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Greatcoat's Lament (The Greatcoats (2)) Hardcover – June 2, 2015
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"The Fifth Doll" by Charlie N. Holmberg
The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village. | Learn more
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"Sebastien De Castell manages to wring every heart wrenching moment and ounce of anticipation from every scene, his fight scenes contain dark humor, explosive action and a great awareness of the art of sword fighting, all of which has you hanging on the edge of every page. (There are also some truly laugh out loud moments in this book.) . . . An exceptional book and series . . . this book is clearly going to be a stand out title."―Parmenion Books
Praise for Knight's Shadow:
"The shocking ending left my completely stunned . . . Knight's Shadow is the best book I have read this year so far and I'm not sure anything coming out this year can hope to top it!"―The Arched Doorway
"How wonderful it is to be back into this world . . . wildly entertaining . . . Greatcoats is now up there on my list of favorite fantasy series, and I never miss a chance to recommend it to my fellow readers and friends."―Bibliosanctum
"[Knight's Shadow] will blow you away . . . Sebastien de Castell has really, really outdone himself. . . I probably will have to wait another year for the third book in the series but it is definitely worth the wait. The Greatcoats series should be on every reading list."― The Book Plank
"Traitor's Blade was one of the most enjoyable fantasy debuts of the last year . . . both stem from a time when fantasy was just plain fun and promised quests and excitement, when you opened a book expecting to be entertained . . . It's easy to love de Castell's work . . . readable fantasy at its finest."―Upcoming4me
"This is fast, fantastic fun--and it has an excellent character piece wrapped inside it . . . a great read, and very much a worthy sequel."― Sci-fi and Fantasy Reviews
"Ends on a satisfying conclusion that nevertheless leaves room for the story to continue in Saint's Blood."―Starburst Magazine
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.85 pounds
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1623653983
- ISBN-13 : 978-1623653989
- Product Dimensions : 6.5 x 2 x 9.5 inches
- Publisher : Jo Fletcher Books (June 2, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,396,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I'll go ahead and mention the flaws right now. One relates to the main POV character's wife's fate from book 1. He (Falcio) is forced to relive it during an extended torture sequence. It was a trope-ish reason for Falcio to go nuts in book 1, and it doesn't really change anything here. I am a little bit tired of the extended torture sequences in this series, to be honest.
The other relates to the character Ethalia. She is the stereotypical prostitute with a heart of gold (and apparently some magical powers). She makes her wishes clear in book one and Falcio keeps ignoring them and she keeps coming back to help him anyway. (And although he professes to love her, or tells herself that, the whole thing seems to be a stretch after their brief encounter in the first book.)
Moving on. There were some good things about this book, too, and they mostly overrode the bad things for me. The pace was pretty frantic, which is probably mostly what kept me reading. Falcio was dosed with a slow-acting poison in the first book and has some problems as a result in this book -- each morning when he wakes up, he spends a bit of time paralyzed. The paralysis time gets longer and longer and when he is awake, he gets shakier and shakier. He relies on drugs to remain awake, fearing to fall asleep, and he spends most of the book preparing for death. Although of course there have been marathon sessions of no sleep in other fantasy novels, I think the take on it here is original and gives Falcio some interesting limitations.
Another thing that is done well is the shifting of alliances. There are quite a few revelations in this book -- about characters' parentage, about who is arming some villagers, about the secretive order of assassins known as the Dashini, etc. Falcio and his friends are actually forced to work with some of the Dukes against an enemy whose nature they don't figure out until close to the end -- even after the Dukes were terrible to Falcio, his friends, and the people of the land leading up to the point of collaboration. But events unfold in a way that, to me, makes sense.
There are not as many flashbacks in this novel as in the last one. I prefer it this way. (As an aside, the lack of flashbacks and the dropping of banter among the main trio of Falcio, Kest, and Brasti makes this book remind me much less of the Lies of Locke Lamora than the previous book did.) You do learn some about the past, including why Kest decided to take up the sword. You learn a few of the Greatcoats' secret missions assigned by the King before he died. And there are hints of additional mysteries, such as the setting up of some historical relationship between the bards (Bardatti), Greatcloaks (Trattari), and Dashini assassins. I get the sense that this will be explored further in future volumes, and to me, the set-up is interesting. I hope the payoff will be, as well.
There are some loose ends here, but overall the story was fairly well-contained. It was not, in my opinion, a weak second book (too many series have second books that are total filler, but I don't think that's the case here). I think of the loose ends more as set-up for future books in the series.
Other than the lack of flashbacks (there are a few) and the lack of attempts at banter, the writing is mostly the same as book one. I didn't find anything particularly irritating about it. It just did its job -- telling the story. The world building is also basically the same as book one, though I get the sense that at least some concepts will be further explored in book three (and I am looking forward to it).
As for character development, I don't know that Falcio shows a lot. He has always been able to pull through, even in some pretty terrible situations. Kest loses some bravado and makes a serious personal sacrifice and we also learn something about his past, so I'd say there's development and transformation there. Brasti strikes out on his own for awhile and, although he doesn't change much, I like that we learn more about him and that he takes a more active role in directing things. Dariana is a new character and she makes some interesting choices in the book, but we learn why near the end. At first, she is not likable in many ways, but with her upbringing, it makes sense. We also learn the Tailor is much more manipulative than previously thought. So although Falcio is the main focus and doesn't stray too far from what he was in the first book, he is sympathetic, and we do see character development with some of the side characters. I applaud this; secondary characters tend to get ignored in many books so it is nice to see a focus on them here.
Anyway, as I mentioned, there were a few things I didn't care for, but this book was exciting enough to me to keep reading (finished it in a few days) and immediately start the next one, so overall, I am giving a fairly high rating.
You will learn the correct pronunciation of "Falcio," and that stirring speeches may have repercussions both amusing and grievous;
You will receive clues concerning the heart of a Greatcoat (though you may not recognize them on first reading);
You will discover the price of Sainthood, the cost of victory, and just how much a King will ask of one who serves him;
You will see a greatcoat with one sleeve, a woman with two loyalties, and a man with nine deaths;
You will cheer a game of Ducklings, and flights from the hedgerows;
You will despise a man who does not exist, pity a man of compassion, and weep for a man of valor and the boy within him;
You will find grains of sand in the desert;
You will witness the Greatcoat's Lament;
And you will realize that the world needs more bastards.
Finally, having done all that and so much more, you will find SAINT'S BLOOD, the third book of the Greatcoats, and you will devour it.
I still love the three main characters and Kest is still my favorite. Also Ugh. Who has perhaps the most tragic story of all. Valiana also snatches up a special place in your heart and I love that so much thought was put into her character. I do think Falcio has a little bit of special snowflake syndrome, but I'm willing to overlook it because he's earned it.
Traitor's Blade is about Falcio finally accomplishing the mission the king gave him five years prior. Knight's Shadow is about the Greatcoats navigating the political landscape that comes with accomplishing such a mission. There are plenty of battles and sticky situations for our characters to get themselves out of, but there are also a lot of plot twists and turns and general intrigue. I did see at least one big twist coming but the other one was a definite surprise. I don't want to say it came out of left field, but the motivations for it weren't incredibly clear.
If you enjoyed the first book at all you owe it to yourself to follow through with the sequel. Again, it is a complete story in itself and won't leave you with any massive cliffhangers, but I already can't wait to get into the next one.
Top reviews from other countries
The sheer amount of turning heel and vice versa in the book, used as a kind of Deus Ex, is staggering.
The characters are thinly drawn and no-body, I mean no-body, acts in any believable way.
Awful. Terry Goodkind levels of awful.
The so-called evil characters in the book have to have the evil dialled up to level 1 million to the extent that it’s ridiculous. There’s no attempt to build a character that may seem real or has any justification for their actions.
One character even turns up to a torture session held on our protagonist even though the torturers are her erstwhile opponents. What follows is a weird combination of ridiculous, sexually deviant and just plain downright nasty...I honestly couldn’t believe a minute of what was happening, it was so unutterably stupid.
I am absolutely loving this series, and if it wasn’t part of a read-along, I’d probably start the next one immediately. Sebastien de Castell is an amazing writer, has created some memorable characters, top notch action sequences, and overall a fantastic series so far. I’m already regretting that there’s just two books left of Falcio, Kest, and Brasti’s exploits for me to read. Hard to pick a favourite there, honestly. While the books are entirely written from Falcio’s perspective, the other two do have their big moments.
This series just keeps getting better.
I was initially a bit concerned and afraid that this book could turn out into filler, as second volumes of trilogies sometime are. This is simply not the case. There is a lot happening in this instalment. While it is also just about possible to read it on a standalone basis without having read “traitor’s blade” before, it is nevertheless preferable to read them sequentially. Also, and yet again, the story is told in what is a gripping and very entertaining way.
The story is still largely told in the first person and – mostly – this worked well for me as it had in the first book with the story told by Falcio Val Mond, the former First Cantor (and therefore Chief) of the Greatcoats, who was also the friend, the confidant and the right-hand man of the King, and shared his dream and his ideals of justice. Some components of the story are however a bit difficult to believe. I had trouble accepting that a secret society of assassins would draw such extreme consequences simply because two of its members had “failed to deliver”, and supposedly been the very first to do so in eons. Something else that did not quite ring true and was unconvincing was to have the hero almost tortured to death but seeming to have fully recovered shortly afterwards. This graphically described session was somewhat unnecessary to the extent that it does not add anything substantial to the story.
Again, I found that the book’s strongest feature was the characterisation of the main characters. As in the first volume, Falcio comes across as rather sympathetic and idealistic but also, at times, almost naïve. A nice surprise was that the characters of his two friends and companions, Brasti the colossal master archer and Kest, the supreme swordsman, both of which are devoted to Falcio, regardless of what they may pretend. Another interesting feature was the manifestation of the Saint of Swords, but also of Saint Birgit. In both cases, their holiness appears to be a curse perhap0s as much as a blessing. Another character, supposedly friendly to Falcio and his two lieutenants, turns out to have much more mixed incentives and very ambiguous behaviours. Finally, the cast of “nasties” is largely the same as in the first volume and includes at least two of the Dukes (or, to be more precise, one Duke and a recently crowned and very sadistic Duchess).
Contrary to the previous volume, however, you get a bit less fighting. The story concentrates a bit more on our heroes trying to prevent multiple murders and the descent of their world into utter chaos. You also get a number of flashbacks with Falcio remembering some of his past conversations with the murdered King and some of the - cryptic at the time - statements that he made at the time. Also, I still found this book to be something of a cross between The Three Musketeers of Alexandre Dumas and of “Once upon a time in the West” from Sergio Leone. It is quite easy to imagine the Great Coats with their great leather coats reinforced with armour and containing multiple pockets filled with all sorts of weapons. I just needed to close my eyes to see them fighting rapiers, broadsword or bow in hand against late medieval knights covered in plate armour from head to toe.
As you will see for yourself by the time you get to the end of this 600 plus page book, there is a sort off “happy ending” with a couple of twists that I found not entirely surprising but which I had nevertheless not necessarily guessed. Since there will be a third volume which I am eager to read, you can guess that Falcio and his colleagues and friends still have their work cut out and that the last instalment will probably contain yet more unpleasant surprises. Four stars, just like the first one.
This one isn't a jumping on point, so new readers should start with Traitor's Blade: The Greatcoats Book 1 .
Those who have read that, read on.
This volume runs for six hundred pages. It has a prologue, forty eight chapters. An epilogue. Plus a map of the setting at the front.
It does feature some strong language and graphic violence.
Picking up from the end of book one, Falcio and his friends have to protect Aline and put her on the throne. Not easy. With all those who would want her dead. The Dukes and the Tailor are all scheming. And Falcio is slowly being killed by poison.
The writing style is as before. Seen entirely through Falcio's eyes. With very occasional flashbacks to meeting he had with the King.
Although it's very smooth and readable from the off, it takes about ninety pages till it really starts to grab.
But it really does from then on. Because the plotting is absolutely masterful. Twists and turns galore await. You eventually realise just how well worked out everything has been, and how the writer unfolds it all at just the right moment and pace to keep the narrative unfolding and keep you hooked.
But it's not just about plot, it's also about character. As many involved in the story go through some excellent character development and character arcs.
Falcio remains a superb creation and a highly sympathetic lead, as he remains so determined to do the right thing. Whatever trials and tribulations he has to go through. And there are quite a few of those.
There's a lot more of this story to come, and I look forward to it. A really great read in an excellent series.