Saint's Blood (The Greatcoats (3)) Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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"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
- Publisher : Jo Fletcher Books (June 7, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 592 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1681444895
- ISBN-13 : 978-1681444895
- Item Weight : 1.7 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.75 x 9.38 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #460,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
Up to now this series had limited magic in the background and felt quite grounded as most grimdark-leaning series often do. That's why I thought it was kind of a bizarre choice to bring a convoluted mess of religion ,saints, and gods to the forefront and make them the core of the story. Things got really kind of metaphysical and very weird pretty quickly and I wasn't always clear on what exactly was happening or why. It was no longer a swashbuckling adventure with a heroic inspiring protagonist. I'm not sure what it was. There were still some good moments for sure, but not really enough to bring it up to the level of enjoyment I would call good. It was decent at best and frustrating at worst.
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.)
Top reviews from other countries
Once more Falcio, Brasti and Kest are caught up in major events as they support Aline against (first) the dukes and then the church. They are so busy reacting to individual events that they have trouble seeing the big picture. Events in the previous book have left both Falcio and Kest damaged in different ways. Brasti continues to play the fool, though in the end he's the one who comes up with insights that contribute a solution. When they discover who's really behind the mayhem they discover that they have an even bigger problem.
I've galloped through the first three books in this quartet and without hesitation moved straight on to the fourth, Tyrant's Throne. They are so fast paced that you want to gallop through then while at the same time not wanting to finish them.
The first chapter, containing advice for those about to fight their first duel, will make you smile, chuckle, perhaps even laugh aloud. Were you new to the Greatcoats, you might expect the story to continue in this light, amusing vein, but you have read TRAITOR'S BLADE and KNIGHT'S SHADOW, and you know better. You know this won't last. You know there are bad things coming. And you can't wait to read more.
You discover that someone or something is killing the Saints. You know that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti will need to find out who, what, and why and put a stop to it. You know you will be afraid for them and for the people around them. You know they will exhibit valor (always) and intelligence (most of the time). You know they will fight for what is right against impossible odds, and support each other no matter the circumstances (though not without occasional griping and some well-timed jibes). You know one or all of them will be hurt, physically, psychologically, and/or emotionally. You know they might be killed and you might have your heart broken. And even when all this happens, you can't wait to read more.
As you read, so much is revealed. Who, what, and why, of course. Unexpected layers in the characters you love, the characters you loathe, and those you're not yet decided about. How gods are made, and the strength of saints. That one who would die for love can be saved by one who will die for life. The wisdom of Brasti Goodbow. And that everyone can be more than one thing.
You will think you're finished then. But you read the acknowledgements, because you want to know everyone who helped to bring the Greatcoats to you. When you do, you are rewarded by having your heart broken all over again. And you still want to read more.
Fortunately, TYRANT'S THRONE, the fourth book of the Greatcoats, was published in April of 2017.
As has been proven before Falcio can take a licking and keep on ticking and this book was no exception as the action was fast, furious and plentiful, the story moving along at almost breakneck speed. With laugh out loud humour (see Brasti and the world's driest straight man Kest) heart stopping action and moments of true valour and heartbreak this an exceptional addition to exceptional series. In fact if you like fantasy I would go so far as to say you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't read it.
In this episode, Falcio, the “First Cantor” and former leader of the Greatcoats, together with his two faithful companions, the master bowman Brasti and the master swordsmen Kest, are confronted with a new threat to the whole Kingdom. The Kingdom’s Saints are attacked, tortured rather horribly and slaughtered one after the other with their blood used (hence the book’s title) to feed fanatics which become almost impossible to stop when they set out to kill the Heiress to the throne and the Realm’s Protector.
I will not, of course, refrain from spoiling the story by telling the whole plot but will instead just make a number of comments, starting with a couple of warnings. The first is that it is preferable to read the books in sequence, instead of starting with this one. The second, and perhaps the most important, is that while this 550 plus pages book is easy to read, exciting and entertaining, I would advise you to make sure you have plenty of free time once you get started, because it is rather difficult to put down once you get immersed in the adventure story.
Those who have already read the previous volumes know what to expect: a kingdom-wide plot that will bring more suffering and chaos and that our heroes, with some help from the few other surviving Greatcoats will struggle and fight against. This time, the fight is not against the nobility but against a rather vicious attempt to introduce a theocratic regime. As usual, the main characters gallop from one fight, ambush, duel and murder attempt to another until the main climax and battle that takes place on the site of the (former’s) King’s castle.
All this is delivered with a somewhat tongue in cheek super-epic “Three Musqueteers” style, with the Inquisitors reminding me of the Cardinal de Richelieu’s guards and with lots of Greatcoat bantering, threatening and blustering to boot. Some of the struggles, in particular one where an unarmed Falcio is attacked by two fanatics disguised as palace guards, are particularly griping.
Another interesting feature is that we learn yet a bit more about the formation and history of the Kingdom and Duchies of Tristia and the origins of its population and of its religion. In pure epic style, the characters are mostly black or while, “goodies” or terrible “nasties” although in this volume a number of them are more complex, such as one of the most dangerous among the Dukes.
A great read worth four strong stars and which, I hope, will carry you away and make you part of the author’s fantasy world for a number of hours.