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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Fantasy Debut Since Mark Lawrence's Prince Of Thorns!
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...
Published 4 months ago by Shane Dunne

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Simple book with some decent quips
This is a very simple story that tries as it develops to become more detailed and engaging and succeeds partly. The main problem I found was the way it was told (first person). This was because it lead to a very one sided view of events and story become a little samey as it were once i reached the middle part. On the other hand it was very simple, the plot moves along at...
Published 3 months ago by Mr. M. C. Russon


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5.0 out of 5 stars Epic..., 8 April 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) (Kindle Edition)
Humour, mystery, passion and sorrow... A great story and a great writer. There are few authors who's work I recommend unreservedly, but de Castell is one of them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Armed justice against mayhem and arbitrary rule, 6 April 2014
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JPS - See all my reviews
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This is a swashbuckling piece of heroic fantasy, set in the fictional kingdom of Tristia, which is made up of eight Duchies and Aramor, the “home of Kings”. The King has been executed by the Dukes and their Knights five years before this story begins. He has not been replaced and the Greatcoats, the fighting judges that he had recreated to curb the arbitrary rule of the Dukes, have been disbanded and more or less outlawed. Even since, the Kingdom has descended into mayhem as its laws are no longer enforced and the arbitrary rule and the ambitions of each Duke increasingly prevail.

The story is told in what is a gripping and very entertaining way, with chapters alternating between now and the past, when King Paenis was still alive. In addition to keeping up suspense, something at which Sebastien de Castell is rather good at, this allows the reader to understand little by little how Tristia got into such an awful situation, and how, because of the conspiracy of some of the Dukes, it got get even worse.

Another feature that worked rather well for me was to have the story told in the first person. This does not always work and some readers tend to dislike first-person story telling. It does here, however, with the story told by Falcio Val Mond, the former First Cantor (and therefore Chief) of the Greatcoats, who was also the friend, the confidant and the right-hand man of the King, and shared his dream and his ideals of justice.

A third set of features relate to characterisation. The character of Falcio is quite remarkably drawn, with his ideals, but also his hidden wounds that take him to extremes, and he is presented in such a way that it is hard not to empathise with him. He is, of course, and just like his two companions Kest and Brasti, a master at arms, and, in his case, a duellist that few if any can outmatch with a rapier, apart, possibly, from his childhood friend Kest. The other characters are also mostly good, including that of the cynical, cruel and very “nasty” Duke of Rijou (not that the other Duke and the Duchess which appear in the book are any better!). This is perhaps where I might have a first – slight – reservation with this book. The “nasties” are perhaps a bit too awful to be entirely credible, especially the Duchess of Hervor.

Yet another element which worked well for me was that this story, which seems to be set in a fictional equivalent of the late 15th or early 16th century in Europe (Knights in plate armour, but also Greatcoats with rapiers, crossbows and bows, but also the odd pistol), was that the author makes sparing use of magic. There is a bit of it, mostly used as tracking devices. There is also a rather extraordinary animal, of which I will say no more to avoid spoilers. There are even a couple of characters with supernatural powers, such as a Saint of the Sword, but, by and large, the use of magic is limited and does not dominate the whole story, as it sometimes does elsewhere.

What do dominate the whole story are the multiple fights and duels that the Greatcoats get themselves into: a cross between the three musketeers of Alexandre Dumas and of “Once upon a time in the West” from Sergio Leone. It is quite easy to imagine them with their great leather coats reinforced with armour and containing multiple pockets filled with all sorts of weapons, fighting rapiers (or bow) in hand against late medieval knights and foot-soldiers.

This action-packed book almost masked the fact that the author’s world-building is perhaps a bit weak and seems to take a bit of a “back-seat”. Apart perhaps from the murderous city of Rijou and “the Spear”, the almost interminable and mostly straight caravan road that crosses the whole continent from South to North through endless forests, the rest of the world is only subject to minimal (and often only generic) description. So this is certainly a very entertaining read and a superb first book for this author and it will certainly lead me to read the next instalment. However, it does not quite rate five stars for me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars greatcoats, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) (Kindle Edition)
Too many books are poorly put together but Sebastian de Castell has managed a great plot with believable people and in good English. Looking forward to the sequel very much.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Simple book with some decent quips, 8 April 2014
By 
Mr. M. C. Russon "m.c russon" (middlsebrough england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) (Kindle Edition)
This is a very simple story that tries as it develops to become more detailed and engaging and succeeds partly. The main problem I found was the way it was told (first person). This was because it lead to a very one sided view of events and story become a little samey as it were once i reached the middle part. On the other hand it was very simple, the plot moves along at a believable pace and there as mentioned some quotes. The last at the end could have been better in its delivery but worth a read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this, Read it!, 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) (Kindle Edition)
Often I get bored with books within the first few pages. This is one of those books that hook and reel you in. Has the right mix of humour, plots and twist and turns. Better reviews have been written here - I just wanted to rate it. Can't wait for the next book - but as this has only just been published, I will have a bit of a wait...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one hell of a good book, 21 Mar 2014
By 
C "iggulden" (RICKMANSWORTH, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) (Kindle Edition)
So many fantasies concentrate on the darkness in humanity these days. There's something to be said for that, if it's well done. Yet this is a book that reminds you that deep down, we want to have courage and honour - and we admire those who do. Hugely enjoyable throughout. 5 stars - well deserved.

Conn Iggulden
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this!!!, 15 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) (Kindle Edition)
I couldn't put it down......real life was put on hold!!!! I often find the 'swords' in 'swords and sorcery' books such as Game of Thrones just a bit too much for me.....but De Castellan has the balance just right!! The characters are great, the humour is witty and the plot twists and turns. Like with most good books, finishing it was like saying farewell to valued friends......but luckily this is the first in the series so I can meet them again!!

Oh, and just as an afterthought, (how can I put it without a spoiler??) wouldn't you just have loved to overhear Paelis persuading his partners to cooperate in his scheme to produce the King's Charoites????
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just plain fun, 11 Mar 2014
By 
Luanne Ollivier - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Now, I must admit - Sebastien de Castell's debut novel Traitor's Blade is not my normal fare. But right up front, I want to say that I am so glad I picked it up! Why?

Well....let's see....

A trio of swashbuckling Greatcoats, led by Falcio val Mond. Once revered throughout the land they are now reduced to working for hire, as their King is dead. The mighty Greatcoats are disbanded, but our three are staying true to their sworn oath to uphold and defend the law of the land - and fulfill the King's last command....

"Either the King's Charoites were out there somewhere and we would find them, or we would end our days at the end of a noose."

Through a series of machinations, they find themselves guarding a caravan headed straight to the stronghold of a dastardly Duke determined to thwart our heroes and put his own evil plan into play. Throw in some magic, a mysterious crone with unnamed powers, a few beautiful damsels, a war horse to rival no other, action packed fight scenes (very detailed as de Castell works as a fight choreographer)and wonderfully fun (and humourous) dialogue....

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

...and you've got one heck of a rollicking romp of a read! De Castell has created a fantastical world where one can imagine heroes on horseback (or foot as the case may be) ready to defend the poor and downtrodden, defeat the bad guys, save the girl (and the kingdom) and make you want to be there with them - sharing in the adventure.

We never question who is good and who is evil. But maybe we should have - the plotting keeps the reader guessing, with more than one twist thrown in along the way.

Traitor's Blade was a delightfully entertaining debut - and it looks like there will be further adventures of the Greatcoats in the future. I'll be picking up the next in the series. If you loved The Princess Bride (My name is Falcio val Mond) and The Three Musketeers, this is a book for you!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So do you want to learn the first rule of the sword - put the pointy end into the other man!, 23 Jun 2014
Let’s start this off with a little Jedi mind trick hypnotic suggestions shall we?

Traitor’s Blade is the book you are looking for, you will read Traitor’s Blade. *waves book in front of your face*

Not convinced? Alright – then I’ll just lay it all out straight for you. This book had pretty much everything I could possibly want. I was hooked from page 3 for crying out loud. How you might ask? The humor, the swashbuckling, the humor WHILE swashbuckling. As if you needed a definition here’s one anyway.

"swash·buck·ler (swshbklr, swōsh-) n. 1. A flamboyant swordsman or adventurer."

Watch my feet now, see how I dance?

There was a constant flow from one scene to the next such that I never had a chance to get even remotely bored. If you’re an action oriented reader like I am this will tickle you pink. Don’t get me wrong there is still plenty of room that was given over to world building and character development and we even saw flashbacks into the past. The story is told from the perspective of Falcio Val Mond, the First Cantor of the Greatcoats (i.e. leader of the disbanded King’s magistrates that previously used to uphold the law throughout the kingdom). So when we get these flashbacks they are of his past, how he came to be a Greatcoat as well as his interactions with his now deceased king. I can freely admit that I fell more than a little bit in love with Falcio. Indeed I even told my husband one night while reading in bed and petting the gorgeous blood red cover “I think I’ve fallen in love with somebody else…and he has a longer sword than yours…and pointy-er too.” To which he promptly looked at me with a long suffering smirk and said “You’re so messed up.”

But the humor – let me share with you the scene by by page 3 had me completely roped in.

" ‘Let what go, pray tell?’ he said. ‘The fact that you promised me the life of a hero when you tricked me into joining the Greatcoats and instead I find myself impoverished, reviled and forced to take lowly bodyguard work for traveling merchants? Or is it the fact that we’re sitting here listening to our gracious benefactor – and I use the term loosely since he has yet to pay us a measly black copper – but that aside, we’re listening to him screw some woman for – what? The fifth time since supper? How does that fat slob even keep up? I mean–’ ​

‘Could be herbs,’ Kest interrupted, stretching his muscles out again with the casual grace of a dancer.

‘Herbs?’

Kest nodded.

‘And what would the so-called “greatest swordsman in the world” know about herbs?’

‘An apothecary sold me a concoction a few years ago, supposed to keep your sword-arm strong even when you’re half-dead. I used it fighting off half a dozen assassins who we’re trying to kill a witness.’

‘And did it work?’ I asked.

Kest shrugged. ‘Couldn’t really tell. There were only six of them, after all, so it wasn’t much of a test. I did have a substantial erection the whole time though.’ "Pg 2 – 3

But you didn’t get just one of these amazing characters – oh no my sweets we get three of them. It reminded me somewhat of The Three Musketeers – which I have loved my whole life ever since I was a child and would prance around the house terrorizing the dog and my sisters with my antics wielding a long wooden spoon or an offending turkey baster – what I’m not ashamed! The way these three characters, Falcio, Kest and Brasti interacted will immediately reel you in. They just can’t seem to stop snarking at each other and it left me with a perpetual smirk on my face.

I’m sure I dreamed of adventure, sword fighting, magic wielding fantastical creatures even when I was in the womb. So not only did I get this amazing wry humor from this trio but there was a wealth of action, swordplay and intrigue, heart break and heroism. There wasn’t as much magic as I had originally anticipated but there was just enough to still lend an edge of the fantastical to it and I didn’t feel like it needed anything more than was there. While this is sword and sorcery fiction, it’s lighter on the sorcery and heavy on the sword. But even you die hard magic fans won’t mind even a bit. To put it mildly – *hums* this book was made for me and you!

I got this, let me tell you about this one time…

Throughout Traitor’s Blade I would see hilarious little bits thrown in that I’m sure might be part of any adventurer’s life but here they are given to us in a style and method fitting to the style of the book. These snippets detail just how crazy the lives of the Greatcoats can be. Each time I came across them, which were pretty frequent, they served to hook me deeper and deeper into the story and in love with this author’s storytelling method.

" 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 only really 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." -pg 30

One second please – I sense a fangirl moment coming on! I feel like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music right now and literally want to sing at the top of my lungs, from a mountaintop, just how much I loved this book. Or wait picture me as a big opera singer shaking the rafters of a roof down upon the heads of the audience. Ok maybe I’m carrying on too much. I have a tendency to go overboard when I really enjoyed a book. Back to why it was so great…

Not only was it humorous but Traitor’s Blade was heart-wrenching. As I moved through it gobbling up pages like a crazed junkie on a total book high – all of a sudden the author showed me that he could not only be darkly funny but he could twist and wrench my heart and poke me with ouchie ouchie things beside.

But how did he DO that? Why did do that!? To taste the elixir of my tears!? He was pulling out all the stops. Excellent world building, evil nobility – I gotta give it to him he can write some nasty villains. The setting is a kingdom that has five years past lost their king. The only good king in over a hundred years who cared for his people down to the lowest serf. But the nobles would have none of that. I doubt there was one good noble depicted in this book. The depths of depravity that these people went to just curdles your stomach. I’m a firm believer in if it can be imagined it can happen. Which makes me cringe all the more. Don’t be scared though this acts as the perfect counter balance to the rest of the narrative.

So, then when my heart strings and the power of my righteous anger were done being toyed with, at any given time another marvelous thing would be thrown at me like assassins or fey horses or swordplay used to have conversation, or or or FISTICUFFS!! That’s right baby you haven’t seen fisticuffs til you’ve seen these fisticuffs. In fact I’d love to pepper this entire review to bursting with quotes so that you can’t help but be tempted to read it but then that might spoil your fun. And that wouldn’t be very nice of me. So to sum up…

Everything and the kitchen sink!

Swordfighting, archery (come on who doesn’t love a good bit of archery?) assassins, heroes in disgrace, humor, berserker mode, amazing world building, fey horses, hidden jewels (wink wink, nudge nudge), heart break, revenge, fisticuffs, arse kickery, snark, Saints with names like “Saint Zaghev-who-sings-for-tears and “Saint Caveil-whose-blade-cuts-water, the bloody-faced Saint of Swords” and so much more! Alright I’ll stop now…

So do you want to learn the first rule of the sword that Traitor’s Blade will teach you?

‘The first rule of the sword is -’

‘-put the pointy end into the other man.’ – pg 25
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even if you don't like exquisitely choreographed fights..., 31 May 2014
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This review is from: Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) (Kindle Edition)
Give this a shot! There's a fashion for angsty, gritty 'realist' fantasy on the go, often seemingly for its own sake.But de Castell offers a shining example of how to do this right: how to combine the pathos and pain with the flashes of friendship, humour and joy that characterise a real life. There's also nuanced treatment of mental health, and complex, multifaceted female characters of all ages. The peasants are never reduced to revolting either! Genuinely affecting, well put together (in terms of pace and world-building) and the writing's a pleasure to read. Highly recommended, and I was looking for the next as soon as the last page was done...
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Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats)
Traitor's Blade (The Greatcoats) by Sebastien de Castell
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