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Saint's Blood (The Greatcoats) Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
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"If you enjoy fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat adventure and compelling, believable characters battling overwhelming odds yet never giving in, you can't beat the Greatcoats series. To read them is to love them."―The Oklahoman
"This is a great series, that gets better with each book, while Traitor's Blade was good, an impressive debut and decent start to the series, Knight's Shadow improved on it in every way and with Saint's Blood de Castell has managed yet again to top his previous book by creating what will surely be one of the best fantasy books of the year. You're pulled in from the first page through to the last in this fast paced, character driven epic where come the final page you are left wanting more!"―Tattooed Book Geek
"I can't say enough good things about Saint's Blood. The camaraderie between Falcio, Kest, and Brasti was as strong as ever. They are like three brothers who talk, joke, bluff, and fight their way through the worst of scenarios. Saint's Blood was really an enjoyable sequel full of hope and action."
Praise for Knight's Shadow
"Knight's Shadow truly is a must-read book . . . the kind of historical fantasy that makes everything else pale in comparison."―Beauty in Ruins
"The fantastic dialogue, the humor, the twists and the exhilarating action all make this a worthy sequel to Traitor's Blade. It has certainly proven that de Castell is not a one hit wonder"―Draumr Kopa Blog
About the Author
Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realised how much he hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. He lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife.
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Sebastien de Castell's Greatcoats series centers around three men -- Falcio, Kest and Brasti -- who were once the king's elite judicial swordsmen, bringing law and justice to a fragile kingdom. But their king is long dead and the Greatcoats have long since been scattered to the wind, each assigned a personal mission from the king.
In the previous two books, Falcio and his friends have found the king's daughter, Aline, and taken steps toward placing her on the throne and returning justice to their kingdom. In addition to Aline, they have found several other young women who, while they each bring different personalities and skills to the table, match Falcio, Kest and Brasti in their determination and belief in a brighter future for their kingdom. By this point in the series, the women are often the drivers of the plot, standing side by side with the "Three Musketeers"-esque heroes we have followed throughout the series.
All three books are anchored by Falcio's heart-on-his-sleeve point of view, providing a voice that reminds me in some ways of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden. In one moment, he can be trading barbs with Kest and Brasti, and in the same page de Castell turns the screws and suddenly creates an unexpectedly emotional moment. Somehow, de Castell has captured the humor of Scott Lynch and the poignancy of Robin Hobb. It's an awe-inspiring combination, and makes for an emotional roller coaster.
de Castell's dialogue crackles throughout, from the familiar banter of Falcio, Kest and Brasti to the face-offs between the trio and their seemingly overpowering enemies. Each character has their own voice, from Kest's unerring pragmatism and calculation to Brasti's irreverance and refusal to take anything seriously.
All three books have a touch of noir in them, especially SAINT'S BLOOD, as Falcio seeks to figure out who has begun killing saints and why they are doing it. Like the best noir heroes, Falcio spends almost the entire book injured in one form or another, never gaining enough time to fully recover before moving on to the next emergency, then next battle, the next crisis that could cost him everything he loves. The pace never slows down, as Falcio and his friends race from one crisis to the next, and every time Falcio seems like he's going to get a moment to catch his breath, the other shoe drops.
These seemingly never-ending challenges have taken their toll on Falcio over the course of the series, making him an even more interesting character. In SAINT'S BLOOD, he still carries guilt after he was forced to cut off Kest's hand in KNIGHT'S SHADOW, but even that guilt is overshadowed by the emotional aftereffects of the torture he suffered in that same book. de Castell writes that fear in an incredibly visceral manner, making you feel Falcio's terror as he relives the worst moments of his life.
While we never get their points of view, the other characters also grow and develop. We see Kest struggle to adapt to the loss of his hand, watch Aline and Valiana grow up in surprising ways, and even see Brasti change as he relies more and more upon humor to mask his genuine fear and concern for his friends.
The doubt and pain and fear of all these characters make Falcio's determination all the more inspiring, and his victories -- however short-lived they may be -- all the more enjoyable.
This book has a fair amount of world building (unusual for a third novel in a series), but the way it's done works for me because it's pretty well interwoven in the main plot. Someone is killing the Saints, who are living expressions of particular characteristics of humankind (e.g., mercy, romantic love, swordsmanship, etc.). Falcio, our POV character, and his friends Kest and Brasti are charged with figuring out who is doing it and with stopping it. Anyway, without being beaten over the head with needless explanation, we learn a lot more about the religion of Tristia, the country where Falcio and company live. I like the way it's done. When there are bits of explanation, they usually work because Falcio, Kest, and Brasti aren't very religious and there are things that maybe they should've known but didn't, as a result. It's an interesting take on religion that I won't spoil for you, but I like it precisely because it's a little off the beaten path (at least for fantasy novels).
We have our usual cast of characters: the aforementioned trio, Aline (the king's heir), Valiana (who is removed from the action as she is acting as something of a regent for Aline), several of the other Greatcoats, several bards (aka Bardatti, since they are an old order with more powers than you might expect from a traveling musician), the Dukes, Ethalia, and Dariana. (Irritatingly, Dariana's name in this book seems to have added an extra "R" right in the middle. In book 4, it goes back to the original spelling. I don't know what's up with that. Poor editing, I suppose. I didn't really notice a ton of other errors.)
There are some new characters as well. To talk about the main antagonist would be to give away too much of the plot. You meet a few priests and Inquisitors (church knights) and one of the church knights (Quentis Maren) is fairly well developed for a secondary character. I like how he is handled -- alliances are shaky with him because of deep suspicion between the Greatcoats and the Inquisitors, but it's not the traditional fantasy rivalry, and the book is stronger for it. Duke Jillard is also given a bit more depth here. It is hard to forget what he did in the first book (burning down Aline's family home and killing her relatives) but he is very nearly sympathetic by the end.
One more thing I like: I always thought the relationship between Falcio and Ethalia moved too fast to be realistic, and the pace and character of it changes in this book (for the better). I am much happier with where it is at the end of this book than at pretty much any other part of the series.
One thing I don't care for as much was how the storyline here seemed to divert from what had been the main plot of books 1 and 2. I know a key figure to the enemy's plot was defeated in book 2, but it wasn't clear to me then that her cause was completely over and done with. Anyway, I would like some resolution there (and maybe it will come in a future book?).
Overall, though, this book was a quick read (finished it in a few days) and the reading experience was enjoyable. The action was described well and there was a lot of it -- enough that it kind of kept me from thinking too much about flaws in the book. This series is definitely growing on me. (And I feel like it is getting stronger with each successive book, which is something I can't say for a lot of series.)
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My name is Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the King's Greatcoats.Read more