Title: Traitor’s blade
Author: Sebastian de Castell
Published: 2014 Jo Fletcher Books
Remember all reviews are my personal opinion, different people like different books, it is not a reflection of you and your choices. The world is wonderfully diverse and it would be dull if we all loved the same things
Traitor’s blade by Sabastian de Castell is a non-stop, jam-packed with adventure, dark-humoured fantasy novel. it is filled to the brim with swashbuckling action, political intrigue with heaps of witty banter and even some magic.
It is a page turner from the start and kept me engaged through it’s many twists and turns.
Our Tale follows the journey of three Greatcoats seeking to save their country of Tristia from crumbling under the rule of the Dukes.
The Greatcoats were named for the long leather coats they wear with highly protective boning panels and seemingly endless amounts of pockets that can store all manner of items.
They were once a group of travelling Magistrates for the King. Trained in duelling in order to protect and uphold the King’s law, travelling the land to settle disputes and dispense judgement on the kings behalf.
They were fair, just and revered for their fighting skills and respected across Tristia. Until, the death of the King. The Dukes armies arrived to over through the king and the Greatcoats stepped aside, resulting in the king’s death and the Greatcoasts being branded traitors.
Told from the perspective of the First Cantor of the Greatcoats Falcio val Mond, we follow him and two of his companions as they seek to fulfil the King’s final wishes, foil the Dukes’ schemes and return the Greatcoats to Tristia.
For Falcio this is a personal mission, known as ‘The King’s Heart’ he was a close friend of the King and helped with the formation of the Greatcoats.As the story is told from his perspective we get the current goings on as well as his memories which greatly adds to the richness of the worlds.
Falcio has made mistakes, he is complex balancing a range of emotions all at once within his internal monologues.
Falcio is joined by Kest, ‘The King’s Sword’, is Falcio’s childhood friend and a skilled swordsman who’s stoic nature makes him a powerful grounding force within the trio.
Brasti ‘The King’s Arrow’ is a sassy talking Archer who sees himself as a ladies man and manages successfully to talk Falcio into all kinds of trouble. All three are complete arses, they have idiotic moments and frustrating moments but these are complimented with them being brave and lovable and funny, all of which makes them very real and engaging.
I really did love this book, the humour was varied filled with back and fourth banter between the characters as well as having deep emotional moments. The story line was fun and engaging and I was keen to learn more about the Greatcoat’s history as well as following the current adventure.
This is definitely an Adult fantasy, it opens on a discussion of herbal remedies to improve male prowess in the bedroom and I would warn those who need it that there are scenes of rape, violence, and animal cruelty. If you are not happy reading these in context this book is not for you.
But why if i enjoyed the book so much did I only give it a 3.5 star rating when it is clearly should have been a 5 star book?
Honestly, it was down to the inclusion of one scene in the book. I felt the scene was completely unnecessary to the plot, it conformed to tropes I really detest in epic fantasy (discussed below in the spoiler section). It put our main character in a ridiculous position that wasn’t necessary to move the plot forward. It occurs very late on in the story and was extremely disappointing as i had adored the book before that scene and adored the rest of the novel afterwards. It just left a bad taste in the mouth in the middle of an original and highly readable book. Despite this, I was hooked by the characters and I have already purchase the second in the series and look forward diving back in to the world of the Greatcoats to find out where their journey will take them.
“Poets and Minstrels see the whole picture, but people like me live their whole lives inside one or two cleverly worded lines and never know what they really mean”
The scene in question I took such a dislike to that it knocked my rating down was a completely nonchalant attitude to male rape. While, the rape and murder of Falcio’s wife had played a role in his drive and backstory it was treated in a sensitive way. This scene, however, was rape of Falcio himself and it was out of place and unnecessary for the progression of either the character or the story-line.
I may be alone in thinking ‘No’ means ‘No’. Falcio on his journey, still grieving for his wife, encounters a ‘sister’ of an mystic order that specialises in sex to cure all ills (OK this is a trope – very Monty Python esq even), she tends to Falcio’s various battle wounds and then takes it upon herself to ‘heal his soul’ by straddling him. OK this is cheesy, and it really did just make me groan until Falcio said No multiple times. He continued to say no while the ‘sister’ tied him down and submits to this magical healing of the ‘darkness in his heart’. What makes it worse is that Falcio is completely OK with this and feels terrifically better forgetting everything that had driven his anger.
This has so much wrong with it that I nearly didn’t finish the book! It angered me as it was sloppy, especially compared to the rest of the book. it is also never mentioned again in the book and for me really was not needed. The scene was unnecessary, there are plenty of other way move Falcio’s emotional story onward with more gravitas and emotional investment. Therefore, despite loving everything other part of the book I couldn’t give it the 5 stars the rest of the book deserved.