Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Traitor's Blade
Greatcoats #1
by Sebastien de Castell
Published by Jo Fletcher Books,
6 March 2014
Paperback copy, 372 pages


The Greatcoats used to be heroes. Now they are scattered across the land, despised by the people as traitors and struggling to make their way in a hostile world. Traitor’s Blade shows the journey of Falcio, the First Cantor of the Greatcoats – a rough-but-instantly-loveable hero – and his comrades, Kest and Brasti.

I think this blurb from the back cover catches the essence of the story perfectly: 

Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world and it could see the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to unwind the conspiracy, save the girl and reunite the Greatcoats, they’ll have to do it with nothing but the tattered cloaks 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.

What we have here is an impressive debut novel set in an interesting universe, which at the end of this book still seems less than half-revealed and leaves a lot to the imagination.

Traitor’s Blade is an extremely fast-paced action-heavy fantasy story filled with strong and unpredictable characters intertwined in a plot that is even more unpredictable. This is probably what I love the most about this book: the element of surprise. Sebastien de Castell uses it a lot and very well in most of the cases, (there were a few I figured out before they were revealed - but that did not make them less delightful.) 

I really enjoy the fact that the reader at no time has much of a clear idea about where the story is going. That is probably what made Traitor’s Blade such a huge page-turner for me as I was kept in a constant itching state of not knowing what would happen next. This is a rare thing for me and I found it immensely refreshing!

Another thing I really love is how light the book felt to me despite dealing with some rather heavy stuff, as it is written in a very easy manner compared to how brutal the story is. It is no bright and happy company that fill these pages; it is rough cast formed by a harsh reality and outlined with a suitable bluntness that gives the whole affair an air of truth.

I do think there are moments that could have benefitted from a little more subtlety. Bluntness is all good and well, but I think some of the finer points of the story ended up being stated a little too obvious, instead of just letting the readers experience the message themselves.

I have seen other reviews comparing Traitor’s Blade with Joe Abercrombie, and to that, I can only concur. They evolve very much around the same themes and have an equally depressive disposition toward the world. 

Also, more explicitly, the hero Falcio reminds me a lot about Abercrombie’s Logen Ninefingers. Their stories are alike and they share the same berserker fighting mentality, which I really enjoy. And just like I loved Logen with all my heart, I am just now falling in love with this little brother of his.

My heart bled for Logen in The First Law trilogy – and it is my sincerest hope that, given time, Falcio will come to elicit the same emotions within me. That is one aspect I missed in this book; there were many sad and horrible scenes but none of them made me weep the way the really great books usually do.

The characters are strong yes, but they do need a little more depth for me to truly care about them. I trust this will come as a natural thing with the next book.

I did have a good giggle at times.

As a last thing, all I will say is that I WANT TO JOIN THE GREATCOATS!

This book was given to me by Jo Fletcher Books in exhcange for this review.


  1. About halfway through with it and so far you are right on. Not seeing the Abercombie comparisons as much, this is thus far a lighter read. But so much more humor than expected, highlighting favorite lines like crazy here.

  2. I am a bit behind with my readings, but that is hardly news for me, so your review reminds me that I need to catch up with the Greatcoats too. :)