On the dangerous stage of medieval Scotland, one man–in an English dungeon–stands between the Scots and anarchy. Robert III, King of the Scots, is dead, and Scotland in 1406 is balanced on a knife’s edge. As he eyes the throne, King Robert’s ruthless half-brother, the Duke of Albany, has already murdered one prince and readies to kill young James Stewart, prince and heir to the crown. James flees Scotland and his murderous uncle. Captured and imprisoned by the English, he grows to be a man of contradictions, a poet yet a knight, a dreamer yet fiercely driven. Hardened by his years in the Tower of London and haunted by his brother’s brutal murder, James is determined to find some way to recover his crown and end his uncle’s misrule. But the only way may be to betray Scotland and everything he believes in.
Createspace | November 2013 | 244 pages | ISBN-10: 1493786598
A King Ensnared, the latest release from J.R. Tomlin, is the first book in a planned series about Scottish King James I. This opening novel chronicles James' life from his childhood in Scotland to his eighteen years as prisoner of English King Henry IV and then his son, King Henry V.
The novel begins in Scotland, where King Robert III's hold on power is tenuous. After Robert's death, his son and heir James is forced to flee Scotland when it is revealed that his uncle, the powerful Duke of Albany, seeks to murder James and take the throne for himself. Before reaching safety in France, however, James is taken prisoner by the English and sent to the Tower of London. As the Duke of Albany solidifies his hold on Scotland, James spends his time in the Tower being tutored and practicing arms with other political prisoners. Just prior to his death, King Henry IV presses his son, Henry of Monmouth, to release James. While Henry agrees to his father's dying request, he ultimately decides not to release James unless the Scottish monarch agrees to certain conditions. Not willing to compromise himself or his nation, James refuses Henry. It soon becomes apparent to James, however, that if he ever hopes to win his freedom he may have no choice but to capitulate to Henry's demands.
While I love to read about Scottish history, I confess that I knew next to nothing about James I or the period in which he lived prior to reading this novel. It is obvious while reading through A King Ensnared that J.R. Tomlin did a significant amount of research for it. As such, A King Ensnared provided me with some much needed insight into both Scottish and English history during the early 15th century. Although I felt the early part of the novel moved slowly, once Henry V assumed the English throne and began to interact more frequently with James the story became more interesting. While billed as a historical novel about Scotland, very little of the book actually takes place in Scotland given James spends the bulk of the story as a prisoner of the English. As as result, much of the background history conveyed is actually English, albeit told from the perspective of a Scotsman. Given the story is told from James' viewpoint, Henry V, who is often portrayed in a favourable light, doesn't come across quite so positively. I enjoyed seeing Henry V through James' eyes but must admit that I found Henry V to be the more intriguing of the two characters. Without giving away the ending, it is apparent that the next installment in the series will see James' return to Scotland, and I'm curious to see how he handles being back in his homeland.
At a little over two hundred pages, A King Ensnared is a relatively quick read. Readers interested in Scottish history, or the history of Scottish monarchs might want to check this one out.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars Source: I received a copy of the novel from the author as part of her virtual book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.
A King Ensnared is currently on tour. Click here to check out the tour schedule.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tomlin is the author of five historical novels: A King Ensnared,
Freedom’s Sword, A Kingdom’s Cost, Countenance of War, and Not for
Glory. She has also co-authored several fantasies with C. R. Daems:
Blood Duty, Talon of the Unnamed Goddess, The Shadow Ryana, The Shadow
Gypsy, and Women of Power.
She has close ties with
Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial
time in Edinburgh whilst growing up. Her historical novels are set in
Scotland. You can trace her love of that nation to the stories of the
Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read her when she was small
and to her hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills
have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun. Later, her writing was
influenced by the work of authors such as Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo
and of G.R.R. Tolkien.
For more information visit J.R. Tomlin’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
I'm pleased to host an interview with historical novelist J.R. Tomlin today. J.R. is the author of the recently released, A King Ensnared, and is currently touring the blogosphere to promote it. Check out the tour page on Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours to visits J.R. Tomlin's other blog stops. Also, be sure to check back here tomorrow for my review of A King Ensnared.
(1) Scotland, while a popular setting for historical romance novels, is not a particularly common setting in mainstream historical fiction. What is it about Scotland that draws you to writing novels about its history?
It is partially that because I spent much of my childhood in Edinburgh, I have a particular love for the nation. Also, Scotland simply has a fascinating history. Scotland has spent much of its history struggling against attempted conquests by a larger neighbor. A struggle like that makes for a cast of characters that is a pleasure to write about. And people seem to have acquired this very romanticized picture of Scotland, so I try to write about something a little closer to the reality.
(2) Your latest novel, A King Ensnared, is about James Stewart, Scottish King Robert III's heir. During the course of researching for the book, what was the most interesting or surprising thing you discovered about James or the time period in which he lived?
I was surprised at the way James grew on me. Obviously, I knew what he did and what happened to him in the course of the story. What I didn't know was the extent to which I would grow to respect the struggle he put up to regain his freedom and protect the right of Scotland to its independence.
(3) Have you always wanted to be a writer? Was historical fiction always the genre you wanted to write in?
My first love was poetry. I wrote my first poem, the first that I remember anyway, when I was eight years old and I've written ever since, happily not poetry since I'm quite bad at poetry. I was distressed to discover that fact because I do love poetry. Just not my own.
I grew up reading historical fiction, so I suppose I did always want to write it. I started a novel with the characters in my Black Douglas Trilogy when I was in high school (back in the dark ages). It took more twenty-five years to get back to it and write the first book.
(4) As an author of historical fiction that takes place in a less common setting, what other historical figures or time periods do you wish received more attention from writers?
Medieval Italy is a great location for stories. The Medicis and the Borgias immediately come to mind of course, but there was a huge range of people from fanatics like Savonarola to the many great artists. I'd love to read about the Hundred Years War from the French side rather than the English, as well.
(5) Who are your favourite writers? What is it about their work that you most admire?
Nigel Tranter is one of my favorite historical fiction authors, but I love the classics authors such as Alexandre Dumas, père, and Victor Hugo. They all draw you into their world which is the first thing an author has to do. Drawing the reader into a historical setting so that they feel like they are there is what I look for and try to emulate in my own writing.
(6) Have you started work on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on the sequel to A King Ensnared. It takes up just after the death of England's Henry V as King James maneuvers politically to return to rule Scotland with his new bride and outmaneuvers, at least for a while, his many enemies at home.
(7) If you could invite three historical figures to dinner, who would you invite and why?
There is no question at all I would invite the main characters in my own novels. I would love to actually meet them and find out how close I came or if I totally missed. Sir James Douglas, King Robert the Bruce, and King James I of Scotland. That would make for some great dinnertime conversation.
Many thanks to J.R. Tomlin for taking the time to answer my questions!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. R. Tomlin is the author of five historical novels: A King Ensnared, Freedom’s Sword, A Kingdom’s Cost, Countenance of War, and Not for Glory. She has also co-authored several fantasies with C. R. Daems: Blood Duty, Talon of the Unnamed Goddess, The Shadow Ryana, The Shadow Gypsy, and Women of Power.
She has close ties with Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial time in Edinburgh whilst growing up. Her historical novels are set in Scotland. You can trace her love of that nation to the stories of the Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read her when she was small and to her hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun. Later, her writing was influenced by the work of authors such as Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo and of G.R.R. Tolkien.
For more information visit J.R. Tomlin’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
During the second half of the 16th century, a wealthy widow by the name of Doña Antonia Nissim is arrested and charged with being a secret Jew. The punishment? Death by burning. Enter Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman “Schindler,” and the most celebrated sultan in all of Turkish history. With the help of the Sultan, the widow and her children manage their escape to Istanbul. Life is seemingly idyllic for the family in their new home, that is, until the Sultan’s son meets and falls in love with Tamar, Doña Antonia’s beautiful and free-spirited granddaughter. A quiet love affair ensues until one day, the girl vanishes. Over four centuries later, thirty-two year old Selim Osman, a playboy prince with a thriving real estate empire, is suddenly diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Abandoning the mother of his unborn child, he vanishes from Istanbul without an explanation. In a Manhattan hospital, he meets Hannah, a talented artist and the daughter of a French Holocaust survivor. As their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, readers are taken back to Nazi-occupied Paris, and to a sea-side village in the Holy Land where a world of secrets is illuminated. Theirs is a love that has been dormant for centuries, spanning continents, generations, oceans, and religions. Bound by a debt that has lingered through time, they must right the wrongs of the past if they’re ever to break the shackles of their future.
Devon House Press | February 2013 | 332 pages (paperback) | ISBN-10: 061558361X
Nicole Dweck's debut novel, The Debt of Tamar, spans four centuries and three continents. The story begins in 16th century Portugal, where thousands of Jews are being forced from their homes and livelihoods. While many are killed, some, including wealthy widow Dona Antonia Nissam, her daughter Reyna, and nephew José, are able to escape to Istanbul in the Ottoman Empire, which under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent is religiously tolerant. Life in Istanbul proves to be good for José, whose intelligence draws him to the attention of Suleiman's son and heir, Selim, who arranges to have José's daughter, Tamar, raised in the harem. Once in the harem, Tamar befriends Selim's son Murat, and over time the two fall in love and vow to marry. When Tamar mysteriously vanishes without a trace, Murat falls into a deep melancholy from which he is unable to recover.
After the disappearance of Tamar, the novel's setting shifts to present day Istanbul, where Selim Osman, grandson of the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, is going through the motions of life while shouldering immense guilt and regret. When he is diagnosed with an almost certainly fatal disease, Selim leaves Istanbul behind and heads to Manhattan for experimental treatment. While in the hospital, Selim meets Hannah, the daughter of Selim's roommate, a French Holocaust survivor named Davide. As Selim and Hannah get to know one another, the story flashes back to Davide's earlier life and history, a history that ties Hannah to Selim in ways neither of them could have imagined.
The Debt of Tamar is a beautifully told tale. Dweck's prose is lyrical, and her descriptions rich and full of vivid detail. The novel's principal setting, Istanbul, is compelling, especially during the parts of the narrative set in the past. While the story itself is an interesting one, the way in which it is told, in three distinct parts (José and Tamar's narrative, Selim's narrative, and Davide's flashbacks), failed to work for me. While each part of narrative connects to the others in ways that are clearly conveyed to the reader, these connections aren't emphasized strongly enough to make the novel feel like one complete story rather than three separate ones. This is most pronounced when the setting of the novel shifts from the past to present day, as the modern day storyline makes only a few references to the events of José and Tamar's narrative. The novel's principal characters are appealing on the surface, but aren't fleshed out well enough for the reader to understand some of the motivations behind their actions. This lack of depth is especially evident when it comes to José, whose behaviour in certain instances is never adequately explained.
Despite the fact that I didn't enjoy The Debt of Tamar as much as I had hoped I would, I do feel the novel is worth reading. I certainly enjoyed Dweck's prose and choice of settings, and because of this would not hesitate to read more from her.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars Source: I received a copy of this novel as part of Nicole Dweck's Virtual Book Tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Debt of Tamar is currently on tour! Click here to check out the tour schedule.
About the Author
Nicole Dweck is a writer whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country. As a descendant of Sephardic (Spanish) refugees who escaped the Inquisition and settled on Ottoman territory, Dweck has always been interested in Sephardic history and the plight of refugees during the Spanish Inquisition. The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was a two-time finalist in the UK’s Cinnamon Press Novel Award Competition. It has also received an honorable award mention in the category of Mainstream/Literary Fiction from Writers Digest and was the highest rated book for two weeks running on the Harper Collin’s “Authonomy” website. It has claimed a #1 Bestseller spot in the Amazon Kindle Middle East Fiction category, a #1 Bestseller spot in Amazon Kindle Jewish Fiction category, and has been included as one of the “Hot 100″ Kindle bestsellers in the category of Historical Fiction.
Dweck holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Global Studies with a focus on Middle East Affairs (NYU) . Her non-fiction articles have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including The New York Observer and Haute Living Magazine.
She lives in New York City with her husband and son.
The new novel The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau, sends readers on a page-turning historical quest. Set in Henry VIII's England, the story is driven by plot twists, deceptions, spiritual searching and romantic tension. Readers fall in love with protagonist Joanna Stafford, a Catholic novice forced to leave her priory and find her answers. "She is strong and determined and very likable," says one blogger. "Exhilarating," says Good Housekeeping, and "The novel is riveting and provides fascinating insight into into the lives of displaced nuns and priests, with fully realized characters," says RT Book Reviews. Launching in paperback on March 18 and available in ebook too.
Between the crown and the cross stands one woman...
IN 1538, ENGLAND is in the midst of bloody power struggles that threaten to tear the country apart. Aristocrat-turned-novice Joanna Stafford knows what lies inside the kingís torture rooms and risks imprisonment when she is caught up in an international plot targeting the king. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers.
Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII, as well as the future of Christendom, are in her handsóhands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies...
Praise for The Chalice
"A brilliant and gripping page-turner. A fascinating blend of politics, religion, mysticism and personal turmoil. Well-researched and filled with sumptuous detail, it follows Joanna's early life from Bilyeau's debut novel, The Crown, but this book easily stands on its own. Bilyeau fills in the blanks from her earlier work while leaving the reader both wanting to read the first book and eagerly awaiting the next. This is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction." - Free Lance-Star
"English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in Nancy Bilyeau's richly detailed sequel to The Crown." - Parade
"The novel is riveting, and provides fascinating insight into the lives of displaced nuns and priests during the tumultuous Tudor period. Bilyeau creates fully realized characters, with complex actions and emotions, driving the machinations of these historic personages." - RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
"The human and political battles of Henry VIII's reformation are brought to exhilarating life in The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau." - Good Housekeeping UK, April 2014
"Bilyeau sends her plucky former novice back into the intrigue-laden court of Henry VIII." - Entertainment Weekly
"Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna's character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the readerís interest on every page . . . history and supernatural mysticism combine in this compelling thriller." - Historical Novel Society
"Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse." - S.J. Parris, author of 'Heresy,' 'Prophecy' and 'Sacrilege'
"[A] layered book of historical suspense." - Kirkus Reviews
"The Chalice is an engrossing mix of the complicated politics of the Reformation with the magical elements of the Dominican order, and Joanna--fiery, passionate, determined to honor what she thinks God wants her to do--is a fascinating character. Fans of historical mysteries, Tudor politics and supernatural fiction will all be pleased by the broad scope, quick-moving plot and historical integrity of Bilyeau's second novel." - Shelf Awareness
Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay "Zenobia" placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and "Loving Marys" reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013.
Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy's ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough's founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.
Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
Bram Stoker, business manager for London’s Lyceum Theatre, always expects the supernatural to be lurking around the corner. But investigating the murder of a cast member might be enough to make even him lose his head…
1881. When the star and owner of the Lyceum, Mr. Henry Irving, is poisoned on Hamlet’s opening night, it’s up to stage manager Harry Rivers to make sure the show goes on. Fortunately for Harry, Mr. Irving is able to pull through and walk the boards as planned. But when his understudy is killed the very next day, Harry’s boss, Bram Stoker, becomes convinced that foul play is afoot.
Mr. Irving has a list of enemies longer than a Shakespearean soliloquy, any of whom would have been happy for the curtain never to rise. It soon becomes clear that nefarious, possibly magical, methods are being employed to shut the play down. With more cast and crew members falling victim to the increasingly dangerous accidents on set, it’s up to Harry and Stoker to figure out which of Irving’s critics has a voodoo vendetta…
Set in the heart of London in 1881, Cursed in the Act is the first novel in Raymond Buckland’s Bram Stoker mystery series. The book opens at the famed Lyceum Theatre on the opening night of a new production of Hamlet. This event is marred by the non-fatal poisoning of the play’s star, famed actor Henry Irving. Unwell and not his usual commanding self, Irving nevertheless takes the stage. The tragic death of Irving’s understudy the following day, however, leaves the Lyceum’s business manager, Bram Stoker, suspecting foul play. These events lead Stoker immediately to assign his stage manager, Harry Rivers, to investigate further.
Told from Harry Rivers’ perspective, Cursed in the Act is fast-moving and intriguing. Each of the principal characters is engaging, and provides a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on late 19th-century theatre life. Buckland does a good job of bringing Bram Stoker to life and effectively conveys some of his more eccentric beliefs, such as those in the occult. The story’s mystery is compelling, taking the reader to various London theatres, and offers up a diverse group of characters, many of whom have ample motive for wanting to harm the cast and crew of the Lyceum. The only aspect of this novel that didn’t work for me was the inclusion of the practice of voodoo. Although the component of the narrative concerning voodoo was interesting in and of itself, it seemed out of place alongside the rest of the storyline.
Overall, Cursed in the Act is an enjoyable novel, and one that fans of cozy mysteries should find appealing. I look forward to reading the next installment of Harry Rivers’ and Bram Stoker’s adventures.
Note: This review was originally published in the February 2014 edition (Issue 67) of the Historical Novels Review. I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The recent release of The Frost of Springtime, by debut author Rachel L. Demeter, transports readers to the war torn streets of nineteenth century Paris. Driven by paradoxical characters, steamy encounters, and a compelling storyline, it’s a bittersweet tale of revolution, redemption, and the healing power of love. Described as “poignant,” emotionally devastating,” and “beautiful,” The Frost of Springtime is sure to please historical and romance readers alike. Available now in both eBook and paperback. Currently Amazon Prime members can read the Kindle edition for free!
Publication Date: February 14, 2014
Black Lyon Publishing
Formats: Paperback, Kindle eBook
Genre: Historical Romance/Historical Fiction
To rescue her was to rescue his own soul.
On a cold Parisian night, Vicomte Aleksender de Lefèvre forges an everlasting bond with a broken girl during her darkest hour, rescuing her from a life of abuse and misery. Tormented by his own demons, he finds his first bit of solace in sheltering little Sofia Rose.
But when Aleksender is drawn away by the Franco-Prussian war, the seasons pass. And in that long year, Sofia matures into a stunning young woman—a dancer with an understanding of devotion and redemption far surpassing her age.
Alongside his closest friend, Aleksender returns home to find that “home” is gone, replaced by revolution, bloodshed, betrayal—and a love always out of reach. Scarred inside and out, he’s thrust into a world of sensuality and violence—a world in which all his hours have now grown dark, and where only Sofia might bring an end to the winter in his heart.
Inspired by the 1871 Paris Commune, The Frost of Springtime is a poignant tale of revolution, redemption, and the healing power of love.
Read an Excerpt
The heat of their bodies mingled as one. With each breath, Aleksender drank in the sweet essence of his beloved ward. His mind swam with unorthodox visions and desires. He inclined his head, lost to the power of her nearness, entranced by everything that was Sofia.
"Alek, my Alek"
Each word infused Aleksender with a delicious and undeniable warmth. Intoxicated by roses and wintertime, he found it difficult to speak, difficult to think. Breathless, he swallowed and met the haunting depths of her eyes.
"Please," she dreamily murmured, "I want you to kiss me again"
“I am astonished at this being Rachel L. Demeter’s debut work, for in form and style, it is very much a tour de force. A riveting story of love and courage in the aftermath of a brutal war, the author brilliantly juxtaposes the hazing splendor of French nobility and the impassioned elegance of two people in love, despite all the world’s oppositions. The title is, in a sense, a representation of change: the beginning of a new spring with La Belle Époque and the transition into a new era, for the world and our protagonists. The wistful loveliness of the setting paints a picture of a crying France, blending in with the dynamic romance perfectly. Or rather, it does not merely blend in the background as much as glitters like the brightest jewel, shining with a vibrancy that makes one want to relieve the halcyon days of grand old Paris. I was captivated by the setting, the lush writing of Rachel L. Demeter, and the subtle expressiveness of the characters, which all compelled me to research more of the historical background, of the 1871 Paris Commune, through which this story is made more infinitely dearer.” – Buried Under Romance
“We are in awe. The Frost of Springtime is a MUST HAVE! Despite that we loved the true facts, we fell instantly in love with the story. It was dark, emotionally devastating, and sensual. The innocence between the two main characters was beautiful and their love grew so strong throughout the story with such grace. One of us even cried while reading The Frost of Springtime. We loved the cover, we loved the writing style, and we adored the characters. We fell in love, really hard.” – Divas Book Blog
“This novel is intricately detailed and wonderfully written! Opening with a heartbreaking scene, I was immediately drawn to the story of Aleksender and his Sofia. Of course, as the story moved on, other enchanting characters helped to make this poignant book complete. The author has blended historical facts with fiction skillfully, and presented several narratives flawlessly. It’s beautiful! I loved it!” – Romancebookworm’s Reviews
“I absolutely love this book. The Frost of Springtime shows how love and tragedy go hand in hand and that love can actually be more powerful than anything. I have found that most books do not hit this point right on the nail like this one does. It’s a Historical Romance and let me just tell you this is one book I couldn’t put down.” – Magic Within The Pages
“WOW!! The Frost of Springtime is a powerful, epic love story unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The emotional and visual/sensory depth is astounding. I felt Aleksender and Sofia’s connection from beginning to end. Aleksender’s path to healing was at times breathtaking and heartbreaking. This is a hero who loves his woman with every last breath, every fiber of his being… and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for her. AMAZING cast of secondary characters as well… a ‘villain’ who actually leaves you morally torn! Beautifully written (loved the vivid imagery and descriptions!), dark, unusual, rich with history, epic scope, and a soul deep love that only comes once in a lifetime… Brava!!!” – Sivonna, an advanced reader
Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and high school sweetheart of ten years. She enjoys writing dark, edgy romances that challenge the reader's emotions and examine the redeeming power of love. Imagining stories and characters has been Rachel's passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mom would jot them down for her. She has a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances.
Whether sculpting the protagonist or antagonist, she always ensures that every character is given a soul. Rachel strives to intricately blend elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some common themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.
Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.
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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.
Penguin Canada | March 4, 2014 | ISBN: 9780143188735
Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell is the first novel in what promises to be an exciting new fantasy series. Set in a vividly imagined medieval-like world, Traitor's Blade follows Falcio Val Mond and his companions Kest and Brasti, former King's magistrates known as Greatcoats, after the death of their King and the disbanding of their order. Seemingly adrift in a world where the reputation of the once glorious Greatcoats has been ruined, Falcio, Kest and Brasti struggle to find meaningful employment and to maintain their values and ideals in a world that believes them to be traitors. Hired as caravan guards by a mysterious noblewoman, the men find themselves in the notoriously corrupt city of Rijou, a place Falcio had hoped to never see again. While in Rijou, the men come to the attention of its dangerous Duke when they seek to protect a young orphan girl who the Duke is intent on killing. When Falcio decides to do whatever it takes to keep the girl alive even if it means he has to forfeit his own life, he places himself, Kest and Brasti right in the middle of a dangerous political plot led by a group of coldly calculating and power-hungry nobles. What follows is a fast-paced, riveting tale that fans of the fantasy genre are sure to enjoy.
Traitor's Blade is the type of book that readers can easily lose themselves in. In Falcio Val Mond, de Castell has created a strong, sympathetic and immensely likeable hero, one who never takes the easy way out and who is willing to fight for what he believes in, no matter the consequences. Falcio's relationship with Kest and Brasti is one of the highlights of the book. Through their often humorous banter it is apparent that the three men respect one another and their abilities, and that the trust they have for each other is absolute. I also enjoyed Falcio, Kest and Brasti's interactions with the novel's numerous secondary figures, many of whom are just as memorable as they are. In addition to having a well-drawn and compelling cast of characters, Traitor's Blade is set in an intriguing and well-developed world. Even though the system of justice that was administered by the Greatcoats was eliminated when the order was disbanded, I enjoyed learning about what it once was as it allowed me to understand why Falcio, Kest and Brasti think it worth fighting for. While extensive battle scenes, which, in the case of this novel usually involve sword fighting, aren't normally my thing, de Castell has crafted his in such a way as to make them appealing even to readers who normally have little interest in them.
An immensely enjoyable novel, I highly recommend Traitor's Blade to fans of fantasy fiction. I can't wait to read what happens next!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.