Series: Greatcoats #1
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on March 6, 2014 (UK) | July 15, 2014 (US)
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy
My Reviews in this series: Knight's Shadow
*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.
Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.
All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…
(LEFT: UK COVER – Jo Fletcher Books – March 6, 2014 | RIGHT: US COVER – Jo Fletcher Books / Quercus – July 15, 2014)
Let’s start this off with a little Jedi mind trick hypnotic suggestions shall we?
Traitor’s Blade is the book you are looking for, you will read Traitor’s Blade. *waves book in front of your face*
Not convinced? Alright – then I’ll just lay it all out straight for you. This book had pretty much everything I could possibly want. I was hooked from page 3 for crying out loud. How you might ask? The humor, the swashbuckling, the humor WHILE swashbuckling. As if you needed a definition here’s one anyway.
swash·buck·ler (swshbklr, swôsh-) n. 1. A flamboyant swordsman or adventurer.
Watch my feet now, see how I dance?
There was a constant flow from one scene to the next such that I never had a chance to get even remotely bored. If you’re an action oriented reader like I am this will tickle you pink. Don’t get me wrong there is still plenty of room that was given over to world building and character development and we even saw flashbacks into the past. The story is told from the perspective of Falcio Val Mond, the First Cantor of the Greatcoats (i.e. leader of the disbanded King’s magistrates that previously used to uphold the law throughout the kingdom). So when we get these flashbacks they are of his past, how he came to be a Greatcoat as well as his interactions with his now deceased king. I can freely admit that I fell more than a little bit in love with Falcio. Indeed I even told my husband one night while reading in bed and petting the gorgeous blood red cover “I think I’ve fallen in love with somebody else…and he has a longer sword than yours…and pointy-er too.” To which he promptly looked at me with a long suffering smirk and said “You’re so messed up.”
But the humor – let me share with you the scene by by page 3 had me completely roped in.
‘Let what go, pray tell?’ he said. ‘The fact that you promised me the life of a hero when you tricked me into joining the Greatcoats and instead I find myself impoverished, reviled and forced to take lowly bodyguard work for traveling merchants? Or is it the fact that we’re sitting here listening to our gracious benefactor – and I use the term loosely since he has yet to pay us a measly black copper – but that aside, we’re listening to him screw some woman for – what? The fifth time since supper? How does that fat slob even keep up? I mean–‘
‘Could be herbs,’ Kest interrupted, stretching his muscles out again with the casual grace of a dancer.
‘And what would the so-called “greatest swordsman in the world” know about herbs?’
‘An apothecary sold me a concoction a few years ago, supposed to keep your sword-arm strong even when you’re half-dead. I used it fighting off half a dozen assassins who we’re trying to kill a witness.’
‘And did it work?’ I asked.
Kest shrugged. ‘Couldn’t really tell. There were only six of them, after all, so it wasn’t much of a test. I did have a substantial erection the whole time though.’ Pg 2 – 3
But you didn’t get just one of these amazing characters – oh no my sweets we get three of them. It reminded me somewhat of The Three Musketeers – which I have loved my whole life ever since I was a child and would prance around the house terrorizing the dog and my sisters with my antics wielding a long wooden spoon or an offending turkey baster – what I’m not ashamed! The way these three characters, Falcio, Kest and Brasti interacted will immediately reel you in. They just can’t seem to stop snarking at each other and it left me with a perpetual smirk on my face.
I’m sure I dreamed of adventure, sword fighting, magic wielding fantastical creatures even when I was in the womb. So not only did I get this amazing wry humor from this trio but there was a wealth of action, swordplay and intrigue, heart break and heroism. There wasn’t as much magic as I had originally anticipated but there was just enough to still lend an edge of the fantastical to it and I didn’t feel like it needed anything more than was there. While this is sword and sorcery fiction, it’s lighter on the sorcery and heavy on the sword. But even you die hard magic fans won’t mind even a bit. To put it mildly – *hums* this book was made for me and you!
I got this, let me tell you about this one time…
Throughout Traitor’s Blade I would see hilarious little bits thrown in that I’m sure might be part of any adventurer’s life but here they are given to us in a style and method fitting to the style of the book. These snippets detail just how crazy the lives of the Greatcoats can be. Each time I came across them, which were pretty frequent, they served to hook me deeper and deeper into the story and in love with this author’s storytelling method.
The three of us invented ‘punch-pull-slap’ some time ago. One of the things you discover after you’ve been wounded enough times is that the body only really keeps track of one source of pain at a time. So, for example, if your tooth hurts and someone pokes you in the stomach, your body momentarily forgets about the tooth.
So the way this is supposed to work is like this: Brasti punches me in the face, Kest pulls the arrow out of my leg and then Brasti slaps me so hard my brain never has time to register the bolt and therefore I don’t scream at the top of my lungs.
I screamed at the top of my lungs. -pg 30
One second please – I sense a fangirl moment coming on! I feel like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music right now and literally want to sing at the top of my lungs, from a mountaintop, just how much I loved this book. Or wait picture me as a big opera singer shaking the rafters of a roof down upon the heads of the audience. Ok maybe I’m carrying on too much. I have a tendency to go overboard when I really enjoyed a book. Back to why it was so great…
Not only was it humorous but Traitor’s Blade was heart-wrenching. As I moved through it gobbling up pages like a crazed junkie on a total book high – all of a sudden the author showed me that he could not only be darkly funny but he could twist and wrench my heart and poke me with ouchie ouchie things beside.
But how did he DO that? Why did do that!? To taste the elixir of my tears!? He was pulling out all the stops. Excellent world building, evil nobility – I gotta give it to him he can write some nasty villains. The setting is a kingdom that has five years past lost their king. The only good king in over a hundred years who cared for his people down to the lowest serf. But the nobles would have none of that. I doubt there was one good noble depicted in this book. The depths of depravity that these people went to just curdles your stomach. I’m a firm believer in if it can be imagined it can happen. Which makes me cringe all the more. Don’t be scared though this acts as the perfect counter balance to the rest of the narrative.
So, then when my heart strings and the power of my righteous anger were done being toyed with, at any given time another marvelous thing would be thrown at me like assassins or fey horses or swordplay used to have conversation, or or or FISTICUFFS!! That’s right baby you haven’t seen fisticuffs til you’ve seen these fisticuffs. In fact I’d love to pepper this entire review to bursting with quotes so that you can’t help but be tempted to read it but then that might spoil your fun. And that wouldn’t be very nice of me. So to sum up…
Everything and the kitchen sink!
Swordfighting, archery (come on who doesn’t love a good bit of archery?) assassins, heroes in disgrace, humor, berserker mode, amazing world building, fey horses, hidden jewels (wink wink, nudge nudge), heart break, revenge, fisticuffs, ass kickery, snark, Saints with names like “Saint Zaghev-who-sings-for-tears” and “Saint Caveil-whose-blade-cuts-water, the bloody-faced Saint of Swords” and so much more! Alright I’ll stop now…
So do you want to learn the first rule of the sword that Traitor’s Blade will teach you?
‘The first rule of the sword is -‘
‘-put the pointy end into the other man.’ – pg 25
Have a peek at my reading progress – I have few more choice quotes that I pulled that will show you some more examples of the awesome humor. Or skip it and just read the gosh damn book yourself why don’t you? Alright I’ll calm down – just smack me a little if I’m getting out of hand ok?
I can go a bit fangirl sometimes and will tweet crazy things at authors. Sebastien was such a sport about responding to my craziness! He must not have been too scared off though – he agreed to an interview with me (oh boy does he not know what he’s gotten himself into. So be sure to watch out for that interview in the coming weeks!)
— Sebastien de Castell (@decastell) June 14, 2014
@decastell it went as I pet the book “I think I’ve fallen in love with someone else, & he has a longer sword than you & pointy-er too”
— Tabitha (@Pabkins) June 14, 2014
@Pabkins Excellent – what I was missing in my life was a cadre of angry husbands out to beat me senseless..
— Sebastien de Castell (@decastell) June 14, 2014