Book Review: Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell
***Welcome to the final stop of the Saint’s Blood blog tour, and I hope you’ll enjoy my review! Be sure to also check the other hosts’ thoughts on the book, and head on down to the end of this post for info and links to join in on the big competition sponsored by Jo Fletcher Books!***
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 3 of The Greatcoats
Publisher: Jo Fletcher (UK: April 7, 2016)
Length: 576 pages
Damn it, Sebastien de Castell, keep this up and you’ll end up giving all your readers heart attacks, because this book simply DOES NOT STOP. Practically every page is filled to the brim with swashbuckling action, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and laugh-out-loud hijinks from our magnetic hero Falcio val Mond and his loyal band of companions. In other words, this was exactly the kind of sequel I wanted! Saint’s Blood pulls out all the stops in this newest installment of the Greatcoats series, bringing all our favorite characters back for another round of epic excitement and adventure.
Just when you think things can’t get any worse for Falcio, Kest, and Brasti, the situation in Tristia plunges further into disaster. The country was already on the verge of tearing itself apart, with its people close to revolt and the dukes still looking for ways to depose their young queen, and nothing the Greatcoats have been doing for the last six months seems to have made any difference. Now a new threat has emerged, and whoever their shadowy enemy is, they’re targeting the Saints of Tristia. To Falcio’s horror, the first victim they find is none other than Birgid the Saint of Mercy. Weakened and dying, all her powers seem to have been negated by a cruel iron mask locked around her face to prevent her from fighting back against her attackers.
On top of the murdered Saints, rumors are also spreading through the countryside that the Gods themselves are displeased with the way things are going in Tristia, further undermining Aline’s claim to the throne. Churches and religious sanctuaries are being desecrated everywhere and thousands of pilgrims are pouring into the capital campaigning for their faith, leading to the return of the Inquisitors, a holy order of warriors charged to enforce the Gods’ Laws. Unfortunately, the Greatcoats and the Inquisitors don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of matters. Whoever is orchestrating all these events—which are too well-timed to be coincidental—seems bent on bringing back the conditions to turn the country back into a theocracy, which would undo everything the late King Paelis had worked so hard to accomplish.
Well, you can bet Falcio’s not about to let that happen. And while his quest to bring the King’s Laws back to Tristia may seem more hopeless now than ever before, he’s got his old friends to count on to help him out, not to mention a new ally or two to keep things fresh (five words: I love you, Quentis Maren!) As always, I adore the usual suspects, starting with the down-to-earth Kest and the hilarious Brasti, Falcio’s two best friends. Our terrific trio maintains the heart of this series, fueling the novel’s energy and running jokes. Then there’s the fantastic cast of female characters. Though Aline, Valiana, and Darriana all have smaller roles in this book, Ethalia gets to step up and become a force to be reckoned with. I even enjoyed witnessing the transformation of those we used to think of as villains, such as the mercurial Duke Jillard.
As you can see, the characters in these books are always growing, their relationship dynamics constantly in flux. As a character-oriented reader, I can never get enough of seeing them adapt and form new bonds. Falcio is a man who draws people into his orbit and changes them without him or any of them even noticing it, but he also has a major blind spot when it comes to those closest to him. His powerful need to protect the important people in his life—especially the women, who most of the time don’t even want or require his stepping in—is something I find to be an ongoing conflict in spite of the other evolving aspects of his personality, and I hope it will resolve in time as he realizes that he need not save the world all by himself, and that his friends are definitely stronger than he thinks they are.
Story-wise, Saint’s Blood follows in much the same vein as the previous novel, but for me, there was a key difference. Looking back, I didn’t rate Knight’s Shadow as highly as the first book Traitor’s Blade because I felt the plot meandered somewhat, and perhaps didn’t flow as naturally as it could have. However, Saint’s Blood takes things back on track, hitting the ground running and never once does it stray from its course.
Moreover, the book is playing to its strengths, focusing on the type of in-your-face action and humor that first drew me to Traitor’s Blade. Granted, no one said that this series would be all sunshine and lollipops, and in fact, Falcio’s dogged tenacity in the face of dark times and overwhelming odds is what makes these novels so addictive and fun to read. But Knight’s Shadow took the darkness and hopelessness to extremes, with chapters devoted to scenes of torture and suffering, and I won’t deny that it put a major damper on things. It’s probably no surprise then, that what I appreciated most about Saint’s Blood is the fact it brings back the balance, presenting another nigh impossible challenge for the Greatcoats while still keeping the atmosphere lighthearted and adventurous. I laughed more than I did for either of the previous books, and all the funny moments and rousing fist-pumping scenes reminded me all over again why I fell in love with this series.
Needless to say, this was an incredible sequel on all levels, echoing the exciting fast-paced structure of Knight’s Shadow while bringing back the themes and vibes that made Traitor’s Blade so successful. Wildly entertaining and thoroughly intense, Saint’s Blood is the kind of book that makes you wish all epic heroic fantasy can be this awesome. This is the genre at its finest and Sebastien de Castell is to be congratulated for bringing us another fantastic installment to the Greatcoats saga. Honestly, I’m not sure how I will survive the wait for book four.
To celebrate the release of Saint’s Blood in style, Jo Fletcher Books is giving one lucky winner the chance to get their Greatcoat name in the next book in the series! See more details on the contest and how you can enter here!