The world isn’t a romantic stage play; it’s not all love and glory. And a swordfight isn’t always about skill or strength; sometimes – maybe even most times – it’s about who’s willing to take a blow just to make sure he delivers a worse one to his opponent.
Traitor’s Blade was one of the books published this year to which I was really looking forward to. I was excited that the book would be filled with swordfights, unusual characters and something unique that drags you right into the new world written just for readers like me. Readers thirsty for infuriating villains, those who loyally fight against them and all those things that happen on purpose or brought on by the capricious characters who know how they want the story to be told.
Jo Fletcher Books added to the excitement prior to the book’s publication with their intriguing pre-book-launch campaign. Anyone could become one of the Greatcoats! So I did, and when I was reading Traitor’s Blade I really wanted to be one of them with my double-edged Bastard sword, gauntlets with hidden blades (my own personal preference of weapons) and the Greatcoat. The Greatcoat itself reminded me of a coat worn by Van Helsing who had lots of curious items hidden in its numerous pockets – just in case something came in handy when on the road.
When Tristia was being torn apart by the self-righteous and greedy Dukes and ruled by Kings who didn’t see anything wrong with depriving people of everything, the legend of Greatcoats lived in many hearts. As much as some people loved the idea, not many of them believed that they actually existed. Bal Armidor, the travelling storyteller, tried his best to keep the legend alive, until one day a young King Paelis decided to stop the injustice and assembled his Greatcoats. They travelled everywhere to hear cases of those who sought justice and passed their judgement as King’s Magistrates.
Falcio Val Mond lost everything and all he had left was his want of revenge on those who brought sorrow into the lives of people of Tristia. People like him, who did everything they could to abide by the rules to live their lives in peace. Falcio became one of the Greatcoats – about whom he heard so many stories that fuelled his imagination when he was a boy. Nevertheless, the reign of King Paelis was short-lived and with his death ended the time of justice. Yet again Greatcoats became a legend.
Falcio, the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, together with his two friends, Kest and Brasti, stayed together after all the other Greatcoats scattered. Taking odd caravan security jobs kept them busy, however, they kept trying to fulfil the final wishes of their King. Finding King’s Charoites was like looking for a needle in a haystack or even worse, as they didn’t even know what they were, but they knew they were important to their late King. Events of one night, when they ended up being accused of the murder of one of the Lords Caravaner, triggered in motion something big. The events brought them together with unlikely allies and face-to-face with brutal adversaries.
Reading Traitor’s Blade left me breathless with the amazing swordfights, unscrupulous machinations, unexpected turns of events and the velocity of the actions. The first thing I really liked about the Greatcoats is their unbiased attitude to justice. Even though they were responsible for upholding the King’s Laws, they were not sworn to the King in a way that would make them unable to judge fairly.
The characters are very compelling. Although the Greatcoats are highly skilled fighters, who endured a lot in their service to the King and as disgraced Trattari (or Tatter-cloaks as people called them with disgust), they were very human and down to earth. The book is also full of villains whose thirst for power is overwhelming. Their canny machinations to obtain total dominance over Tristia were full of the blood of those who could pose even the slightest threat.
Duke Jillard brought Ganath Kalila, the Blood Week tradition, which once a year seized the people of Rijou with uncontrollable fear for their lives. Ganath Kalila simply meant kill or be killed. Whereas, power seeking Patriana was ready to sacrifice everyone and everything to help her cause with her very sophisticated torture methods. Also, there are lethal assassins, The Dashini, who I hope will appear in the subsequent books as I found them really intriguing.
I was utterly fascinated by the female characters in the book. The mysterious Tailor was very interesting – almost like an oracle of sorts. She knows a lot but instead of imposing her way, she lets others follow their own path. One of my other favourite characters was a remarkable little girl Aline, whose story in the book is very poignant but also uplifting.
The Greatcoats have their goals to fulfil but being tangled in the political intrigues and wars brought them to the edge where they could either withdraw or actively take part and change the world. And maybe now the Greatcoats will come together again.
Besides complex characters, the book has a gripping plot. Flashbacks do not always work well in books like Traitor’s Blade, but Sebastien de Castell made the story more engrossing this way. His writing is terrific – the book is written with vivid narration and humour. It made me laugh out loud and it made me shed an occasional tear. It dragged me right in to the world of Tristia. Traitor’s Blade is a great book and I’m already looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Author: Sebastien de Castell
Title: Traitor’s Blade
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Format: Kindle Edition
Published: March 6, 2014 (UK)
Review originally published on Fantasy-Faction website.