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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Men in coats
First book in a new fantasy series. This isn't quite as big a novel as most of that kind, coming in at three hundred and seventy pages.

It has a map of the setting at the front.

It's divided into thirty chapters.

Being the start of a series means that it ends with a lot still to be resolved.

It does have some violence, a few...
Published 2 months ago by Paul Tapner

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish
I just could not get on with this book, the way it was written, the characters did not capture my imagination, i did not escape into the world and get carried away, after all it is fantasy! Therefore quickly deleted.
Published 4 months ago by Fireball 61


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Men in coats, 19 Dec. 2014
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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First book in a new fantasy series. This isn't quite as big a novel as most of that kind, coming in at three hundred and seventy pages.

It has a map of the setting at the front.

It's divided into thirty chapters.

Being the start of a series means that it ends with a lot still to be resolved.

It does have some violence, a few bits of strong language. And some scenes of an adult nature.

The setting is a land called Tristia. Home to Falcio. Who narrates the entire story in first person present tense. He was once a member of the Greatcoats. People who are basically travelling magistrates, who travelled the land to deliver the King's justice when required. All Greatcoats are superb warriors and people of honour.

But that was before the Duke's had the King brought down. And the Greatcoats were forced to do something that has left them utterly hated by people across the Land.

Years later, Falcio and two of his comrades are still together. Pursuing what appears to be a hopeless quest. But there's still far more going in Tristia than initially meets the eye, and the Greatcoats might still have a role to play...

This is one of those books that drops you right into the middle of things, and gradually fills in the details as it goes along. There are occasional flashbacks to key past moments in Falcio's life which do that. And yet, perhaps because we only ever see things via his narration, you're never for a single moment lost or confused. The writing grabs from the off with some good solid readable prose and never lets up.

Falcio is an easy character to like. A man trying very hard to keep his honour and to keep doing the right thing. His comrades are well drawn and likeable also.

The setting becomes interesting as the details are filled in. Although most use swords and arrows there are rudimentary firearms, and some rather oblique magic.

It throws in, via the actions of it's lead, some good moral lessons, and some moments that might make you want to punch the air in delight. This is the kind of book that makes you want to read 'just one more chapter.'

There is a much bigger picture going on which slowly becomes apparent. At times it does feel, because of this, that Falcio isn't driving the narrative as much as he should. But this isn't a real problem because he's always trying to be proactive. And come the last seventy pages, when a great few surprises await, and all becomes clear, any such concerns are allayed.

This is a superb debut. Very well written, and very readable. With great characters. And a really good plot. There's an incredible amount to like about it, and I enjoyed reading it very much. Roll on book two.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Debut, 10 Mar. 2014
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
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Review

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

(Parm)
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Fantasy Debut Since Mark Lawrence's Prince Of Thorns!, 27 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
The story is told from the 1st person perspective of Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats. His charming, romantic and noble (though he'd hate for me to say that) personality traits are what caused my to form an allegiance with the character early on and maintained that connection throughout.
The basic storyline (without any spoilers) is that Falcio dreamt of becoming a member of the legendary Greatcoat's from a young age and when he finally becomes one, he is faced with far more trouble than he could have ever anticipated. A simple and intriguing storyline that I'm sure would interest any keen fantasy reader. However, as I progressed in reading the story, it became more complex (as all good novels should do) with sudden and more complicated twists in events. The events and politics of the story appeared to be influenced by a collection of historic elements of 17th Century England, which for me personally, added something special to the story as I sub-consciously tried to second guess what was going to happen next but was left surprised every time, much to my own relief.
Despite the restricted narrative, the story maintains it's simplicity in understanding what is going on and doesn't lose the reader at any point therefore it does not lose the reader's attention.
Sebastien De Castell has also done a superb job in balancing character development (equalling that of Scott Lynch), plot and the building of this fantasy world.
This book was easily read and never appeared to dip in the quality of its writing like most books do at some point.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read and will be keeping a very close eye on this author for future releases!
I could not recommend this book any highly! A must read (despite how cliché that sounds)!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best start to a series in a while!, 25 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book. Picked it up on my Kindle and could barely put it down. I am not sure whether it is a "debut book" by the author but I think it is. Personally I think it is better than Rothfuss/Dalglish/Scull/Hoffman/Gwynne/Ryan's recent "debut efforts." Not to put them down as they all have written good novels - particularly Rothfuss and Ryan.

There is something in this book and story though that I like. It does nothing particularly new or different - hence not 5 stars - but what it does in a very "typical fantasy" kind of way it does very well. The bad guys are particularly loathsome but cunning, the good guys flawed but decent. The characters are well written, the pace and tempo about right and the story itself engaging. It does not try to be too clever, I could see some of the "twists" coming but that is a good thing in some cases and where it is really good is that it maintains focus on the lead character unlike many of the GRR Martin spin offs who insist on multiple points of view.

It is just a very assured book that won't change your life but will want you looking for the next instalment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, but a fun read., 30 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
One thing I'll say from the outset, is that there are two elements of this book that might put off some fantasy readers.

1) Characters talk in a very modern way.
2) There is gunpowder and pistols.

With point 1, they don't use modern slag or anything, but there is no attempt to create a formal or archaic way of talking. In relation to point 2 this world is on the cusp of gunpowder technology - it exists, but is expensive and unreliable.

The plot has a Three Musketeers feel to it and is a fast, breezy, action packed read. Lots of detailed sword fights, not so detailed characters, but they follow a well worn character traits that make then instantly relatable as you you've met these characters before. So this is pretty "lite" fantasy, while it has the darkness, it is closer to early Gemmell than it is to Abercrombie.

I think this is a debut book so some of the little issues I had with the prose and structure can be forgiven and I'm very much looking forward to the next in the series.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buckle thoroughly swashed!, 10 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Throwbacks in fantasy are a tricky thing to get right. I'm all for reading books that take you on adventures and celebrate the sheer fun of the thing, but there is a point where you begin to sacrifice plot and character for the sake of it, and it can perhaps be a more delicate balancing act than one might think. I love me a good adventure, but not at the expense of those things.

Thankfully, Traitor's Blade gets this balancing act right.

Sebastien de Castell does an impressive job of making his central characters, most notably Falcio val Monde, both intriguing and sympathetic. He's clearly a man with as many personal issues as he has conviction in his duties as a Greatcoat, even if that organisation is in ruins nowadays. That conviction, however, takes a beating throughout the course of this story, and the places that his determination takes him make for quite a grim journey. I couldn't help feeling compelled to stick with it, though, and by the end the rewards are pretty satisfying.

See, I love a good Musketeers-style tale. I love swords and duels and intrigue and betrayal and all for one. I also love reading stories where the central players in 'games' like these are tested to their limits, both in terms of their capabilities and, as I mentioned, their personal convictions. Falcio and his friends go through enough hell to make you wonder why they keep doing what they do - but for all their flaws and their arguments amongst themselves, there's no question that these men share a bond that's both rare and unquestionable, both following and during the hard times they've got to face.

This is where de Castell gets that throwback quality right, because he balances it all with a more modern flavour. Back in the day of such stories, all the swordfighting and spectacle might have been considered enough. Not today. Readers want things to make sense, they want to relate to and understand a character's motivations. No two-dimensional Hero Of The Day for us, please. Keep the derring-do, by all means, but you've got to make us care about it. That's what characters are for, and here, that's what they do.

Well, mostly. I held back from giving this book five stars for a couple of reasons. All of my sheer enjoyment aside, I felt that a little more could have been done to lend weight to the villains in this story. Oh, the bad guys are properly despicable and hiss-worthy, no question - but they were perhaps a little too much so...? See above regarding making us care - I never had a doubt who the bad guys here really were, which is fine, but I'm the kind of reader who likes to be able to question those things. Give me moral grey areas! We're given this where Falcio and his friends are concerned, which I enjoyed - but a little more balance on the Bad Guy side of the line would have gone such a long way.

That said, and to be fair, de Castell does spring a surprise on the reader at a certain pivotal point that I confess did take me completely by surprise. It was a real forehead-slapping moment for me, but I'll happily tip my hat to him for pulling it off. Well played, sir.

The other thing that kept that five-star rating juuuuust out of reach for me was the maintenance of tension throughout the book. It starts off strong, at a good clip, and the ending absolutely left me wanting the next book pretty darned badly - but some of the midway-point action felt a little more meandering than it perhaps should have been.

On another positive note, though, what action it was! I've rarely enjoyed swordplay and fight scenes in a book as much as I enjoyed these. Definitely a high point!

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I got the action, I got the intrigue, I even got a pretty impressive monster out of the deal (sort of). There's enough magic to fascinate me - I'd like more of that, I think. That magic ties into an ending that definitely left me asking enough questions to ensure I'll come back for more.

As debut novels go, de Castell's offering up one that's most certainly worth your time. There are characters I loved to root for, and misgivings aside, I will admit I happily booed the bad guys as well. It's exactly the kind of book I can (and did!) tear through in a couple of days, and had Real Life not gotten in my way it would have been read in a matter of hours. I think that speaks for itself.

Join the Greatcoats? Hell yes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great fantasy debut from a very promising author., 25 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
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?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the year so far....., 7 July 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (Leicester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and polished debut from a promising author, 23 Mar. 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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent epic fantasy, 30 Dec. 2014
By 
Anne (Sheffield, Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
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.
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