“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.