Title: Traitor’s Blade
Author: Sebastien De Castell
Series: Greatcoats #1
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Overview: Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike. Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters. All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn… -Goodreads
This is one of those books that improves as it goes. My initial impression from just the first chapter was not fantastic. The story was told in a very over-the-top sarcastic voice that was almost condescending to the reader. It made me question whether the book would offer enough substance, or if I was in for a whole lot of bolstering and nothing else. Thankfully, about the point I would’ve gotten fed up, it started to tone down and I had just enough interest to keep going.
Then I hit about the halfway point and magic happened. I’m still not sure exactly what changed, but I was shocked to find myself suddenly unwilling to put it down. Who’d have thought a 1 or 2 star beginning would turn into a 4 to 5 star ending? And the second book was even better (RTC on that).
I’ve heard Greatcoats described as an alternate take on the Three Musketeers, and can’t say I disagree with that assessment. It has the same spirit of camaraderie, loyalty, and humor. But it definitely differs in delivery by amping up the sarcasm and humor to just shy of tolerable at times (this definitely relaxes as the story progresses, turning into much-needed comedic relief for some of the more intense scenes). Eventually it finds its balance, but the dynamics between the three Greatcoats was definitely a consistent highlight throughout.
Traitor’s Blade introduced some cool plot ideas I don’t think I’ve seen before, and I really liked how the story developed. It truly surprised me how much I ended up loving the second half of the book. This is one of those rare instances where I’m glad I stuck with it.
Recommendations: Traitor’s Blade had a very Locke Lamora attitude (on crack) that I think will appeal to fantasy readers who like a mix of humor and grit in their books. I think it’s safe to say that the beginning suffers a bit from being overdone, but if you stick with it, the payoff is well worth the effort.
Other books you might like: