In Traitor’s Blade, Sebastien de Castell has succeeded in deftly crafting a sword and sorcery delight that harkens back to a simpler time when grimdark did not rule the shelves and fantasy readers expected to be entertained with humor as well as action. Here, the characters’ playful banter and sword fighting flare is near equal to the legendary Three Musketeers and makes this a debut novel that should not be missed by any true fan of action and adventure tales. The simple fact is that Traitor’s Blade is a swashbuckling adventure that brings the fun back to epic fantasy!
The story itself follows Falcio, friend of the former king, and his companions. This group of Trattari, or "tatter-cloaks" were once members of the legendary "Greatcoats", who traveled the land enforcing the king's justice, and dealing out punishment to those who dared oppress the weak. It was a glorious life, which filled Falcio, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, with a sense of accomplishment as he tried to right the wrongs that he himself had experienced so well when the old king had caused the murder of his wife. But all dreams come to an end, and so to did the dream of the Greatcoats when the Dukes of the land united and executed the king.
Years have passed since that fateful day when Falcio was forced to watch the head of his beloved king mounted on a spear above his very own castle, and the Greatcoats are no more. They have been scattered to the four winds, cast as traitors by the dukes, and reviled by the population for their part in the king’s murder. Be that as it may, however, Falcio has remained steadfast in his love and loyalty to the ideals of the king, determined to fulfill a cryptic mission which was given him from the royal lips before death closed them forever, and no matter if it takes him a lifetime, Falcio will find the mysterious Chariotes of the king, even if he must personally thrust his rapier through the gut of every unscrupulous noble in the kingdom.
There are a lot of good things to say about this book. It is well written, paced to never perfection, filled with the correct amount of back story and politics to establish the setting, overflowing with humor and sword fighting, and blessed with a nice, surprising ending. Sure, there are a few times when our light, witty swashbuckling adventure turns dark and grim with a torture scene or an over-the-top villainess or even some bad flashbacks for Falcio or an all-knowing benefactor, but none of these "issues" ever overshadowed the brilliance of this book. From first page to last, Traitor’s Blade is exactly what it sets out to be: an exciting, witty adventure that any fantasy aficionado will adore.
In my reviews, I generally point out the problems I have with a book at this point. However, with Traitor’s Blade, I have chosen not to do that. I prefer to just recall the absolute fun I had while reading this novel and allow Mr. Castell the benefit of the doubt that the few problems in his writing will be resolved in the next book, because I dearly hope the second book in this lively series is soon to be published. In fact, I can hardly wait for another chance to laugh and frown and fight and love with the Greatcoats once again.
I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank both of them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.