There must be something in the water or maybe the good clean open air of Canada at the moment, this is yet another author able to turn out something amazing. (others being Christian Cameron and CC Humphreys, two of my personal fav authors.)
Traitors Blade is something new in the fantasy genre, at least for me (im not as widely read in fantasy as i used to be). To get a fantasy using Timeslip, something normally reserved to thrillers worked fantastically, introducing back story and tension at the same time. This book is neither character driven or plot driven, its a wonderful blending, the author getting that fine balance between driving forward the story, and the characters voices and narrative. The story is packed with humour, emotion, banter and great character camaraderie. I’m sure that some of my enjoyment is due to the dry, self deprecating at time sarcastic voice of Falcio first Cantor of the Greatcoats and his companions.
The Greatcoats being the books/ authors fantastic creation, both the Armour they are named for, and the ideals and reason for their being. The enemy, the Dukes of the kingdom, put me in mind of the opposite of King John, where the dukes brought the King to heel and signed the people charter (Magna Carta) in Traitors Blade the king was the driving force for good and change, for the people, and the dukes are the petty tyrants.
This is yet another book this year that is in the category, “Left me with a book Hangover”, ie left me thinking about it for days afterwards, the style, the plot, the characters, and most of all wishing for the next book in the series. In finding and publishing Sebastian de Castell and Traitors Blade Jo Fletcher Books have given the genre a real treat, and i hope something new for years to come.
I want to join the Greatcoats, and ride with them again…. i honestly urge you to also Join them Buy the book
Also to find your greatcoat name, use your maternal grandmothers maiden name and your primary school. (mine is Carter St Joseph)
Highly recommend this one
on 18 January 2016
A bit of a revelation, as close as you'll get to a five star read without actually getting there. Picked this up as a stop gap before the release of Pierce Brown's next book and found it a more than worthwhile read. Evoking memories of Musketeers and Saturday mornings watching the Flashing Blade. A refreshing departure from the hack and slash, blood and guts of some of this genre's offerings. Back to Knightly, or in this instance Greatcoat, values of loyalty, honesty, trust and a time when giving someone your word meant something. Take all that and temper it with a bit humanity and humour and you get the Traitors Blade. Read it, be as surprised, impressed and above all else entertained as I was,enough to have bought the second book with fifty pages left to read.
on 25 August 2014
In short Traitor’s Blade is a great read. Its well written and above all thoroughly entertaining. The story moves at a fast pace which along with strong characters with believable motives makes this a real page turner. So if you like your swash buckled and your action fast buy this book.
I only have two criticisms first the main protagonist states that a rapier is lighter and hence faster than an arming sword which it’s not (basically the rapier has a thinner but longer blade so the amount of metal and hence weight is the same). But to be fair I doubt most readers will ether know this to be incorrect or care and I accept I am being a complete pedant. And secondly and more importantly where is the sequel?
on 7 July 2014
This is my book of the year so far. It is the also first book I have reread immediately after finishing. It is not perfect - there are a couple of holes in the plot and a glaring continuity error but I just couldn't put this book down. The lead protagonist is fantastic, the fights are really well written and the plot and world building are really interesting. "Musketeers" in a fantasy setting should be a cheese-fest but somehow this book is less clichéd than a lot of other current fantasy. If you want a break from gritty antiheroes but don't want a stereotypical fantasy book then you can't go wrong with this one. Genuinely fun and a joy to read.
on 8 September 2015
A pleasant surprise, did not expect this much fun given the description, carried off with some real flair. Does fade badly at the end, not really sure what went on there. Good effort for first book though. Bought second book straight away, looking forward to it.
on 23 March 2014
Sebastien de Castell's Traitor's Blade looks to be Jo Fletcher Books' big spring debut and the campaign promoting this book has been extensive. The first reactions to the book I've seen on Twitter have been very enthusiastic, so my expectations were high when I started Traitor's Blade. From the synopsis I had expected to enjoy the book and taking into account the reactions from those around me, I knew I was in for a treat, but what I hadn't expected was how much of a treat it would be. Because Traitor's Blade is a very polished debut with a solid plot, great characters, a lovely world, and most importantly, it exudes a sense of fun that is infectious.
The star of Traitor's Blade and our narrator is Falcio val Mond, erstwhile head of the King's Greatcoats. What struck me about Falcio's voice was how instantly compelling it was and how distinctive. Falcio is a sympathetic character and one that is well-rounded. He's a good man, but one with a darker side to him that we get to see as well. I loved the sense of brotherhood he had with his fellow Greatcoats, Brasti and Kest; they felt a little like the Three Musketeers before D'Artagnan finds them. They also have a fantastic way of bantering, the sort that's grown from working closely and surviving together over a large number of years. We also get to know the late King Paelis quite well through flashbacks to Falcio's memories, which allows De Castell not only to show us why the Greatcoats are so devoted to their late king, but also how they got to the situation they are in when the book starts. I liked the king's idealistic nature, his desire to leave the world better than he found it, without ever being naive about it.
Some of the more interesting characters in the novel are women. I loved the mysterious Tailor, the maker of the coats that give the Greatcoats their name and I hope we learn more about her magic in the next book. Princess Valiana is also a fascinating character, one that oscillates between spoiled noble brat and the hint of something more. I liked where De Castell took her story and I look forward to seeing more of her development. And of course Falcio's ultimate nemesis, the Duchess Patriana, is a delicious villain. She's so evil, it's almost over the top; but she is a character I loved to hate.
The world De Castell set his book in is interesting. I liked the political set up with the idealistic king and the awful Dukes who exploit their citizenry. It's an age old phenomenon, though it's usually the other way around with a tyrannical king and noble dukes. I also like the city of Rijou and the Ganath Kalila, or Blood Week, story line. I found it an interesting concept and I liked how De Castell used it to show us the strength of how the Greatcoats work. He also writes some kick-ass fighting scenes which always is a huge plus in my book.
While the plot was solid and engaging, there was one thing that just made me roll my eyes at the blindness of the characters, especially Falcio. It was at the true identity of one of the characters, which I'd seen coming for over a hundred pages before Falcio finally figured it out. The question is whether it was the intent of the author for the reader to figure it out far before the characters do or whether I've just read too much epic fantasy. While it didn't lessen my overall enjoyment of the story, it did bug me, especially as there are several other identity reveals that took me quite by surprise.
What struck me the most about De Castell's writing, other than Falcio's instantly distinctive voice is the fun the book exudes. Not in the sense that it's a humorous novel, though there is certainly a lot of humour in the dialogues, but in the sense of adventure and derring-do that De Castell seems to gleefully revel in. The narrative has its grimmer moments and isn't all sunshine and butterflies, but it never loses its joyous sensibility. I found myself reading while grinning like the Cheshire Cat more than once and I was disappointed that I'd finished the book so quickly, because I didn't want to leave Tristia behind.
Traitor's Blade has been positioned as one of the big debut releases of this spring and it's one that makes good on its promise. I have a fantastic time with Traitor's Blade and it's certainly my top fantasy debut so far this year, perhaps even my favourite debut overall. Traitor's Blade is a fun, polished gem of an epic fantasy tale and I can't wait to find out what is next for Falcio and friends and to read more of De Castell's writing. Traitor's Blade comes highly recommended.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.
on 4 March 2016
"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.
on 10 January 2016
Where to start with this? Well, it really does start with a bang the novel opens with three men standing guard outside while their master has some fun in the room with someone, you discover that them men are former members of the King's Greatcoats and have been disbanded after the king is executed by the Dukes. The fantasy realm we are inhabiting this time is called Tristia one of the more exciting fantasy realms that i have come across. The men's master is assassinated which launches the greatcoats on a journey to save Tristia from the iron rule of the dukes.
The novel is told from the perspective of Falcio Val Mond, the first cantor of the Greatcoats and is told in the first person perspective in the present day scenes an the flashbacks that Falcio experiences that tell the story up to a certain point. This particular way of telling a story can be it's downfall but Sebastian handles this very well and the story flows really nicely, this allows the reader to really experience the memories that Falcio has and really sympathise with as well. The novel also allows you to appreciate the finer points of swordplay as well, it is to the credit of Sebastian that the writing shows he has a great narrative voice and also presents a heavy story as well.
I do remember when i first saw this advertised that i was sceptical about what it could offer but this reviewer has been pleasantly surprised and i would thoroughly recommend this for any fan of fantasy literature. This is a excellent debut novel and i would encourage everyone to read it, well now its time for me to continue reading the next book in the series "Knight's Shadow".
To all fans of fantasy literature keep reading!
on 28 June 2015
This book was recommended to me separately by two friends, I’d fallen out of the habit of reading adult fantasy and they both knew that this was a book I may have missed but needed to read. They were both absolutely right, within the first chapter I was in love with this book and these feelings only grew over the time I was reading it. It’s the sort of book that sucks you right in, I found I was really resentful of the times when I had to put it down and do other things. This fantasy world has magic and some fantastical creatures, it also has a hugely corrupt political system with Dukes over throwing Kings and it is the aftermath of these struggles which provide the backdrop for the book. Our focus for the book is Falcio, one of the remaining Greatcoats – a group who had served the King travelling far and wide to uphold the law. Named for the magnificent coats that they wear, the Greatcoats were effectively disbanded during the Dukes’ victory and now Falcio and his close friends Brasti and Kest are in the wind. This central friendship is wonderful, the closeness of the bond that they share leaps off the page and is one of my many favourite things about the book. There’s so much action in this book, so many brilliantly written fight sequences, and then at the same time some truly beautiful quieter moments. There are also some twists that I didn’t see coming – it absolutely felt like everything I’d known about the book had been ripped away but at the same time felt entirely right to the plot, in hindsight nothing came out of nowhere. This book is truly brilliant, the sequel Knight’s Shadow has been published already and is waiting on my Kindle for me, and then there are two more books planned in the series.
This book is obviously the start of a new series in the epic fantasy style - it deals with the fate of nations and peoples, and has as its themes honour, duty and doing the right thing. The book is narrated by the main character, Falcio, who has been the First Cantor of the Greatcoats who administered the King's Law and were known for their coats which were armoured and had certain unusual refinements. The story of the fall of the King and the disbandment of the Greatcoats is told in flashback whilst in the present time we see how the remnant manage as despised mercenaries. Falcio and his companions become involved in the machinations of the ruling dukes which threaten not just their lives but most of what is good that remains.
The book's success lies with the character of Falcio. His narration is witty and dry and he has an immensely stubborn character. His insistence on doing what he knows is right challenges those in power and threatens the lives of himself and his friends. He balances a realism based on sad experience with an optimistic hope for the future which is quite endearing. The creation of the world in which the characters live is well done with the author avoiding dumping information on the reader - the culture seems to approximate seventeenth century Europe in many ways. I was reminded in a lot of places of the darker but similar "The Blade Itself" trilogy of Joe Abercrombie.
An excellent epic fantasy with an engaging hero and lots of nice loose ends to be tied up in future books in the series.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley.