Book Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell
by Sebastien de Castell
Series: Book 1 of Greatcoats
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (March 6, 2014)
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
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
!) 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.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Jo Fletcher Books!