Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell


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

My Review

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. 

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