G R Matthews
The Traitors Blade by Sebastien de Castell
The setting for this novel is interesting; the King has be deposed and a new ruling elite is taking charge except that royalty, the Dukes and Duchesses, who have taken charge. It could be the Three Musketeers, certainly there are three heroes and our main protagonist use a rapier, it could be the Duchies of Italy. Truth be told it is probably both of those and more. The author has created a world that slowly gives up its secrets throughout the story. However, there are many stories and secrets to be told in this world and whilst this first book introduces the landscapes, its cities, its politics and our heroes it is not a book that answers questions. Instead it poses many new ones in each chapter, some resolved by the end and some not – hence it is the first in a series.
So, what do we have? Well, our heroes, the Greatcoats, are the source of justice in the realm. They ride the realm hearing cases and grievances, dispensing justice where it is due. Trained to the law, the sword and bow, they keep the peace of the Kings road. However, when we meet them for the first time the King is dead and the Greatcoats, the Trattori, are despised by all. The three we follow through the story are on a quest, given by the King as his dying wish, to find the secrets he has left in his realm that will defeat the Dukes and bring back justice to realm.
The name ‘Greatcoats’ is derived from the great coats they wear as a badge of their station. Leather, and sewn with armour, they are both the greatest honour and the greatest symbol of their shame but they would never give them up. Forced to take a job guarding a noble caravan as it proceeds down the dangerous roads they stumble from desperate adventure into dire straits, always their duty and honour leading the way.
The Traitors Blade is not an easy book to put down and the story carries the reader along without a pause. There is little to jar the reader from the world and the flashbacks reveal key facts and facets of the story at just the right time. Nothing in the story is brand new or a road we haven’t travelled in other fantasy novels. However, it is a story told with great confidence and aplomb. It is hard not recommend this book to any reader who enjoys fantasy so I am going to recommend it to everyone. Read it and enjoy.