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Elizabeth is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, and author. Her first book “Beyond Black and White” is available now. She is an old soul who's young at heart, a human jukebox, and a corgi lady in training. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @ElizabethThe.

Book Review: Sebastien de Castell’s “Traitor’s Blade”

Traitor's Blade

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. 

– A summary of Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell’s first novel, Traitor’s Blade follows the adventures of Falcio val Mond and his companions Kest and Brasti in their determined fight to uphold the Greatcoat values of fairness and justice across the kingdom of Tristia – ideals which have been tossed aside by the lawless, corrupted, and abusive regime of Dukes, who have taken over the land. Formerly the protectors of the King Paelis, the once mighty fighting guard of Greatcoats were branded as “traitors” who stood by as the ruler was overthrown and murdered. The traveling defenders, now disbanded and despised by the people, are considered lower class than peasantry. Despite the odds and forces stacked against them, the three fallen heroes try to fulfill the King’s last mission and save this territory on the verge of collapse, risking death at every turn. Events lead them to embark on a quest that will change their fates forever.

Normally, I tend not to go for the fantasy genre (with the Harry Potter series being the sole exception), but the way this novel was written made the story so intriguing and accessible to follow. In his fictional debut, de Sebastien constructs a world of medieval fantasy and daring adventure, balanced with striking moments of humour to keep things light (the opposite of serious, which is the route most fantasy novels take). The story is told from the first-person viewpoint of the protagonist, Falcio, the first Cantor of the the Greatcoats. The story alternates between the central plot and flashbacks to the memories that made Falcio the damaged and driven man he is. Crucial to this story are the battle scenes, and the fight sequences (which appear at every turn) are extremely detailed with swift action and razor-sharp dialogue. As a trained choreographer of fight scenes, de Castell knows how to find and describe the coordination of clashing swords, flying arrows, and powerful punches in a fresh and exciting way. His impeccable pacing will have you forgetting how much time has passed while you immerse yourself in the universe of Trailor’s Blade.

de Sebastien introduces a cast of characters that are complex and compelling. As the leader of the law-enforcing pack of protectors.  Falcio is endearing with his steadfast loyalty, strong sense of a moral compass, and unpredictable nature. What I enjoyed most about Falcio is his clever wit – despite his skill with a sword, he would just as soon defeat his enemies with his words. Though he is a strong fighter and justice-seeker, Falcio relies on his two loyal comrades, Kest (first swordsmen) and Brasti (first archer) for support (in manpower and intellect) throughout their journey. There is an humorous and jovial camaraderie between this brotherhood that is reminiscent of The Three Muskateers, making it easy for readers to believe that these men have and will go through thick-and-thin with each other, and to hell and back for each other as well. Best of all, the women of Traitor’s Blade are portrayed in a variety of roles, from villains to saviours, and are all interesting, dynamic, and fully developed; the females are crucial to the plot points in the narrative.

What makes the book such a page-turner is how the reader is kept in a constant state of not knowing what would happen next. The plot is full of twists and turns and unexpected events that made things compelling as the revelations, discoveries, and controversies accumulated. Far from being a confusing mess, the intricate, fast-paced plot was highly coherent and well-woven, and the vague hints dispersed throughout gives readers an incentive to continue on with the saga with the upcoming Greatcoat’s Lament, the second in line in this epic quartet series.

de Castell has successfully conceived and crafted a world that draws from familiar fantasy/adventure elements, but also integrates his own personal touch by adding generous doses of humanity, humour, and fun. If you want a fresh new fantasy novel with themes of sword-fighting, murder, mystery, mayhem, intrigue, betrayal, redemption, honour, and morality, the bold, dashing, and entertaining Traitor’s Blade is a quest you should embark on!

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell is available now from Penguin Canada and will be released in the US in July 2014. (An excerpt of the first chapter is HERE).

Follow Sebastien De Castell on Twitter (@decastell) and visit his official website.

Follow Penguin Canada on Twitter (@PenguinCanada) for more updates on the Traitor’s Blade Blog Tour.

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    […] Elizabeth Rosalyn The The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow […]

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