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…
Be in no doubt, I adored Traitor’s Blade. Heroic sword-fighting epics are absolutely my kind of book. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Dumas wrote fantasy, then this is a book for you too. It’s exciting and gripping, has awesome fight scenes and entertaining repartee, and has a central quest urging our heroes ever onward.
Falcio val Mond has grown up dreaming of being a Greatcoat, an almost mythical group dedicated to justice and honour. He gets his wish in terrible and tragic circumstances, only to have it torn away again. He holds true to his vows however, and follows his King’s final instructions to seek out the King’s Charoites. Falcio doesn’t know what they are or where to find them, but these are merely details. His two Greatcoat brothers Kest and Brasti ably assist him. Kest is the best swordsman alive and Brasti is a bowman who (almost) never misses. Despite a fair deal of grumbling and predictions of imminent death the trio are devoted to each other.
I loved the camaraderie between the three and their different personalities. Brasti moans and groans about their current lack of status and income, but I never doubted his loyalty for a moment. Kest is supremely confident of his abilities, but quietly so, he has no need to boast. Falcio is a mixture of grief and gravity; sincerity, guilt and sadness in equal measure.
The Tailor is perhaps the most intriguing character, and her greatcoats are things of great wonder, made for protection and concealment. It’s no surprise that the only way to separate a Greatcoat and his coat is to kill him. As they’re highly trained in multiple forms of combat that’s no easy matter. Although it does seem that virtually everyone Falcio and co. encounter wants to try.
The story moves back and forth filling in Falcio’s history and consequently that of the Greatcoats recent rise and fall. Falcio is so damaged by his past it just breaks my heart. I’m probably a teensy bit in love with him, although he does his best to repel everyone. His description of the stink of bodies during and after battle might just put you off, although it is also pretty amusing. There is plenty of humour in the book, which leavens the darker aspects of the story.
I did not want this story to end, and fortunately there will be more Greatcoats in the future. The whole thing had me enthralled, and as I started to write my review I found myself reading huge chunks of it over again. Yep, this is my kind of book.
Traitor’s Blade is published by Jo Fletcher Books in Hardback on 6 March. It’s available now as an eBook. I won my advance eBook in a competition.