“The fights that matter most aren’t won on skill.”
This idea, which is explicitly explored in one excellent chapter, serves as a theme throughout Knight’s Shadow, the second book in Sebastien de Castell’s swashbuckling Greatcoats series. While Falcio, Kest, and Basti, along with other characters, are definitely skilled, it is their willingness to do whatever it takes to win that gives them an edge. However, it also leads them to make hard sacrifices.
Character development is one of the areas where Knight’s Shadow particularly excels as a sequel to Traitor’s Blade. The main cast has expanded slightly from the first book and all of those characters grow in intriguing, sometimes surprising, directions. Each of them gets a moment of sacrifice, creating opportunities for development. Characters outside of the core group also experience interesting changes. Old friends commit acts of betrayal and enemies become reluctant allies. These shifting alliances keep the reader wondering about who to trust.
Speaking of alliances, Knight’s Shadow successfully builds upon the world of the Greatcoats series, especially in the area of politics. All of the dukes are motivated by self-interest, but they differ in what that interest is and what they’re willing to do to achieve it. This presents Falcio with a great challenge when it comes to recruiting allies and wrangling them in the same direction.
With the increased focus on character development and worldbuilding, reading Knight’s Shadow was a fantastic experience and I highly recommend reading it once you’ve read Traitor’s Blade. I give Knight’s Shadow five stars.
You can find Knight’s Shadow here on Amazon.
Here is my previous review of Traitor’s Blade.
After seeing people post about Traitor’s Blade, written by Sebastien de Castell, in a discussion group I am a member of, I decided to give it a read. I’m definitely glad that I did because it was an enthralling and exciting read.
In Traitor’s Blade, the protagonist Falcio and his friends Kest and Brasti are members of the Greatcoats, an organization dedicated to upholding the laws of the land. After the death of the king they served, the Greatcoats have been left disbanded and disgraced. Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have taken a contract to protect a noble, but when they are framed for his murder, they are forced to flee. In their effort to escape, they fall into the middle of a conspiracy by the corrupt dukes to place someone that they can control on the throne.
From the beginning, I was hooked. The aspect that caught me immediately is the quick and witty writing style. The sharp banter between Falcio, Kest, and Brasti is often hilarious and feels like you’re eavesdropping on chatter between close friends. Action scenes feature a dynamic flow that captures the spirit of any given fight. What really stood out to me during those scenes was the inner monologue of Falcio as he problem solved his way out of tough situations. Those moments provided both insight into how he thinks and an injection of humor that I enjoyed. There are also frequent flashbacks to Falcio’s past that tie into the what’s happening in the main story. These serve as good bits of character development and world building without coming across as blocks of information dumping.
The story itself flows nicely and stays engaging throughout the book. I especially enjoyed the middle section of the book where Falcio is protecting an orphaned girl during a weeklong event where the laws are not enforced, reminding me of the Purge movies a bit. In addition to some excellent fight scenes, this provides Falcio with some interesting character moments as he is reminded of why he became a Greatcoat in the first place: to protect and help people. This also effectively sets up his character direction heading into the rest of the series.
Between the sharp writing, fun characters, and engaging story, Traitor’s Blade has become one of my favorite recent discoveries and I can’t wait to read the rest of the Greatcoats series. I highly recommend checking it out and personally give it 5/5 stars.
You can find Traitor’s Blade here on Amazon.