Series: Greatcoats #1
Published by Penguin Canada on March 4, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that's exactly what's happening...
Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world. A carefully orchestrated series of murders that began with the overthrow of an idealistic young king will end with the death of an orphaned girl and the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to foil the conspiracy, save the girl, and reunite the Greatcoats, they'll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug, and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor's blade.
Disclosure:I received this book for free from NetGalley, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I hate the first cover, but I love the one on the rerelease (that’s the one pictured above). I think the first one is boring and plain, and the imagery that is there is kind of cheesy. However, I do like the second one much better–I love the symbolism of the blade, the map, and the coins, and I think it’s much more unique. I do think it looks a little younger, which can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
Even though I had heard some buzz about this book being an edge-of-your-seat, dashing and daring adventure in a fantastically-built fantasy world, for some reason I was pretty hesitant to dive into this one. (I think because I can be really picky about fantasy novels, even though I love them, which makes me tentative to try new fantasy series.) It’s safe to say I was unexpectedly blown away by this book, though, and I will definitely be following up with the rest of the series when the time comes.
One of the best things about this book–for me at least–was the tone of this novel. A lot of times I find medieval fantasy to have a more serious tone, but this book was light and funny. It’s witty and smart, but doesn’t feel heavy-handed or overly serious. It was this tone that reeled me in within a matter of pages. (If you’re interested in being sucked in–which you should be–you can check out an excerpt here.) Here’s the first paragraph of the novel, so you can see what I mean:
“Pretend, just for a moment, that you have attained your most deepseated desire. Not the simple, sensible one you tell your friends about, but the dream that’s so close to your heart that even as a child you hesitated to speak it out loud. Imagine, for example, that you had always yearned to be a Greatcoat, one of the legendary sword-wielding magistrates who travelled from the lowliest village to the biggest city, ensuring that any man or woman, high or low, had recourse to the King’s Laws. A protector to many–maybe even a hero to some. You feel the thick leather coat of office around your shoulders, the deceptively light weight of its internal bone plates that shield you like armour and the dozens of hidden pockets holding your tools and tricks and esoteric pills and potions. You grip the sword at your side, knowing that as a Greatcoat you’ve been taught to fight when needed, given the training to take on any man in single combat.”
I think de Castell achieves this effect in two ways 1) Falcio’s narration is charming, endearing, and cunning, which makes for an attractive and smooth-flowing read, and 2) the pacing is quick and zippy which kept me feeling engaged and hooked on finding out the next twist in the plot. Falcio’s winsome character really made the novel for me, because while he definitely has his flaws, it’s very easy to sympathize and understand him because he is completely honest and transparent in his narration.
There were some problems for me–mainly Falcio’s omniscient narration, some lacking worldbuilding, and a predictable conclusion–but I guess it ultimately became a matter of the good far outweighing the bad. Sometimes, for me, a book can be immensely enjoyable even when I really don’t like certain aspects of it, just because it’s so fun to enjoy the good parts. If you are someone who enjoys the fight scenes in Tamora Pierce’s Alanna, Beka Cooper, or Kel series or Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, I think you will definitely love this book. (It was also kind of reminiscent of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.)
Overall: it’s action-packed, it’s witty, everything moves at lightning speed, and the banter and relationships between characters pulled everything together beautifully. Sebastien de Castell did pretty much everything right in my book.
Share Your Thoughts – Leave a Comment!
Have you read Traitor’s Blade? If so, what did you think of it, and will you be continuing the series? If not, is it on your TBR list? What are some of your favourite medieval fantasy books? (I’m always looking for more recommendations, as it’s my favourite genre!)