Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell

June 23, 2014 5 stars, Book Review 53 ★★★★★

Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De CastellTraitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell
Series: Greatcoats #1
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on March 6, 2014 (UK) | July 15, 2014 (US)
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy
Pages: 370
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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…


Traitors Blade covers

 (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.


Kest nodded.

‘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?

Traitors Blade reading progress

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!)

Stalk me!

Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
Stalk me!

Latest posts by Tabitha (Pabkins) (see all)

53 Responses to “Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell”

  1. Rhissanna

    See…now I’m intrigued. Very, very intrigued. I’d point out that I’m trying to co-write one of these (a snappy swordsman, a usurper, and a clueless blonde harlot) with someone and this looks like just the flavour of book I need. Thank you for the heads-up!

    Now, about those herbs….
    Rhissanna recently posted…World Doll DayMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

      He really is a good sport. I can’t wait to see how our interview turns out!

      Really really you’re going to read it!? Yes yes please. Seriously you won’t regret it. I spent over an hour gong all fan girl over this with my Mogsy. She said like a month ago “save this for when you need a pick me me up” so I did and wow now I pity any book that followed it.
      Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De CastellMy Profile

  2. Dragana

    The Traitor’s Blade is next on my reading list as soon as I finish The Mirror Empire and I am now even more excited to read it. Love the examples of humor you posted and everything else. I’m looking forward to that interview!

  3. Wendell

    Glad to see someone else has discovered this book. 🙂 Like you, I was drawn in from the beginning by the fun factor. It is just a fun book to read, even though there are some serious themese. After finishing it, I was sad there wasn’t another Greatcoats book to immediately pick up and start, and I really don’t feel that way about novels much anymore. Can’t wait to read the interview!
    Wendell recently posted…SEVEN FORGES SHORT STORIESMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

      If you like darker fantasy but need some with some great humor and extra kick to keep you from falling down into the pits of grimdark despair then this is definitely the book you need to read. I know already that I will be flailing over this book for years to come.

      #chants do it do it, read it, love it
      Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De CastellMy Profile

  4. Jessie H.

    ZOMG! I need this book! Because of you, I ordered the UK edition from The Book Depository because it will get here faster than waiting to get it on the US release date. Your review has made me even more excited for it! Haha! Nice jedi mind trick! I believe you can count me as one of the ones it worked on.
    Jessie H. recently posted…Shadow and Bone ReviewMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      You did! Really! Haha – well it is less then a month away from U.S. release. It is totally worth splurging at The Book Depository for. Have you bought through them before? I haven’t. How fast do they ship!?

      Yes the power of my Jedi Mind trick and Singing like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music worked. ZOINK you are my minion now *wink*
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De CastellMy Profile

      • Jessie H.

        I have! I have this thing where I love a lot of UK covers more than the US one (Hello, Brandon Sanderson’s UK covers!), so I buy through them quite a bit. Since the books ship from the UK, it takes about 8 business days after it has shipped to get to me and I live in the Chicago suburbs.
        Jessie H. recently posted…Shadow and Bone ReviewMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes – normally I don’t use the popular slang – but I was seriously close to putting in here “ALL THE FEELS!!!” haha.

      You are going to love it…hard core love it – then we can go spastic and fan girl over it together…and be in torment together waiting for the next one!

      He is going to give me an interview!!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De CastellMy Profile

  5. Mogsy

    DeCastell is HILARIOUS. Earlier in the year when the book was released in the UK and Canada he and a few bloggers were in this EPIC sword puns battle over Twitter, I almost keeled over with laughter.

    I’m SO glad you liked this book! I’ve been trying to push it on everyone I know!
    Mogsy recently posted…Here we are!My Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Oh man I would have loved to see that – I wish someone would have blogged it. I’m going to keep my twitter comments in my reviews from now on if I’m not too lazy to remember to do it. Cause finding twitter convos is impossible – heck this one was like what a week ago and it was hell just finding it!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De CastellMy Profile

  6. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Tabitha. You may already know this b/c I tweeted it at you (I don’t know what you check first–blog or social media), but I just pretty much one-clicked this. “Pretty much” b/c there’s currently not a kindle version available, AND I had to order it through a 3rd party vendor, b/c that’s the only way I could get my grabby hands on it, but I didn’t care, b/c I WANT IT. “Could be herbs.” “Not much of a test.” Bahahaha. Best review EVER, dollface!
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: Chasers of the Wind by Alexey PehovMy Profile

  7. BookaholicCat

    This book sounds sooooo gooooood I need to use many “Os” to describe how good it sounds. I want the audiobook of this book… but there isn’t!! *cries*
    Amazon doesn’t have it on Kindle format, but Kobo has it… Another book you made me buy… My credit card doesn’t like you, but my bank adores you.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: Chulo by Joan CrisolMy Profile

  8. Megan (Adrift on Vulcan)

    Haha! Love how you started out this review! But damn if this doesn’t sound amazing. I’m all for epic fantasy novels, so this one’s right up my alley, and it isn’t often that I come across a fantasy with actual, laugh-out-loud humor. While I love my dark and gruesome books, sometimes it’s nice to have a little comedy added in.

    YES for loads of action! And omg, that quote. I can’t believe it was only on p. 2-3. Can I just say that I’m already a little in love with Kest? His snarkitude is going to have me snorting all through the book. And now I see that we’re going to have two more awesomely funny characters? TOTAL WIN.

    Oh, I can just tell that this book and I will get along just fine. I love that there are both funny and emotional scenes in the story — kind of reminds me of Harry Potter, my favorite series ever. There’s so much humor, but the books can get so dark at the same time. Just love it. So yup, I think it’s safe to say that I’ll definitely be giving this book a go sometime in the future. I hadn’t heard of it before now, so thanks for putting it on my radar, Tabitha! And wonderful review, of course. 🙂
    Megan (Adrift on Vulcan) recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Cover TrendsMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      You know I wouldn’t even consider this an epic fantasy. Epic fantasy to me always has a heavier feel. This to me is like action adventure / sword and sorcery (lighter on the sorcery). So yes the humor helps keep things lighter which is so key here!

      I love some dark and gruesome to but find its the ones that make me laugh and smile that stay in my heart.

      YES PAGE 2! Can you believe it? And it only gets freaking better!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Fan Art Up! (11) – A Barricade in Hell & Tough Traveling – Minions!My Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Dude come over to the dark side – err the adult side! You won’t regret it. This has something that YA can never achieve due to it’s younger characters something you can relate to on a whole new level – someone having lived their life and dealing with it’s consequences instead of just essentially starting out their life.

      Don’t get me wrong I adore YA fantasy too hence why I still read so much of it. But Adult SFF just calls to my soul. Plus this is freaking hilarious! You can’t not read it!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Fan Art Up! (11) – A Barricade in Hell & Tough Traveling – Minions!My Profile

  9. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    I didn’t know you’re a Jedi Tabitha! Because you definitely convinced me to read this! (Okay, maybe it was also the awesome review you wrote… :D) This sounds amazing – I haven’t read an adult fantasy book in awhile, and I think this will perfectly ease me back into the genre! The banter and action sounds perfect for me! I’m so glad I read your review!
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…Review: Ruin and RisingMy Profile

  10. Kel

    All right, now I’m taking a bit of a shot in the dark here, reading between the lines and all…but I’m getting the sense that you maybe, sort of, kind of liked this? 😉
    Kel recently posted…Top 10 Book Cover TrendsMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Hooray! Another one convinced – I’m totally going to harp on everyone about picking this up because it’s so worth it. And you know I wouldn’t really consider this one epic fantasy. Epic fantasy to me always has way more hmm….heavier feel? This was still light and no multiple POVs just the one. But I suppose you could consider it that. Oh yes and I would think its more like action adventure / sword and sorcery (lighter on the sorcery)
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Fan Art Up! (11) – A Barricade in Hell & Tough Traveling – Minions!My Profile

  11. Anya

    Omg now I love the author almost as much as the book! This is one of those that I’m going to have to resist really hard not to buy the sequel on The Book Depository as soon as it comes out in the UK >.> Omg, I just realized the author probably has an accent if he’s based in the UK *swoons*
    Anya recently posted…Fierce Reads Recap and giveawayMy Profile