DNFing abilities, let's get on with this Express Super Crappy Non-Review (ESCNR™), shall we? Fear not, my Lovely Decapods, for it won't take long. I just have three things to say here:

① Most of the characters are supposed to be in their early 30s but act like a bunch of YA idiots immature teenagers instead. Oh goody.

② The author killed off the only character I actually liked. Bad, bad karma author.

③ The story feels like a Three Musketeers rip-off, with magic thrown in. And boredom. Yeah, lots of boredom thrown in, too. So cool. So fascinating.

» And the Two-Gif Moral (TGM™) of this ESCNR™ is:





Bye now.

Please feel free to insult me in the comments, You of the Despicable Book Taste (YotDBT™).

You're welcome.
Author 1 book357 followers
May 1, 2017
Traitor's Blade is a fascinating story with witty, humorous and sentimental elements. De Castell's imaginative language, in combination with the extremely fast pacing and unexpected circumstances, provides the story with a cinematic vignette, making the book stand out in the genre.

The characters seemed really flat at first, but as you get to know them better, you get attached really fast, understanding their emotions, supporting their actions, and rooting for their achievements. The world building is simple and the magic is subtle, playing a vital role but not getting in the way of the story. I also loved the seemingly random circumstances, creating unexpected smaller arcs, keeping the fast pacing, and providing momentum for the finale.

“That's what being free means - not the right to do whatever you want, but the right to take a stand and say what you'll die for.”

Of course, there were some negative elements as well. At some points, the story reminded me more of a fairy tale than fantasy (Princess for rescue, Wicked step mother, magical horses etc). Also, all of the secondary characters that were mentioned in the past sequences, suddenly and miraculously appeared on the path of our heroes. Finally, the only thing I was looking forward to, a duel between the supposedly two best swordsmen of the world, I didn't get to see, but only to learn the outcome. These are obviously just minor problems, but still, they affect the whole thing.

All in all, I found the Traitor's Blade a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys high fantasy with a lighter scheme.

You can find more of my reviews over at http://BookNest.eu/
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
711 reviews1,153 followers
April 20, 2018
[3.5/5 stars] This is one of those books that improves as it goes. My initial impression from just the first chapter was not fantastic. The story was told in a very over-the-top sarcastic voice that was almost condescending to the reader. It made me question whether the book would offer enough substance, or if I was in for a whole lot of bolstering and nothing else. Thankfully, about the point I would’ve gotten fed up, it started to tone down and I had just enough interest to keep going.

Then I hit about the halfway point and magic happened. I’m still not sure exactly what changed, but I was shocked to find myself suddenly unwilling to put it down. Who’d have thought a 1 or 2 star beginning would turn into a 4 to 5 star ending? And the second book was even better (RTC on that).

I’ve heard Greatcoats described as an alternate take on the Three Musketeers, and can’t say I disagree with that assessment. It has the same spirit of camaraderie, loyalty, and humor. But it definitely differs in delivery by amping up the sarcasm and humor to just shy of tolerable at times (this definitely relaxes as the story progresses, turning into much-needed comedic relief for some of the more intense scenes). Eventually it finds its balance, but the dynamics between the three Greatcoats was definitely a consistent highlight throughout.

Traitor’s Blade introduced some cool plot ideas I don’t think I’ve seen before, and I really liked how the story developed. It truly surprised me how much I ended up loving the second half of the book. This is one of those rare instances where I’m glad I stuck with it.

Recommendations: Traitor’s Blade had a very Locke Lamora attitude (on crack) that I think will appeal to fantasy readers who like a mix of humor and grit in their books. I think it’s safe to say that the beginning suffers a bit from being overdone, but if you stick with it, the payoff is well worth the effort.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like:
Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations, #1-2) by Michael J. Sullivan The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1) by Scott Lynch The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) by Brian Staveley The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #1) by Rachel Aaron
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
588 reviews3,483 followers
December 12, 2017
DNF at 40%

At some point you have to ask yourself: is it worth the stress to read on?

"My name is Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, and this was only the first of a great many bad days to come."




Traitor's Blade, unlike most adult high fantasy, is written in conversational first-person. Falcio talks to the reader quite frequently, that wink-wink-nudge-nudge style that very, very easily strays into annoying territory.

And that's exactly what it damn did. I read so many telling, not showing and "You might have expected me to do x, but I did y" scenarios, I was ready to grab a hatchet and finish murdering the lot of them.

Partially because of the writing, I didn't give a crap about anything. Not Falcio, not his friends whose friends I've already forgotten, not their bloody honor, or their plight.

Plus, Falcio's wife is raped and murdered which kicks off the story and Falcio's self-discovery journey. Are we not tired of lining male protagonists' character development with the bodies of dead women?

Because I am. So fucking tired.
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,023 followers
August 13, 2018
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

In Traitor’s Blade, Sebastien de Castell has succeeded in deftly crafting a sword and sorcery delight that harkens back to a simpler time when fantasy readers expected to be entertained with humor as well as action. Here, the characters’ playful banter and sword fighting flare is near equal to the legendary Three Musketeers and makes this a debut novel that should not be missed by any true fan of action and adventure tales. The simple fact is that Traitor’s Blade is a swashbuckling adventure that brings the fun back to epic fantasy!

description

The story itself follows Falcio and his companions. This group of Trattari, or “tatter-cloaks”, were once members of the legendary "Greatcoats", who traveled the land enforcing the king's justice, dealing out punishment to those who dared oppress the weak. It was a glorious life, which filled Falcio, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, with a sense of accomplishment as he tried to right the world's wrongs. But like all dreams, it came to an abrupt end.

Years have now passed since the Greatcoats became the Tattari: branded traitors by nobles and commoners alike, yet Falcio still cannot forget the past nor forgive those he views as responsible for the destruction of the king's dreams. Now, his only remaining desire in life is to fulfill a cryptic mission given from the royal lips themselves, and no matter if it takes him a lifetime, Falcio will find the mysterious Chariotes of the king -- even if he must personally thrust his rapier through the gut of every unscrupulous noble in the kingdom!

description

There are a lot of good things to say about this book. It is well written, paced to near perfection, filled with the correct amount of back story and politics to establish the setting, overflowing with humor and sword fighting, and blessed with a nice, surprising ending. Sure, there are a few times when our light, witty swashbuckling adventure turns dark and grim with a torture scene or an over-the-top villainess or even some bad flashbacks for Falcio or an all-knowing benefactor, but none of these “issues” ever overshadowed the brilliance of this book. From first page to last, Traitor’s Blade is exactly what it sets out to be: an exciting, witty adventure that any fantasy aficionado will adore.

In my reviews, I generally point out the problems I have with a book at this point. However, with Traitor’s Blade, I have chosen not to do that. I prefer to just recall the absolute fun I had while reading this novel and allow Mr. Castell the benefit of the doubt that the few problems in his writing will be resolved in the next book, because I dearly hope the second book in this lively series is soon to be published. In fact, I can hardly wait for another chance to laugh and frown and fight and love with the Greatcoats, as they line up once again to do battle with the forces of tyranny!

description


I received this book from Jo Fletcher Books and Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank both of them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
325 reviews1,187 followers
July 10, 2022
“That's what being free means - not the right to do whatever you want, but the right to take a stand and say what you'll die for.”

After waiting so long on my TBR pile, I finally started the Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell. I loved his Spellslinger series, but for some reason just never got on to read this. But now I have, and I am glad to say it lived up to my expectations.

The Greatcoats has become known mainly for its main trio at the core of the story. Falcio, Kest and Brasti are three of the few remaining Greatcoats, and their bromance is one of the strengths of this story. Their interactions are hilarious and entertaining but can also be emotional, with the love they have for each other being shown so well by Sebastien de Castell. He captures friendship and comradeship in a rare manner that is both amusing and moving.

“When you're fighting a crowd, it's good to shout potentially threatening things like "Crossbows!" or "Fire!" or "Giant Flying Cat!" every once in a while.”

This story also has a great plot that is unique and refreshing. The Greatcoats served the king, but the king has been deposed by his dukes, and the Greatcoats are now seen as outcasts. They are acting on the last message their king gave them, and still strive to change the nation, despite most of its inhabitants seemingly trying to kill them.

Traitor’s Blade is a charming first instalments to a series that has heart and one of the best group dynamics in fantasy. This is a series for people who love books with humour, but also those who want a spin on the epic fantasy tropes. It is so well written, with a great balance of plot, character and world building, and the action sequences are brilliant in their chaotic depiction.

5/5 STARS
Profile Image for Hamad.
974 reviews1,284 followers
August 6, 2021
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

“The archer is the true weapon; the bow is just a long piece of wood.”


Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

I have read the whole Spellslinger series because I heard good things about the author and I was not impressed upon finishing it. I finished the first book in the Greatcoats series and I am already impressed!

We follow the story of three of the Greatcoats, basically heroes of the king and are in charge of upholding his law. At least they were because the king has been impaled by the duke and the greatcoats reputation has been tarnished and now they are scattered across the land and take whatever jobs that they can get to go on with their lives.

The three Greatcoats we follow are Falcio, Kest, & Brasti. I noticed that De Castell has a talent for writing characters that make you care for them quickly. I mean less than 50 pages in and I already was a big fan of the Greatocoats and I wanted to know more about them. I actually think that the characters are the best element in the story so far! Here are some of my thoughts on those characters:

💉 Falcio: The first leader (Cantor) of the Greatcoats. He is a really good person, nice and well rounded. He is so passionate about the Greatcoats and thus fits the role as his leader. During the story, we are introduced to his sad past regarding his King and family.

💉 Kest: A swordsman, probably the greatest one alive. We also get a glimpse at his past and his family. He is kind of serious and wants to get down to business.

💉 Brasti: A master archer, handsome and has a dirty mind. He kind of was the comic relief character but also had some more serious moments which kind of balanced his character. He is my favorite so far!

I loved the characters by themselves and also loved their interactions. I was kind of disappointed when the story followed Falcio for the majority of the book but I know it is just book 1 and I know we will be getting more about the other Greatcoats.

“That’s what being free means – not the right to do whatever you want, but the right to take a stand and say what you’ll die for.”


The writing is very accessible to all readers, the author uses simple language which makes it a fairly easy read and a good place to start for those new to the genre. There is some cursing and filthy humor so I still think of it as an adult book anyway.

I am kind of surprised by the plot in a good way because it was fast paced and less than 400 pages in length but much happens in those pages. There were twists and stuff that I did not expect which is cool but on the other hand there were some threads that were not well explained and in my opinion they were major and kind of faded into the dark and left me confused as a reader. There is a cringy scene that I won’t talk much about and everyone who read the book knows what I am talking about.

The world-building is not extensive, there is a lot that we still don’t know about but it actually did not bother me because I felt we got enough for book one in the series and I am pretty sure there is more from where that came from.

“The First Law is that men are free, for without the freedom to choose, men cannot serve their heart, and without heart they cannot serve their Gods, their Saints, or their King.”


Summary: The Traitor’s Blade is a strong beginning to the Greatcoats series. The characterization bleeds of the pages, the writing is simple and the pacing is fast which makes it an addicting read. There were a few things that were convenient to just move the plot and I wish they were done better but all in all, it is still a very solid entry to the series and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
1,989 reviews2,584 followers
February 18, 2014
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...

Oh my, this one was SO MUCH FUN. Unexpectedly so. Even when the earliest descriptions came trickling in calling this book a bold, dashing adventure and pure, swashbuckling entertainment, I had no idea! I figured those were just buzzwords, right? Ah, no. In this case, Traitor's Blade really does deliver the great time that all those descriptions promise.

There are so many things I love about this book, but most of all I love how it doesn't take itself too seriously. It was lighter in tone than I expected, which was a huge plus because I always appreciate a bit of humor with my fantasy! The only thing sharper than main protagonist Falcio val Mond's rapier is his own clever wit, and if you don't believe me, all you have to do is read the prologue. (Edit: Actually, TOR has an excerpt here! http://www.tor.com/stories/2014/02/tr...) It had me hooked, not to mention earning a few chuckles from me by page 3.

What strikes me about this book is how well it presents itself. To me, it reads like a medieval fantasy told in the tone of an urban fantasy, mainly due to the narrative style and the of the snappy pace of storytelling. Falcio and his companions Kest and Brasti are the last remnants of late King Paelis' mighty force of Greatcoats, quite possibly the only ones still dedicated to upholding the laws of the land despite their order being labeled as traitors. Before the Dukes took the kingdom and killed the king, however, Falcio was given one last mission. And trying to fulfill it is probably going to get him killed, if his silver tongue doesn't manage to do it first.

A natural born smooth talker (the other characters in the novel even poke fun at this), Falcio's narrative is as delightful as they come. He will endear himself to you with his fierce loyalty and moral compass, but also keep you on your toes with his unpredictability. Here is a protagonist who would just as soon vanquish his foes using his words and cunning, despite his strength and skill with a sword. As Falcio is quick to remind everyone, above all the Greatcoats value justice, not honor, and therefore he shows no qualms about certain unsportsmanlike behaviors such as, er, kicking a lady between the legs (trust me though, that character totally deserved it -- justice, remember!) There is also a darkness within Falcio, and I thought one of the more interesting aspects about him is his goodness warring with that inner pain.

So brace yourself, this is a very fast-paced book filled with non-stop action and tons of obstacles thrown at the characters, one right after another. The humor throughout keeps things nice and light, making this the perfect choice for readers looking for a story with traditional fantasy elements -- like heroes, magic, and epic quests -- but also with the added flair of dash and panache. In other books that have a lot of fight scenes, I'm always tempted to skim, but not so with this one. First of all, as a former fight choreographer, the author knows what great action looks like! And like I said, with Falcio's devil-may-care ways and the unpredictability of his fighting style, you really don't want to miss a thing!

As we all know, very few books are perfect but some stories have a way of bringing you to a point where you're just having too much fun to care. That's the place Traitor's Blade took me. I thought the ending and the revelations therein were a bit predictable, but honestly, that was my only quibble and it is a teensy tiny one at that, considering how much overall enjoyment I got from this book and how much I adored these characters. I cannot wait for the sequel.

In short, I loved loved loved Traitor's Blade. I would recommend it to everyone, and I think fencing and sword fighting types will especially get a kick out of it. Seriously, this is one excellent and remarkably entertaining book! Read it.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
692 reviews851 followers
May 29, 2017
The First Law is that men are free...

A laudable debut by Sebastian de Castell, Traitor's Blade has equal measures of humour, swashbuckling action, and heart. Set in an absolutely messed up world of independently ruled duchies, the story is told from the first person POV of Falcio val Mond, the First Cantor of the fallen Greatcoats.

The story started off with a bang as Falcio and his two best friends and fellow Greatcoats, Brasti and Kest, found themselves in deep trouble, which continued to hound them every step of the way. A fast-paced narrative with just the right dose of flashback chapters/sections. One can almost feel the exhaustion emanating from our main protagonist as he was perpetually tracked and attacked by those who wanted him and/or his ward dead.

The writing is enjoyable as it flows well and is easy to read without being too simple. The sword-fighting scenes were splendidly written; you almost felt like you're watching instead of reading it. I also appreciated the juxtaposition of light-hearted humour against the relative grimness of the setting; an oppressively screwed up world due to possibly the most horrible nobility I've encountered. Falcio has a real sarcastic sense of humour such that even when he was fending for his life (or for others), his internal monologue, more often than not, can bring forth a chuckle or two. On top of that, in true The Three Musketeers fashion, the banter between Falcio, Brasti and Kest was really fun to read.

The villains of this book are truly most foul, and they pretty much form most of the ruling nobility of the various duchies. An 'honourable' mention goes to Duchess Patriana - probably one of the most vile characters that I've encountered in recent memory. There was a particular scene that had me gritting my teeth while bringing tears to my eyes at the same time.

In short, the pacing and plot kept me engrossed and there were enough twists at the end to satisfy. A great start to a debut series that is without a doubt worth continuing.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,851 followers
December 16, 2017
I think I may have found a new fantasy favorite. Or one among a handful I can go ga-ga over, anyway. :)

It's refreshing as hell. I think it's the writing and the dialogue more than anything, but I still feel refreshed and eager even when really horrible stuff is happening. I think it's how the information is conveyed rather than the fact of it. I mean, getting a room in an inn with a duke's head in a bag, going out back to bury it properly with the innkeeper? Brilliant.

I've heard others describe this as Three Musketeers in a fantasy setting and that may be. If it is, then I really really need to get off my ass and read the original, because this book was pretty kickin and extremely enjoyable.

I don't really think the title does it justice and I the whole outside idea of what a Greatcloak happens to be just didn't spark my imagination, but when I was actually reading this, I was like... Oh! Dishonored but classically GOOD knights all wrapped up in the idea of justice for the downtrodden, etc, despite the fear and the classically horrible dukes of this kingdom driving everyone into misery.

I'm not doing this book justice. Maybe the Greatcloaks should come at me.

Truly, it's a rip-roaring good time even with all the revenge and the mad berserker rages and the loss and the slim silver threads of redemption. The world is really horrible. That's why these Greatcloaks shine so damn bright. And the way it's written makes it both witty, a charming read, and fun. :)

What more can we ask for?

Some writers just have that spark and this one has it. :)
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews206 followers
April 8, 2017
‘That’s what being free means – not the right to do whatever you want, but the right to take a stand and say what you’ll die for.’

“Traitor’s Blade” is the first book in the Greatcoats series. I first stumbled upon this book when reading a great review of Samir. Thanks for turning my attention to this interesting book! ;)

What can I say, this book contains a bold story, resembling A. Dumas “Three Musketeer’s” with lot’s of swordplay, alluring heroes, twists, tricks, treachery, action, fights and a quest for a hidden king’s treasure. Still, it’s a fantasy story with adventurous spices. It charmed me with gripping but at the same time easy-flowing plot, great presentation of the art of swordplay and of course, I found interesting, peculiar and memorable characters.



Characters. “Traitor’s Blade” follows Falcio, a faithful and fair master of rapier and other sharp weapons, an excellent leader, smart, complex, witty and kind-hearted.



Together with his loyal companions, Kest and Brasti, both great masters in their own field, all three are the unlucky members of the organization which gave pride to it’s members serving the law and justice and beloved king. I really enjoyed the interaction between Falcio and his companions, it was witty and gentle, at the same time easy-flowing and not forced. These guys really had each others’ backs. Still, their greatest power lies not in weapons, but in their uniforms. Oh my, that’s a really great combination to start rooting for characters and I did that!

One of the trio earned a great promotion in the Saint’s field, that was cool as the opposing character was unexpected and interesting. I would have liked a more throughout scene there, but he’s still a great character.





Together with the goodies I found evil villains, always ready for grand scheming and of course, some of them explicit, some short lived to my great disappointment and some not fully revealed in their meanness.

Narrative. “Traitor’s Blade” is definitely a fun read. The story is narrated using first-person. The flow of words is humorous and likable, with some dark scenes. The plot is mostly solid, well-written and fast-paced. The flashbacks to past events were mostly great, though I felt that one scene was a bit strange. Still, the flashbacks weren’t long and they were important to the story. Also, I liked the magical interlude at the beginning of the book and hoped that magic will play the main role there, but it wasn’t really so.

To sum up and despite some small flaws, this book is an enjoyable read, with a quite well written story and gripping characters. The ending was perfect and it definitely made me want to read the next book in the series. Oh and I want a greatcoat, purple one, please! :)


121 reviews58 followers
May 16, 2017
3.5 stars.

I don’t want anybody getting the wrong idea, so I’m going to say this upfront. I really, really enjoyed reading this book. I may have had my few issues with it, but I would honestly still highly recommend it to anybody who is looking for a fun, entertaining read, because this definitely fits the bill.

This book sits on the lighter end of fantasy. Magic only plays a minor role within the story as a whole, and there's no specific "magic system" like you might find in a Sanderson novel. The magic in this book seems to come more in the form of powders and amulets and things like that. There also really isn't a whole lot of worldbuilding in this book, because most of the concepts the author presents are things that the average reader will already be familiar with. Some might think that a lack of magic and worldbuilding is a huge con in a fantasy book, but in my opinion, it actually works in this book's favor. Rather than being bogged down trying to understand or figure out the complex magic system and the world that the author is creating, I was able to dive right in and enjoy the story and the characters. And that's where this book shines.

The main characters, Falcio, Kest, and Brasti, are all super likeable, and their relationship with each other is both touching and hilarious all at the same time. There's A LOT of humor in this story between the main characters, which I loved. It's uncommon for an author to tell a serious story while also weaving humor into the narrative in a way that doesn't feel out of place, but de Castell did this really well.

The story was not super original, but there were enough unique twists and surprises that it kept me interested, and the great characters helped with this as well. It was like classic Three Musketeers, meets classic redemption and revenge story, meets The Purge (yes, The Purge, haha). It was fun! Also, several parts about the ending genuinely took me by surprise, which is always a big plus. I didn't see several of the twists coming.

Now, that being said, I had my fair share of issues with this book, which is what earned the 3.5 star rating. One of them is a spoiler, as it directly relates to parts of the story, but I made sure to tag it. If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these!

1. A few moments in this book honestly felt cringe-worthy to me. Like in Disney or Hallmark movies, where they tell you to trust your heart or believe in yourself, and everything just works out. Or love just manages to overcome the impossible, and finds away. That kind of stuff. I'm a very positive, happy person, but it reaches a point where I can't really handle it haha. And there was a lot of this at the end.

2. There were several "WTF?" moments in this book. This is where the spoilers are, as well as a huge rant, so click at your own risk haha. . There was also a moment where Falcio . Additionally, there was that whole scene where ALSO, when Falcio and Aline . OH AND LETS NOT FORGET THAT WONDERFUL MOMENT WHEN

3. Falcio is the most well-developed character, by far, probably because he is the POV in this book. But even though I loved Kest and Brasti, I really wish we got to see more of their background. The book was short enough that we could have learned more about these two, without making the story drag. One thing I didn't like was that we had a full backstory given for Falcio, but almost none for Kest and Brasti. There were things hinted at in Kest's past, and I kept getting the feeling that we were about to learn something about him, but I was left disappointed in the end. No spoilers here, but a big part of the climax didn't make sense to me at all, because they didn't explain anything about Kest's backstory.


All in all, I really did enjoy this book. Great characters and a great story, but there were just several things that kind of took away from the story for me. I'll definitely keep reading though, and hopefully they improve as I go! I'm hoping we learn more particularly about Kest and Brasti.
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