Book Review By Matthew Gomez: The Greatcoats Quartet

Sebastien de Castell

Traitor’s Blade

Knight’s Shadow

Saint’s Blood

Tyrant’s Throne

 

What do you get when you mix swashbuckling action, witty repartee and a protagonist who Just. Won’t. Quit? You end up with the Greatcoats Quartet.

Falcio val Mond was a travelling magistrate for the Kingdom of Tristia, beholden only to the King, and in charge of the King’s magistrates, lawbringers who would adjudicate disputes and ensure that all of the various Viscounts, Margraves and Dukes of the land would follow the Law. In addition to handing out verdicts, the Greatcoats were also tasked with acting as a champion should the decision need to be decided by trail by combat.

Given how the King was stepping on the toes of the local rulers, he was wildly unpopular with the Dukes… so they staged a coup, resulting in the King’s death and the magistrates, the Greatcoats, disbanded, their reputation in ruins, and the country divided.

Before his passing, however, the King gave orders to his Greatcoats, each with their own final mission. Falcio’s? To find the King’s heir. Accompanying Falcio (and with missions of their own) are his life long companions, the consummate warrior Kest and the loudmouthed archer Brasti.

What follows over the course of the four books is a delightful mix of swashbuckling action, political intrigue, and in the end an affirmative Hell Yes if heroics alone are enough to save a country. While a deeply flawed character, Falcio and his companions face off against assassins, torturers, knights, nobility, Gods, and the Saints themselves in a cleverly constructed fantasy world that leaps off the page. In his writing, Castell captures the adventurous spirit of Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood, along with the dashing swordplay of The Princess Bride. These are characters who will go out of their way to do the right thing, no matter what the cost. Even his villains are well developed, as Caststell is skilled in showing the inherent contradictions and humanity in even the vilest villains, lending a depth to all of his characters frequently otherwise absent in fantasy fiction.

And oh the cost. Castell doesn’t pull any punches in putting his characters through every conceivable torment, physical and mental, to the point where I almost wonder how Falcio can still walk by the end of the series, let alone hold a blade.

So if you’re looking for a new swashbuckling adventure full of exciting twists and unexpected reveals, this is definitely a series to pick up!